Last month thousands of Americans celebrated National Forest Week with us. We received more than 1,400 submissions in our annual photo contest. From Louisana’s Kisatchie National Forest to Washington’s Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and beyond, these photos shared incredible stories and scenes from our nation’s forests.

Check out the winners of this year's contest below.

We invite you to check out the winners below and submit your photo to be featured on our Instagram page.

First place

White River National Forest, Colorado

“I made several choices, both physical and mental, when creating this photograph. While I was exhausted from climbing mountains and skiing in the backcountry all day, I knew I really wanted to get this shot. So instead of crawling into my sleeping bag, I waited as the temperature dropped significantly below freezing and the stars came out – I took countless 30 second exposures until I was satisfied with the image. “

Photo by Gabriel Rovick

Second place

Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, Montana

"I belong to places like this. There are a few roads, but they wind invitingly through the mountains. They beg for you to go just a little bit farther, just a little bit higher, because they know what is around the corner and they know you need to experience it. Flowers abound in an array of color that you would not dare imagine. They bob their head in the breeze like lazy dancers on a hot summer day. If the flora are rich and thick, the fauna are wild and free. From the tiny Voles that help aerate the soil to the Great Grey Owls that hunt them from the air or from the Mule Deer graze in the meadows to the Grizzly Bears that dominate the food chain, this is a truly wild place. There are vast meadows lined with stately Fir Trees. There are rocky precipices and ponds which reflect the grand landscape better than any mirror. There are dense forests protecting unseen wildlife and there are windswept alpine ridges where stunted flowers take shelter behind the rocks.

During the day, the whole mountain range is alive with wildlife and plants doing what they must to continue the existence of their species. Forget-Me-Nots sway in the breeze, Bee’s zoom about, Moose browse the willows, Beavers inspect their handiwork, and Birds sing a melody fitting for such a glorious place. It is good to sit for a spell and just absorb the tranquility.

Now, I am usually an “early to bed, early to rise” sort of a guy, but when you’re up here, you feel compelled to stay up to watch the stars come out. As the last shades of sunset fade to black, the stars begin appearing on the stage of night. It is a show that you do not want to miss. On top of the mountains, there is no such thing as a bad seat. Tonight would be a grand show indeed as galaxies, planets, and a phenomena known as airglow would be headlining the show. It is exciting to stand in the dark and wonder what creatures may be watching you. Up here it could be just about any animal that calls Montana home. As lightning flashed far to my north and the sliver of the crescent Moon ducked behind the storm clouds, I began to capture the images needed for this panorama. While the camera certainly enhances what is there, I could see this scene with my unaided eyes. I didn’t even need a flashlight to see around me, although I did admittedly shine a light around occasionally to make sure that I would not become someone’s midnight snack!

Wild places, be they at sea level on a rocky California coastline or high above tree line in the Montana Rockies, make me happy. A place where every living thing has a purpose and is permitted to carry out that function. A place where the stars are as visible as the flowers and I can take the time to admire them both. A place where I can witness the Sun greeting the morning with its glorious rays and watch it sink below the horizon on the other side of the sky. Ahhhh, wilderness, a place where I belong."

Photo by Paul Holdorf

Third Place

Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina

"Wilderness Cabin in the Autumn Woods."

Photo by Clay McCreary

Honorable Mentions

Shasta-Trinity National Forest, California

"Loving the McCloud River."

Photo by Veronica Miranda

Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico

“A day hike in the stunning landscape of Pecos Wilderness.”

Photo by Elizabeth Evans

Sawtooth National Forest, Idaho

“The Sawtooth National Forest is home to some incredibly epic views. With the mountains, lakes and wildflowers, there is no shortage of photo ops. I took this shot one evening at Stanley Lake in the Sawtooth National Forest. “

Photo by Beth Mancuso

We’d like to thank all who participated in the photo contest.

Click here to submit your photo to be featured on the National Forest Foundation Instagram page.

National Forest Foundation