Get Outdoors in the Great Outdoors

Recreating in nature offers us opportunities to better connect with the earth and inspire us to be good stewards of these wild places that we preserve and protect. Not only that, outdoor recreation is a part of our national heritage, improves quality of life, and adds value to our economy.  

What better way to enjoy the outdoors than by visiting the public lands near you? Being in nature provides so many benefits for a healthy lifestyle that no matter what your interests or hobbies, the outdoors has an activity for everyone. 

To celebrate June’s Great Outdoors Month, here are some ways you can get outdoors in the great outdoors! And remember, different land agencies have different missions, which means not all public lands have the same rules and regulations. Check agency websites or stop by a contact station before you set out on your great outdoors adventures and remember to plan like a park ranger and always Recreate Responsibly.

Public lands are for the birds.


A young birder looks through their binoculars while holding their birding booklet. Photo by Joanna Gilkeson, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The birdwatching opportunities on public lands are endless, and some of the most endangered species and rarest birds on the planet can be found in these protected places.

Whether you are just discovering the joys of bird watching or you are an experienced birder, the national wildlife refuge system is filled with endless bird watching moments. From bald eagles to spoonbills, condors to puffins, birds abound across national wildlife refuges. With more than 565 refuges within the U.S., chances are there’s a refuge near you!

Find a good watering hole.

People paddle down rapids in yellow inflatable rafts.

When the dog days of summer have you feeling the heat, it might be time to find the closest watering hole, lake, reservoir, or stream to cool down and recharge your soul. 

Water-based recreation is another avenue to access the wetter side of the great outdoors. Whether your activity of choice is kayaking, swimming, canoeing, skiing, or boating, there are public land areas that offer some H20 relief. 

Looking for some Interior specific places to dip your toes or cruise the pontoon? Here’s some resources to get you started:

  • The Bureau of Reclamation plays a major role in meeting the increasing public demands for water-based outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities. See if there’s a Reclamation water project near you.
  • The National Park Service manages some of the most pristine waters in the country. Not all NPS sites allow for water recreation, but many do. Plan your paddling adventure today!
  • The National Wildlife Refuge System has you covered with kayaking and canoe trails. Check out the long list of water trails and plan your next epic summer adventure.

Are you itching for more fishing?

Fishing Day participant holds a silver, glimmering fish in front of another participant
Fishing Day participants smile with their catch at the Northeast Fishery Center in Lamar, PA. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

From stress relief to family bonding, the benefits of fishing are endless! We have so many fishing hot spots to suggest that we could publish an entire blog on that topic alone. Here’s some resources to get you started on all the fishing opportunities that await you at Interior managed sites:

  • National parks offer many fishing opportunities; ranging from fly fishing along the Flathead River in Glacier National Park to crabbing off Cape Hatteras National Seashore. Decide where you would like to fish and then learn the regulations that apply to conserve fish for future generations.
  • They put the “FISH” in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service! USFWS always lives up to its name and provides some of the best places around to bring home the catch of the day. Visit the Let’s Go Fishing website to help you with the information you need to plan your next solo or family fishing outing.
  • The Bureau of Land Management has over 130,000 miles of fishable rivers and streams and provides countless public recreational fishing access opportunities throughout the country. To help you narrow down your search, the BLM has created a website to help you plan your next big fish story!

Your horoscope says it’s time to hit the trails.


A group of hikers travel down a trail in the Alabama Hills area of California. Photo by David Kirk, Bureau of Land Management.

Great Outdoors Month is the perfect time to hit the dusty trail. Hikers, here is your horoscope for the summer: 

You’ve had no shortage of outdoor connections since Jupiter moved into Aquarius last December. Solitude will be especially sweet for your upcoming summer. Use this wandering time wisely, contemplating how far you’ve come and how far you will go on the trails. Above all, make room for new positive habits, adventures, and outdoor experiences.

Now that we have that important business out of the way, let’s get inspired by the long, or short, trail journeys that could be in your future. 

Bureau of Land Management areas have some of the best hiking trails for those seeking solitude. These peaceful trails offer everything from small foot paths through untrammeled wilderness, to National Historic Trails with developed trailheads and interpretive centers. Give in to your destiny and find the path/trail that’s right for you.

Just you, your camera, and nature.

A Joshua tree stands alone in the twilight, against silhouetted mountains in the distance at Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by National Park Service.
A Joshua tree stands alone in the twilight, against silhouetted mountains in the distance at Joshua Tree National Park. Photo by National Park Service.

Photography is an important part of national park history. Early photographers took pictures to show why these special places needed protection. You can continue the tradition of park photography by getting outdoors and capturing the beauty of these protected natural and historic wonders.

Here’s some tips when photographing national parks: 

  • Follow park rules and regulations on how far away you should stay from wildlife.
  • Stay on the safe side of barriers and railings and stick to trails.
  • If you want to take a picture of the animals, use a zoom lens on your camera. If you are close enough to take a selfie, you are wayyyy too close. 
  • If you see an animal, you are responsible for backing up to a safe distance, even if the animal moves toward you.
  • Last but not least, take some amazing photographs to share with friends, family, and even other nature lovers online. Use the hashtag #TeamPublicLands to show your community that you photograph responsibly.

Volunteer your time in a beautiful place.


Volunteer Carol Miltimore patrols a trail at Mount Rainier National Park. Photo by Kevin Bacher, National Park Service.

Every summer, the Department of the Interior asks Americans to volunteer on our public lands. Building on Interior's proud legacy of service, volunteers have lent their talents and skills within their communities and at wildlife refuges, fish hatcheries, national parks, recreation areas, and cultural sites across the country.

Give back and get outdoors at one of the thousands of Interior managed sites across the nation. Our Volunteer page can help get you started on finding some amazing volunteer opportunities at some of the most scenic and historically significant places in the country.

Load up the camper or pitch a tent.

Campsite with tree-lined lake in the background,
A tent set up on a flat dirt spot, surrounded by trees and a lake at Hyatt Lake in Oregon. Photo by Toshio Suzuki, Bureau of Land Management.

We all have different reasons for camping. Some like to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. Some families go camping to revitalize their relationships, away from all the distractions at home. Whatever your reason, loading up the camper or the tent, and sleeping out under the stars can recharge your body and mind. 

The National Park Service has some of the most epic camping spots available for outdoor enthusiasts and they have a variety of places you can set up your tent, hammock or camper. From the backcountry wilderness of a national park to your own backyard, the National Park Service website called Where Can I Camp will help you find a national park campground for you, your family, or group of friends and give you tips on what to expect when you get there.

Hunting for a place to hunt?


Two hunters scope out their prospective targets on a distant hillside in Wrangell-St Elias Wilderness. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Hunters are some of our most ardent conservationists and they play an important role in ensuring the future of diverse and healthy wildlife populations. In the U.S., hunting is a wildlife management tool, part of cultural traditions, and a means to feed communities.

Millions of acres of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service land across the country is open for hunters. Breaking News: now there are even more places to hunt! Just in time for Great Outdoors Month, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has expanded opportunities for hunting and fishing.

The proposal for new or expanded hunting opportunities for game species across 2.1 million acres at 90 national wildlife refuges across the U.S. means your hunting trip choices just got bigger. Check out all of the national wildlife refuges and fish hatcheries where you can plan your next hunt.

Wildlife viewing can be extremely wild.

Light brown bear stands in a river with a fish in its mouth.
A Kodiak bear grabs a salmon to eat from a river. Photo by Lisa Hupp, USFWS. 

Watching wildlife can be as calm or as intense as you make it. Sure you’ve seen the gluttonous bears stuffing their mouths with salmon on the Katmai National Park live cameras, but have you ever experienced this magical feast first hand? Here’s some places to put on your wildlife watching bucket-list as well as ways to stay safe while there.

Katmai National Park - come for the bears, stay for the mosquitos

Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge - birds, birds, and more birds

Everglades National Park - alligators are up close and personal at this Florida swamp

Vermillion Cliffs National Monument - home to the rare and endangered California condor

Leadville National Fish Hatchery - wildlife, fish, and fun for the whole family

When viewing wildlife, remember to follow these helpful rules:

  • Give them space – Always stay a good distance away from wildlife not just for your safety but theirs as well. Humans can stress wildlife out and that can lead to poor health for them and their young.
  • Move calmly and stay quiet – Wildlife prefer an environment that’s filled with the natural sounds of the outdoors. 
  • Stay on the trail and behind barriers – Leave no trace that you were ever there.
  • Bring the right tools – Make sure to pack binoculars, spotting scopes, or a camera with a zoom lens so that you can view the wildlife without having to encroach on their space.
  • Don’t feed the wildlife – Your handouts could hurt their digestive systems and make them dependent on future handouts.

Participate in some citizen science!


Two young citizen scientists participate in a bird count. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Who loves science more than the U.S. Geological Survey? USGS is the sole science agency for the Department of the Interior and they love citizen science.

Citizen science allows the public to contribute to science no matter where they live! Whether by asking questions, reporting observations, conducting experiments, or collecting data, you can use your talents to help advance scientific knowledge. Learn more about current USGS citizen science opportunities at their Citizen Science Outreach page