Interior Announces Share the Experience 2016 Photo Contest Winners

Citizen Photographers Compete for Photo Placement on National Public Lands and Waters Pass

Last edited 09/29/2021

Date: May 4, 2017

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Interior today, along with the National Park Foundation and other participating federal recreation land agencies, announced the winners of the 2016 Share the Experience photography contest on the agency’s popular Instagram account and launched the 2017 contest.

This annual contest invites amateur photographers to submit their favorite views, moments, and adventures from America’s national parks and public lands. The winning picture, captured by Craig McIntyre of Rockport, Texas, will be featured on the annual National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass.

“These incredible photos represent some of America's best recreation, wilderness and wildlife, and I'm happy to have the opportunity to share them with the nation,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke. “Expanding access for hunting, fishing, motorized recreation, hiking and more is a cornerstone of my agenda for America's public lands. From riders kicking-up dirt at the White Ridge Trail System in New Mexico to the amazing sunset behind Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam, the photos showcase that these places are truly for ‘the benefit and enjoyment of the people.' Hopefully they inspire some young people to get outside and enjoy it.”

More than 16,500 photos were submitted with more than 710,000 photo views over the course of the contest, which ran from April 28, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2016. The contest saw a 50 percent increase in new users and almost a 10 percent increase in overall photo submissions from the previous contest year.

“Photos have the power to inspire curiosity about our national parks and public lands,” said Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation. “This contest motivates people to get out, find their park, and enjoy these treasured places.”

Dabbling in wildlife photography since the early 1970s, grand prize winner Craig McIntyre of Rockport, Texas and his wife make weekly visits to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge during the summer months. 

“I like photographing the frogs because they’re artistic – little reptiles and amphibians are gorgeous to me. I’ve been studying them for 60 years now – patterns, designs, and their behavior all fascinate me,” said McIntyre. “Public lands are very important to me, especially places like Big Bend National Park, Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, and South Padre Island National Seashore. These places and the habitat need to be protected.” 

Second place went to Gary Hamer of Robins, Iowa, for the serene shot of his friends paddling off on a morning adventure surrounded by calm water and rising fog in Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, part of Superior National Forest, in northeastern Minnesota. 

Third place went to Christopher Regala of Mililani, Hawaii, for the photo he snapped of his son experiencing The Narrows at Zion National Park in Utah.

The grand prize for the winning image is $10,000, followed by $5,000 and $3,000 for second and third place. Winners also receive outdoor gear provided by Celestron and Osprey Packs, hotel packages courtesy of Historic Hotels of America® and an annual National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. Prizes are awarded for fan favorites and the following six category winners: 

  • Adventure and Outdoor Recreation
  • Historical and Cultural
  • Scenic, Seasons, and Landscapes
  • Family, Friends, and Fun 
  • Wildlife
  • Night Skies 

The 2017 Share the Experience photo contest, sponsored by the National Park Foundation in partnership with the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Forest Service, and, is now accepting entries through December 31. All entries have the chance to be featured on the Interior Department’s popular Twitter, Instagram and Facebook accounts. 

Share the Experience is the official photo contest of America’s national parks and federal recreational lands, showcasing the more than 500 million acres of federal lands and drawing entries from all across the United States. For a full listing of prizing and rules, or to submit a photo, please visit

Share the Experience is a great example of the countless ways there are to #FindYourPark/#EncuentraTuParque — a public awareness and education movement to inspire people from all backgrounds to connect with, celebrate, and support America’s national parks and community-based programs. #FindYourPark invites people to discover and share their own unique connections to our nation's natural landscapes, vibrant culture, and rich history.

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