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Spectacular Photographs of America’s National Parks That Will Leave You Awestruck

Updated: Jan. 06, 2023

Our sister publication ‘Country’ magazine received more than 2,000 entries in their “Our National Parks” photo contest. Here are the stunning winners and honorable mentions.

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Grand prize: Good as gold

“Fall is a great time to visit Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park. Moody weather often leads to spectacular photographs like this one. I call this shot ‘Good as Gold.’” —Erica Harvey, Rapid City, South Dakota. Although, you may want to consider visiting in the spring too. Check out these stunning photos of national parks in full bloom.

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First place: A spectacular sky

“I love photography, nature, and astrophotography. I took this photo at Cedar Pass in Badlands National Park just before sunrise.” —David Schaefbauer, Rapid City, South Dakota. 

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Second place: A river runs through it

“This early morning view of the Grand Canyon was taken from Lipan Point. You can see the Colorado River snake through the canyon.” —Nathaniel Gonzales, Baltimore, Maryland. 

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Third place: A touching moment

“While driving through Badlands, we turned a curve and there was a bighorn ewe with her lambs. This was a once-in-a-lifetime photo, and we wanted to share it with others.” —Ron Linton, Rapid City, South Dakota. Here are more adorable pictures of baby animals you’ll instantly love as much as this one.

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Honorable mention: In the presence of history

“On a foggy morning drive near Gettysburg National Military Park, I couldn’t help but think of the soldiers who fought here.” —Susan Grove, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

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Honorable mention: Green as far as the eye can see

“The New River Gorge National River is a beautiful place. I captured this scene from Diamond Point.” —James Jarrett, Gauley Bridge, West Virginia. Check out these 14 vintage-style national park posters.

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Honorable mention: Mirror lake

“A friend and I were on the hunt for a moose to photograph in Grand Teton National Park. After fruitless searching, this moose appeared.” —Katherine Plessner, Verona, North Dakota. Not a lake person? Check out the most gorgeous beaches with the clearest water across the globe.

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Honorable mention: A lone caribou

“Bill Sheldon, my late uncle, snapped this photo of the caribou in Denali National Park. He loved photography, traveling, and nature.” —Nicole Sheldon, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. If you think this caribou is breathtaking, take a look at these beautiful photos of the most colorful animals in the world.

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Honorable mention: The highest peak

“My husband didn’t want to walk to the highest point in Yosemite. So I handed him the camera and he took this shot. I’m in the blue shirt.” —Lucy Sullivan, Ocala, Florida. 

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Honorable mention: A breathtaking herd

“Fog hanging over the Tetons almost disappointed my visiting family. Then this herd of elk showed up. It was a splendid moment.” —Cassandra Sturos, Hyattville, Wyoming

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Honorable mention: Sand surfer

“What I love most about Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado is that you can actually play on the sand.” —Sarah Tidwell, Eustis, Florida

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Honorable mention: A painted landscape

“On vacation in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, we drove up to Clingmans Dome, the highest point in the park, and watched the most amazing sunset.” —Philip Steury, Auburn, Indiana. As picturesque as this sunset is, you can also catch these spectacular sunsets in every state.