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Share the Experience 2014

Share the Experience 2014

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More than 17,600 accepted entries viewed by 133,174 unique visitors for a total of 1.7 million photo views. That is one way to summarize the 2013 Share the Experience Photo Contest. However, the numbers do not do it justice, the real story is in the photos themselves. Covering every federal land from Acadia to Zion, every scenario from family vacations to technical expeditions, the photos are the stars of this contest.

This makes for a difficult task sorting through all of those moments, memories and scenes to come up with the few that the judges feel best represent the spirit of the contest and the federal lands. The good news is we get to do it all over again and see the amazing federal lands that this country has to offer in the 2014 contest which is now open for entries.

Submit your photos and share your experiences for a chance to win cash and prizes!


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, photo by Courtney Kotewa

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore


Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin, photo by Michael DeWitt

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Arizona and Utah, photo by Darrell Staggs

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area


Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, photo by Eric Magayne

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve


Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado, photo by Sarah Malerich

Mesa Verde National Park


Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Florida and Georgia, photo by Graham McGeorge

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge


Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska, photo by Michael McRuiz

Kenai Fjords National Park


Death Valley National Park, California, photo by Linnea Charnholm

Death Valley National Park


Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, photo by Peter Blanchard

Grand Canyon National Park


Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, photo by Manish Mamtani

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

2013 Winners' Photo Stories

Grand Prize: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan, by Courtney Kotewa

This year’s grand prize winner comes to us from a family outing and according to Courtney; it almost didn’t happen as she was not sure she would take her phone with her on the kayak trip for fear of dropping it in the choppy lake. Lucky for Courtney, she decided to risk it and bring the phone to document the trip. Although she grew up in Michigan, this was Courtney’s first trip to Pictured Rocks and she described it as being on her mom’s “bucket list.” Both Courtney and her mom are always up for adventure in the outdoors as Courtney describes it best by “Nature grounds you where you can get your perspective on life back. That’s what it does for me.” We could not agree more! Congratulations Courtney!

Second Prize: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin, by Michael DeWitt

This year was truly the year for the Midwest Lakeshores! Whereas Courtney Kotewa captured the summertime fun, Michael DeWitt enlightened us to the winter beauty that is out there as well. “In late December, a friend and I launched a canoe from the pack ice at Meyer’s Beach, gateway to the mainland sea caves in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. We broke skim ice and dodged ice bergs out to the caves, and we were well rewarded for our efforts.” We were all rewarded with a beautiful shot and a glimpse into a park that not many venture into in the winter.

Third Prize: Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Utah, by Darrell Staggs

When Darrell Staggs’ photo was submitted, it took the Share the Experience team a moment or two to figure out exactly what we where looking at. Which side was up? Which size was down? What exactly where we looking at? Darrell sorted it all out, “This canyon housed a pool of water that was sheltered from any wind, making it a perfect mirror for the canyon walls lit by the late afternoon sun.” Perfect mirror indeed and something that is completely unique to that spot. Darrell summed it up best with “Not all spectacular shots are obvious.” We completely agree, but also think this shot is obviously spectacular.

The Share the Experience photo contest is a chance for amateur photographers to submit inspiring images of America’s federal lands, national parks, forests, waterways and historical sites to win cash prizes, outdoor equipment, annual federal recreation passes and hotel packages courtesy of Historic Hotels of America. The grand prize for the winning image is $10,000, followed by $5,000 and $3,000 for second and third place, in addition to outdoor gear and an annual pass. There are also prizes for fan favorites and one each for the following six categories:

  • Adventure and Outdoor Recreation
  • Historical and Cultural
  • Scenic, Seasons and Landscapes
  • Let’s Move Outside
  • Wildlife
  • Night Skies (a new category for the 2014 contest)