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Photo Set



Photos: America’s Great Outdoors Beaches


June 7, 2012

President Obama has declared June as National Oceans Month. This photo gallery highlights just a few of America’s “best beaches” that are found on Interior lands as millions of travelers plan their summer vacations. These lands include 85  marine and coastal parklands,  180 marine and coastal wildlife refuges, and 1,100 miles of the California coast administered by Interior agencies. In addition to beautiful scenery, these areas help local tourist economies.  In 2010, coastal national park units alone contributed an estimated $3.5 Billion to local economies, while refuges contributed at least $900 million.


  • Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge on the Virginia end of Assateague Island includes more than 14,000 acres of beach, dunes, marsh, and maritime forest. Within a workday’s access to millions of people, Chincoteague Refuge received 1.36 million visitors in 2010.  Adjacent to Assateague National Seashore, it has a great view of Assateague Lighthouse. Visitors to this and other Virginia coastal refuges contributed an estimated $60 million to local economies in 2010.
    FWS Photo
    Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
  • AMERICA’S GREAT OUTDOORS BEACHES  GOLDEN GATE NRA  Of the 85 marine and coastal units administered by the National Park Service, two  national recreation areas have the highest visitation—Golden Gate National Recreation Area in California and the Gateway National Recreation Area in New York and New Jersey.  The many beaches to enjoy and explore in Golden Gate include Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Tennessee Valley Beach, Rodeo Beach, Baker Beach, and Ocean Beach. This NPS photo shows the famous Cliff House shot from Ocean Beach.  In 2010, Golden Gate NRA had 14.3 million visits that contributed  $264 million and 3,445 jobs to the local economy. Nationwide, coastal and marine units of the National Park System contributed  $3.5 billion, not counting other Interior coastal units. NPS Photo
    Cliff House from Ocean Beach
  • Acadia National Park, Maine attracts summer vacationers who like its rugged shoreline and cooler temperatures. It is famous as the best place to watch the sun rise in the nation.  The park has two beaches staffed with lifeguards during the summer season.  Sand Beach offers ocean swimming. Echo Lake Beach, on the west side of the island, offers a somewhat warmer swimming experience. One of the most popular national parks, Acadia attracted 2.5 million visitors in 2010; the tourists contributed $186 million and 3,147 jobs to the local economy. NPS Photo by John Kelly
    ACAD Sand Beach 3 - NPS Photo by John Kelly
  • Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland and Virginia is a place to explore sandy beaches, salt marshes, maritime forests and coastal bays, bike on woodland trails, or horseback ride on the beach.  In 2010, .2.1 million visitors contributed more than  2,000 jobs and $142 million to local economies. NPS Photo
    Assateague Island NS
  • Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts, with 4.6 million visits in 2010, is the most popular national seashore. It generated $171 million for local economies, and supported more than 2300 jobs. The great Outer Beach described by Henry David Thoreau in the 19th century is protected within the national seashore, which features 40 miles of pristine sandy beach, marshes and uplands supporting diverse wildlife, lighthouses, wild cranberry bogs and more. NPS Photo
    Cape Cod National Seashore
  • Channel Islands National Park encompasses five remarkable islands and their ocean environment, preserving and protecting a wealth of natural and cultural resources. Isolation over thousands of years has created unique animals, plants, and archeological resources found nowhere else on Earth and helped preserve a place where visitors can experience coastal southern California as it once was. NPS Photo
    Channel Islands
  • Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida, protects the best beaches in the Key West area. NPS Photo
    Tent on Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Biscayne National Park, Florida. As one of the largest marine parks in the National Park System, this park is a favorite of snorkelers, protecting the northernmost Florida Keys and a portion of the world’s third largest coral reef as well as mangrove forests and clear bay waters. NPS - Thomas M. Strom
    Corals in the ocean near Biscayne National Park
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore in Florida and Mississippi attracted 4.3 visitors in 2010 despite the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that summer.  The lure of its famous white beaches and aquamarine waters endures. Visitors spent more than $68 million in boosting local economies in 2010. NPS Photo
    Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore was named by Parents Magazine in 2011 as one of the Top 10 Family Beaches in the United States.  In addition, in National Geographic's 2011 book entitled The Ten Best of Everything, Indiana Dunes is named as among the top ten national parks for Beaches, Wildflowers, Wetlands, and Urban Escapes.Located 30 miles from Chicago and accessible by commuter train, Indiana Dunes offers beautiful beach and views like this one from West Beach, in which he the skyline of Chicago is visible.  2.1 million visitors spent $44 million in 2010 and supported 658 jobs in the local economy. Costa Dillon
    West Beach Indiana Dunes
  • The great outdoors is just a subway ride away. Visitors to Gateway's 26,000 acres can bike, fish, kayak, go to the beach, camp overnight under a starry sky or explore Civil War-era forts and historic aircraft. See why over 325 bird species come to Gateway. Find out what's happening this week and this season on Staten Island, at Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn and Queens and at Sandy Hook, New Jersey. NPS - Jacob Riis
    jacob riisbeach, Jamaica Bay site of Gateway
  • Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge on the Hawaiian island of Kaua’i is home to a historic lighthouse and thousands of seabirds that nest in the steep cliffs.  The refuge is an ideal location to view the hundreds of humpback whales that visit the coastal waters each winter to give birth. FWS Photo
    Kilauea National Park
  • Muir Beach is part of the Golden Gate National Recreational Area that is one of the most iconic locations in the  San Francisco Bay Area. NPS - Julie Smith
    Muir Beach
  • Point Reyes National Seashore in California offers approximately 80 miles of shoreline, much of which park visitors may safely explore. This national seashore is famous for some of the most beautiful and cleanest beaches in California.  In 2010,  2 million visitors contributed  $84 million and almost a thousand jobs to the local economy. NPS - Nick Chill
    Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Olympic National Park, Washington contains a million acres and three major ecosystems. Don’t expect beaches with lifeguards, but do expect to experience a wild, rugged beach and colorful ocean tidepools as well as mountain vistas, meadows of wildflowers and remnants of ancient forests.  In 2010 Olympic welcomed 2.8 million visitors who contributed more than $100 million and almost 1400 jobs to local economies in Washington State. NPS Photo
    Olympic National Park
  • Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge complex, Oregon has the highest visitation of any coastal refuge at 3.8 million people who view the refuge from all along the Oregon coast.  It includes more than 1,400 coastal islands, rocks, and reefs scattered along the 320 miles of the state’s coast. From FWS scoping stations along the shore, visitors can view some of the million-plus seabirds that breed in the refuge’s islands.  Visitors to coastal refuges in Oregon spent an estimated $172.5 million. FWS - Roy Lowe
    Oregon Islands NWR by Roy Lowe, usfws
  • The Padre Island National Seashore has 70 miles of protected coastline, including a coastal prairie, a dynamic dune system, wind tidal flats teeming with life. A sanctuary and nesting grounds for the endangered  Kemp’s ridley sea turtle. A haven for 380 species of birds, a rich cultural history including the 1554 Spanish shipwrecks; and the Laguna Madre, one of the few hypersaline lagoon environments left in the world. NPS - Teresa Eimers
    Padre Island teresa eimers NPS
  • Pu'uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park, Hawaii is a sanctuary protecting ancient temples as well as the beaches where sea turtles climb ashore. NPS Photo
    Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
  • In December 2011, international travel guru Arthur Frommer ranked Florida’s Sanibel Island his all-time favorite world travel destination — ahead of Bali, Paris and St. John — because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge makes the island a mecca for “thousands of birds of every species…one of the great natural sights of wildlife in America.” FWS - Larry Richardson
    Pelicans at Sanibel Islands Wildlife Refuge
  • "Good Morning America" viewers voted Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan as a the most beautiful place in America.  It is one of 4 national lakeshores and 10 national seashores. NPS Photo
    Sleeping Bear Dunes Lake Michigan Beach at Esch Road
  • California Coastal Islands National Monument, Calif.  Located off the 1,100 miles of California coastline, the California Coastal National Monument comprises more than 20,000 small islands, rocks, exposed reefs, and pinnacles between Mexico and Oregon. Its scenic qualities and critical habitat of this public resource are protected as part of the BLM’s  National Landscape Conservation System. Establishing and supporting a series of 12 “CCNM Gateways”-- sections of the California coast that serve as focal points and visitor contact locations for the national monument-- has proven to be a very effective way of involving California’s coastal communities in the management and protection of their local coastal resources and helping with the enhancement of the local economy and geotourism. The small gateway community of Trinidad, shown here, has always been dependent on its coastal resources and the rocks and islands of the California Coastal National Monument. Before Euro-american settlement, the inhabitants of the Yurok village of Tsurai fished and collected from the rocks, small islands and seastacks -- each offshore rock has a Yurok name. Today, Trinidad is a tourist community. Visitors come to view the spectacular coastal scenery, walk its windswept beaches, and view some of California's largest seabird colonies on the offshore rocks and islands of the CA Coastal National Monument. BLM - Robert M. Wick
    Trinidad Beach in Oregon
  • Virgin Islands National Park, consisting of 7,000 acres on the island of St. John, is known as an “American Paradise.”  It provides a major source of income for the U.S. Virgin Islands.  In 2010,  visitors spent $61 million in surrounding areas and the impact of non-local visitor spending created more than a thousand jobs.  In April 2012,  the Park Service and Trust for Public Land jointly announced that 58 acres has been added to the park to protect the popular but wild beach at Maho Bay from development. TPL - Steve Simonsen
    Virgin Island National Park
  • Cape Hatteras National Seashore on North Carolina’s Outer Banks  was the first national seashore and is one of the most popular, featured on Dr. Beach’s “Best Beaches” list of 2012.  Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is probably the most famous lighthouse in America as well as the tallest brick light station.  Cape Hatteras, a Globally Important Bird Area, is a critical natural landform along the Atlantic Flyway - serving as a major resting and feeding grounds for migratory birds. Cape Hatteras National Seashore  and nearby Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge each had 1.6  million visitors in 2010.  That year the 17 million visitors to all of North Carolina’s National Parks contributed more than $701 million to local economies and supported more than 11,000 jobs in the state.  Visitors to all North Carolina national wildlife refuges contributed  $73.5 million and created almost 1400 jobs. NPS - Cynda M. Holden
    Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
  • Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
  • Cliff House from Ocean Beach
  • ACAD Sand Beach 3 - NPS Photo by John Kelly
  • Assateague Island NS
  • Cape Cod National Seashore
  • Channel Islands
  • Tent on Dry Tortugas National Park
  • Corals in the ocean near Biscayne National Park
  • Gulf Islands National Seashore
  • West Beach Indiana Dunes
  • jacob riisbeach, Jamaica Bay site of Gateway
  • Kilauea National Park
  • Muir Beach
  • Point Reyes National Seashore
  • Olympic National Park
  • Oregon Islands NWR by Roy Lowe, usfws
  • Padre Island teresa eimers NPS
  • Pu`uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
  • Pelicans at Sanibel Islands Wildlife Refuge
  • Sleeping Bear Dunes Lake Michigan Beach at Esch Road
  • Trinidad Beach in Oregon
  • Virgin Island National Park
  • Cape Hatteras Lighthouse