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National Parks as Living Art

Remember the “Star Gate” sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey when Bowman takes his far-out, psychedelic-twinged trip through deep space? Well, a new series of aerial photos of national parks at Wired offers you a similarly mind-blowing experience all from the comfort of your desk chair.

The NASA-sourced images of Death Valley National Park, Hawai'i’s Volcanoes National Park, and other national parks present a kaleidoscopic mosaic of colors, textures and beauty. From above, the natural treasures appear as abstract works of art. The perspective belies interesting natural features as well. Who knew the Northern California coastline near Redwood National Park was so, well, straight? Or that Crater Lake in Oregon was so, well, strikingly blue?

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind and forget how beautiful the earth really is—to forget how truly amazing the American landscape really is. We don’t need to go on a fantastical space odyssey like Bowman to see amazing sights or to have our minds sufficiently blown. And while none of us can experience first-hand the perspective of NASA satellites hovering above the planet, we can meander through ancient redwood forests, trek across the Southwest’s desert moonscape, and get a heady whiff of sulfur at one of Yellowstone’s geothermal oddities.

As the famed Norwegian environmental philosopher Arne Naess reminded his readers again and again, our connection to the natural world is enhanced and reinforced primarily through repeated personal experience in the natural world. So let these incredible images serve as your inspiration to make the most of summer’s remaining days and spend some time deepening your relationship with those portions of the earth yet to meet with concrete, skyscrapers and grey-walled cubicles.

Tags:  public lands

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