12 Times Nature Wowed Us in 2015

Just like every other year since the beginning of time, Nature really put on a show for us in 2015! We gathered together 12 of our favorite natural moments from the year — moments that demonstrate the wonder, beauty, and fun of the great outdoors. From sunrises to a dancing elk, this collection will remind you of how wonderfully alive the Earth is. Take a few minutes to explore these 12, and feel free to add your own "Wow!" moment.

1. Sunrise at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

alt="sunrise over mountains in great smoky mountains national park"

Photo by Santosh Kanthety.

"Good morning" doesnt quite capture the view when dawn's first light hits the fall colors of the Great Smokies. "Awesome Morning" or "Morning Without Compare" is more like it!

2. The Baby Squirrels at President's Park (White House)

Baby squirrels in gloved hands

NPS photo

Remember back in July when NPS employees discovered these newborn squirrels in a removed tree limb? Go ahead, relive those "awwww" moments.

3. Spraying Spotted Skunk at Saguaro National Park

skunk standing before spaying

NPS video/Saguaro NP

Did you know that a spotted skunk stands on its front legs before spraying? We didn't. Wow. Just wow.

4. Fresh snow in Rocky Mountain National Park

Screenshot of fresh snow falling

NPS photo/Rocky Mountain NP

"Oh, the silent majesty of a winter's morn. The clean, cool chill of the holiday air." Just try to watch this video only once.

5. The Sea Otters in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve

Group of otters in the ocean

Photo by Becky King

Fur hunters nearly wiped out sea otters in the North Pacific, but thanks to conservation efforts, more than 3,000 now make their home in Glacier Bay. Boy, are we glad about that!

6. Dancing Elk at Grand Canyon National Park

Screenshot of elk dancing

Video by Diane Kirkendall

Dancing is a fun and easy way to exercise, and this young elk has some sweet moves. This could–no, should– be the next dance craze.

7. Basking shark at Channel Islands National Park

Basking shark

NPS video/Channel Islands NP

You might think that the second largest living fish (a basking shark, above) would be easy to spot. When divers from Channel Islands National Park's Kelp Forest Monitoring Program saw this shark in June, it was the first time since 1991! Wowza!

8. Rainbow at Badlands National Park

rainbow at badlands national park

NPS photo

Oh, wow! A rainbow, all the way across the sky. And at Badlands National Park. Thanks, nature.

9. Bobcat in Saguaro at Organ Pipe National Park

Bobcat hidden in a cactus

NPS photo

This bobcat hiding in saguaro fills us with wonder. Like, why did the bobcat climb the saguaro? Did it hurt? How will it get down? Do thorns go through bobcat fur? So much wonder.

10. 2015 BioBlitz in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

youth dancing at bioblitz

NPS photo

The Youth Ambassadors performing the BioBlitz Dance certainly have something to celebrate. During the annual biodiversity inventory, participants counted 416 species, including 22 species not previously recorded in the park. Wow, that's a lot of life!

11. BFFs in Estes Park, Colo.

Deer and bunny playing together

Video by Steve and Vicky Johnsen/YMCA of the Rockies

Nothing compares to a rockin' game of tag with your bestie. Even if she's a different species.



12. Starry, starry night at Canyonlands National Park

star filled night sky

Image by Dan Duriscoe.

Boom. The International Dark-Sky Association granted Gold-Tier International Dark Sky Park status to Canyonlands in 2015. Good night, moon. And stars. And Milky Way.

Thanks, 2015!

Last updated: April 6, 2016