Smithsonian Wilderness Forever Photo Contest Entries

scenic landscape
HONORABLE MENTION, SCENIC LANDSCAPE, PRO: William Patino (Wollongong, NSW, Australia)
Valley of Solace, Yosemite Wilderness in California
“At sunrise, I walked along the Merced River. I was delighted to see golden light spreading across the trees and glass-like water reflecting the monolithic mountains. All was silent except for the sound of trickling water.”
Photo and caption by William Patino / Smithsonian Wilderness Forever Contest

To observe and commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, which was enacted half a century ago on September 3, 1964, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History has put on exhibition Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America’s Wild Places. It is a photography display that showcases carefully selected and scrutinized images culled from over 5,000 entries.

WINNER, PEOPLE IN WILDERNESS, AMATEUR: Dawn M. LaPointe (Hermantown, Minnesota)
Sunset Paddle, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota
“Mother Nature is the master artist; I am a messenger.”
Photo and caption by Dawn M. LaPointe / Smithsonian Wilderness Forever Contest

The award-winning images on exhibition feature a seldom seen side of America which is one of unadultered wildlife. Using the eyes of professional, amateur, and student photographers, visitors of the exhibit can view stunning panoramas and the natural wildlife world as it exists today.

bear with fish
HONORABLE MENTION, WILDLIFE, AMATEUR: Robert Amoruso (Orlando, Florida)
Brown Bear Up Close (Ursus arctos). Katmai Wilderness, Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska.
“I created several images as the bear rose and then retreated to the far shore. This shot, with the bear gazing directly at me, was the best.”
Photo and caption by Robert Amoruso / Smithsonian Wilderness Forever Contest

The Wilderness Act is a key foundation of the United States’ conservation laws and helped establish the National Wilderness Preservation System that safeguards the country’s wildest and untouched federally protected lands. These locations include 758 wilderness zones that traverse more than 109 million acres in 44 states in addition to Puerto Rico. Collectively, they represent the biggest, most well-protected bodies of wild lands in America.

long exposure night
Milky Way over Second Beach, Olympic Wilderness in Washington.
“It’s important to protect our dark sky wilderness areas, away from light pollution, so everyone can enjoy unobstructed views into the heavens.”
Photo and caption by Joe LeFevre / Smithsonian Wilderness Forever Contest

Enacted into law in 1964 by President Johnson, the Wilderness Act was a victory for all who took pleasure in the open landscapes of the US and the natural heritage that they embody.

The esteemed judging body was composed of the following:

Adina LoBiondo: Photo Editor, Sierra magazine

Bob Wick: Photographer, BLM

Brendan McCabe: Photo Editor, Smithsonian magazine

Steve Freligh and Charles Veatch: Directors, Nature’s Best Photography

Susan Whitmore: Communications Director, U.S. Public Lands Conservation, The Pew Charitable Trusts

scenic landscape nature
WINNER, SCENIC LANDSCAPE, STUDENT: Thomas Goebel, age 18 (Jensen Beach, Florida)
Proxy Falls, Three Sisters Wilderness in Oregon
“This gem is one that you must see for yourself.”
Photo and caption by Thomas Goebel / Smithsonian Wilderness Forever Contest

Wilderness Forever: 50 Years of Protecting America’s Wild Places will be on view at the Smithsonian until summer next year. Viewers are enjoined to vote for their favorite entries, which they can do online in order to help select and determine which image will be showcased as a particular month’s spotlight. Read more about the photo exhibit here.

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Patricia Ramos

Patricia Ramos

I am a freelance photographer who is no stranger to smudged lenses, long hours in front of the computer, heavy camera bags (and the back aches that ensued) and missing lens caps. If you know what I'm talking about, you probably have as much love and passion for photography as I do.