National Geographic
Menu

Top 20 Photos of 2013 from American Prairie Reserve

Looking back over a year’s worth of photos, the prairie weaves an ever-changing tale of drama, peace, microscopic detail, magnitude, and resilience. The seasons become less defined, and the decade I’ve spent helping build American Prairie Reserve blends in a single, long journey. As you scroll through our snapshots from the field, I hope you get a sense of this back and forth battle between wildness and solitude that’s inherent in grassland ecosystems. It’s part of what makes them uncommon in today’s world and necessary for humans and wildlife alike. See you on the trail in 2014 – you never know what lies ahead on the prairie.

Snowy owls arrived on the Reserve in early 2013. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
Snowy owls arrived on the Reserve in early 2013. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
A summer storm is no match for the bison herd on American Prairie Reserve. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
A summer storm is no match for the bison herd on American Prairie Reserve. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
During a spring cross country hike, I came upon this hidden nest of vesper sparrow chicks. Photo: Sean Gerrity/APR
During a spring cross country hike, I came upon this hidden nest of vesper sparrow chicks. Photo: Sean Gerrity/APR
When summer storms roll in late afternoon, the prairie lights up with a 360-degree show. Photo: APR Staff
When summer storms roll in late afternoon, the prairie lights up with an impressive show. Photo: APR Staff
Our staff appreciate the quiet and adventure found in early morning wildlife watching. Photo: Stacie Costello/APR
Our staff appreciate the quiet and adventure found in early morning wildlife watching. Photo: Stacie Costello/APR
Rainbows like this one can span the length of your entire view, framing the landscape in an almost surreal light. Photo: APR Staff
Rainbows like this one can span the length of the entire view, framing the landscape in a surreal light. Photo: APR Staff
American Prairie Reserve Board member Gib Myers snapped this shot from the air, capturing the unique landscape of the Northern Plains. Photo: Gib Myers/APR
APR Board member Gib Myers snapped this shot from the air, capturing the unique topography of the Northern Plains.
In early spring, before the prairie starts to green up, this lone bull was spotted wandering stoically across the prairie. Photo: Katy Teson/APR
Before the Reserve started to green up, this lone bull wandered stoically across the spring prairie. Photo: Katy Teson/APR
Summer visitors, especially kids, are drawn to the Reserve's scattered water sources much like prairie wildlife. Photo: APR Staff
Summer visitors, especially kids, are drawn to scattered water sources much like the wildlife. Photo: APR Staff
This young Northern Shoveler shows off its special beak, perfect for feasting on small aquatic species. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
A young Northern Shoveler shows off its special beak, perfect for straining out its meals. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
In summer months, bullsnakes like this one are often found sunning themselves in full view and quiet roads. Photo: Gib Myers/APR
Bullsnakes are often found sunning themselves in full view and quiet roads in the summer. Photo: Gib Myers/APR
Winter is the perfect time to see life on the prairie unfold. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
Winter is a great time to see life on the prairie unfold, even days later. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
Sharp-tailed grouse put on an annual mating dance, which Dennis compares to a feet-stamping tantrum by a young child. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
Sharp-tailed grouse have a fascinating annual mating dance, which Dennis compares to the feet-stamping tantrums of young children. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
The transition to fall is subtle on the prairie, and this crisp morning highlighted the slow change across the Reserve's dramatic topography. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
The transition to fall can be subtle on the prairie, and this crisp morning highlighted the slow change across the Reserve’s dramatic topography. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
Autumn afternoons like this one become rare as we head into November, signaling the departure of many migratory species. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
Autumn afternoons like this one become rare as we head into November, signaling the departure of many migratory species. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
As one of the grassland bird species that hangs around for winter on the prairie, greater sage-grouse are well camouflaged for survival. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
As one of the grassland birds that hangs around for winter on the prairie, greater sage-grouse are well camouflaged for survival. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
The prairie breaks away into stunning cliffs and hoodoo formations as you travel toward the Missouri River. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
The prairie breaks away into stunning cliffs and hoodoo formations as you travel toward the Missouri River. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
Despite a near collapse of the pronghorn population several winters ago, we were encouraged by the sight of small herds earlier this year. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
Despite a near collapse of the pronghorn population several winters ago, we were encouraged by the sight of small herds earlier this year. Photo: Dennis Lingohr/APR
This cedar waxwing was spotted in August by photographer and staff member Dennis Lingohr.
This colorful cedar waxwing was spotted in August by photographer and staff member Dennis Lingohr.
One of our camp facilities is but a small blip when put in a larger landscape context. The prairie never ceases to make you feel like part of a much larger system.
One of our camp facilities is a small blip when shown with the larger landscape. The prairie never ceases to make you feel like part of a bigger system. Photo: Kestrel Aerial/APR

 

American Prairie Reserve (APR) is assembling a world class wildlife reserve in northern Montana, with the goal of one day creating a seamless 3.5 million acre grassland ecosystem. APR’s President Sean Gerrity is a National Geographic Fellow. Learn more about the Reserve, including progress to date and how to visit, on the Reserve’s website.