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Previous Photo Contest Winners

Click on thumbnails for the full size image. For official descriptions of these NNLs, please visit the NNL Directory. Be sure to view the current winners from the most recent contest.

2012 Winners

Porcupine Mountain Bigelow Mountain Burney Falls
1st Place
Porcupine Mountain, MI
Photo by David Braithwaite
of Ontonagon, MI

Designated a NNL in 1984, Porcupine Mountain contains a large tract of white pine with the best and largest stand of virgin northern hemlock in the lake states and the largest relatively undisturbed northern hemlock hardwood forest west of the Adirondacks. The site contains excellent examples of wave-cut beaches marking former glacial lake shorelines.

2nd Place
Bigelow Mountain, ME
Photo by David Hobson
of Norwich, VT

In terms of size, condition and lack of disturbance, Bigelow Mountain possesses one of the best alpine vegetation zones among New England’s 4,000-foot peaks. It is exceptionally scenic and wild, with some of the best summit views in the eastern United States. The site was designated a NNL in 1975.

3rd Place
Burney Falls, CA
Photo by Amy Drown
of Colorado Springs, CO

Burney Falls, located within McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park, contains some of the best examples in the western United States of a river drainage regulated by stratigraphically-controlled springs, and of a waterfall formed by undercutting of horizontal rock layers. The site was designated a NNL in 1984.

2011 Winners

Hanging Lake Archbold Biological Station Monument Rocks
1st Place
Hanging Lake, Colorado
Photo by Debra Miller
of Highlands Ranch, CO

Designated a NNL in 2011, Hanging Lake is a unique example within the Southern Rocky Mountains biophysiographic province of a lake formed by travertine deposition. It is one of the larger and least altered travertine systems in the province, where natural geologic and hydrologic processes continue to operate as they have done throughout the history of the lake. The site also supports one of the best and largest examples of a hanging garden plant community in the province.

2nd Place
Archbold Biological Station, Florida
Photo by Reed Bowman
of Sebring, FL

The Archbold Biological Station, designated an NNL in 1987, encompasses the largest known relatively undisturbed tract of contiguous natural communities characteristics of the Lake Wales Ridge. Lake Annie is the highest quality water supply left in the system of valley sink lakes that extends northward from the site. A large number of endemic and rare species of plants and animals are located here.

3rd Place
Monument Rocks Natural Area, Kansas
Photo by Rob Graham
of Great Bend, KS

Monument Rocks Natural Area includes pinnacles, small buttes, and spires of chalk of the Niobrara formation, and erosional remnants of sediments deposited in the ancient Kansas Sea of Cretaceous time. Designated a NNL in 1968, the site is a rich source of fossils of Cretaceous marine animals.

2010 Winners

Grapevine Mesa Dunes Nature Preserve Volo Bog Nature Preserve
1st Place
Grapevine Mesa Joshua Trees, Arizona
Photo by John H. Pilarski
of Milwaukee, WI

The Grapevine Mesa Joshua Trees forest contains the best existing display of Joshua trees in the United States. The diversity and excellent condition of the associated flora make this site, designated a NNL in 1967, a superb example of the Mojave Desert ecological unit.

2nd Place
Dunes Nature Preserve, Indiana
Photo by Christopher Jordan
of Indianapolis, IN

The Dunes Nature Preserve, located within Indiana Dunes State Park, is the best remaining example of undeveloped and relatively unspoiled dune landscape along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, a portion of which is known as the "Birthplace of American Ecology." This site, designated a NNL in 1974, also contains the Ancient Pines Nature Area, a prehistoric forest now exposed by dune blowouts.

3rd Place
Volo Bog Nature Preserve, Illinois
Photo by Rodrigo Roesch
of Glenview, IL

The Volo Bog Nature Preserve, designated a NNL in 1972, contains many unusual or rare plants that are characteristic of the classic northern quaking bog.

2009 Winners

Burney Falls Monument Rocks Russel Lakes
1st Place
Burney Falls, California
Photo by Jim Shoemaker
of Oak Park, CA

Burney Falls, designated a NNL in 1984, contains some of the best examples in the western United States of a river drainage regulated by stratigraphically-controlled springs, and of a waterfall formed by undercutting of horizontal rock layers. This landmark is located within McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park.

2nd Place
Monument Rocks Natural Area, Kansas
Photo by Rob Graham
of Great Bend, KS

Monument Rocks Natural Area was designated a NNL in 1968. This site includes pinnacles, small buttes, chalk spires of the Niobrara formation, and erosional remnants of sediments deposited in the Kansas Sea during the Cretaceous Period.

3rd Place
Russell Lakes, Colorado
Photo by Sayre Hutchison
of Lakewood, CO

Russell Lakes, designated a NNL in 1975, represents one of the few remaining large, high-altitude, alkaline marshes in the southern Rocky Mountains. This landmark includes the most extensive bulrush marsh in Colorado, supports large numbers of flora and fauna and is an outstanding resting and breeding site for waterfowl.

2008 Winners

Wallula Gap Grande Ronde Goosenecks Garden of the Gods
1st Place
Wallula Gap, Washington
Photo by John Clement
of Kennewick, WA

Wallula Gap, designated a NNL in 1980, is the largest, most spectacular, and most significant of the several large water gaps through basalt anticlines in the Columbia River basin.

2nd Place
Grande Ronde Goosenecks, Washington
Photo by John Clement
of Kennewick, WA

Grande Ronde Goosenecks is a 1,500-foot deep canyon of circuitous meanders as photographed here. Designated a NNL in 1980, this site illustrates regional uplift and forced entrenchment of a stream.

3rd Place
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Photo by Terry Sim
of Colorado Springs, CO

Garden of the Gods, a Colorado Springs city-owned park was designated a NNL in 1971. The site is an outstanding illustration of the characteristics of sedimentary rocks and the vertical forces that produced the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains.

2007 Winners

Valley of Fire Monument Rocks Burney Falls
1st Place
Valley of Fire, Nevada
Photo by Joshua Bernick
of Alexandria, VA

Valley of Fire, designated a NNL in 1968, is an outstanding example of thrust faulting. A great fold, exposed through erosion, reveals huge rock formations, deep canyons, and a great variety of colors. This landmark is located within the Valley of Fire State Park.

2nd Place
Monument Rocks Natural Area, Kansas
Photo by Rob Graham
of Great Bend, KS

Monument Rocks Natural Area, designated a NNL in 1968, contains pinnacles, small buttes, and spires of chalk of the Niobrara formation. Erosional remnants of sediments deposited in the ancient Kansas Sea of Cretaceous time are a rich source of marine mammal fossils.

3rd Place
Burney Falls, California
Photo by Mike Rubin
of Shingletown, CA

Burney Falls, designated a NNL in 1984, contains some of the best examples in the western United States of a river drainage regulated by stratigraphically-controlled springs, and of a waterfall formed by undercutting of horizontal rock layers. This landmark is located within McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park.

2006 Winners

Garden of the Gods Eureka Dunes Great Falls of Paterson-Garret Mountain
1st Place
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
Photo by Justin Miller
of Boise, ID

Garden of the Gods, designated a NNL in 1971, is an outstanding illustration of the characteristics of sedimentary rocks, including structure, color and mineral composition. The site also nicely illustrates the vertical forces that produced the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, as seen in the background of this photograph. This landmark is a Colorado Springs city-owned park.

2nd Place
Eureka Dunes, California
Photo by Mark Pahuta
of Ridgecrest, CA

Eureka Dunes, designated a NNL in 1983, provides an excellent example of wind-shaped landscapes. It is the tallest dune complex in the Great Basin region of the U.S. The site also contains an endangered grass genus, one species of which is the only plant capable of surviving on and stabilizing the steep dune slopes. Eureka Dunes is located within Death Valley National Park.

3rd Place
Great Falls of Paterson-Garrett Mountain, New Jersey
Photo by Gianfranco Archimede
of Paterson, NJ

Great Falls of Paterson and Garrett Mountain, designated a NNL in 1967, provides an excellent illustration of the jointed Watchung basaltic lava flow that occurred in the early Mesozoic Era. This event began a period of geological extrusion and intrusion throughout eastern North America and influenced present day landforms in the region, such as the waterfall depicted in this photograph. The falls are located in the heart of Paterson, New Jersey.

2005 Winners

Medicine Lake Cathedral Caverns Black Chasm Cave
1st Place
Medicine Lake Site, Montana
Photo by Carter Thurman
of Sewanee, TN

Although prairie landscapes often appear subtle, this photo illustrates how the northern Great Plains have always been a dynamic place of extremes from the glacial processes that carved our landscape, to the climatic extremes that are part of each day here.

2nd Place
Cathedral Caverns, Alabama
Photo by Craig Stocks
of Delavan, IL

This photo of Cathedral Caverns shows the cave entrance which is one of the widest of any commercial cave in the world—126 feet wide and 25 feet tall.

3rd Place
Black Chasm Cave, California
Photo by Dave Bunnell
of Angels Camp, CA

This is the largest of the deep lakes in Black Chasm and boxwork (cave formations) are on the ceiling above. This is but one aspect of beauty in this National Natural Landmark.

2004 Winners

McNeil River State Game Sanctuary Paynes Preserve Caverns of Sonora
1st Place
McNeil River State Game Sanctuary, Alaska
Photo by Judy Alderson

McNeil River State Game Sanctuary is one of the premier bear viewing opportunities in the world. It is open to the public by permit only. McNeil River contains a series of small, shallow falls where brown bears concentrate to fish for chum salmon.

2nd Place
Paynes Prairie Preserve, Florida
Photo by Dominick Martino

Paynes Prairie is a 21,000 acre wilderness in southern Alachua county Florida. This picture is of the observation boardwalk at sunrise.

3rd Place
Caverns of Sonora, Texas
Photo by Heather Germaine

This site is significant because of the unusual cave formations, such as complex, bladed helictites that are often clear to transparent and the coralloid growths that give the cave a feathery or lacy appearance.

Last Updated: November 13, 2013