Scenic America is pleased to announce the winners of the 2022 America the Beautiful Photo Contest. We received more than 800 photos from professional and amateur photographers across the country. Entrants submitted examples of their original work showcasing our country’s beauty from different perspectives, locations, and points of view. A panel of judges made up of media and design professionals and photographers reviewed the entries to select the primary category winners.
Entries that were finalists in their respective categories were named Honorable Mentions. Fans, friends, and followers of Scenic America and the photographers voted for their top choices among these Honorable Mention designees to select a “Fan Favorite” category winner.
Best in Show
Photographer’s Note: Paradise Meadow along Going to the Sun Road in Glacier National Park is a great place to capture magnificent views and colorful sunsets with the added bonus of Bird Woman Falls to the left and the Weeping Wall on the road. This year in particular was truly magical with all the extra snow and moisture to feed all the waterfalls well into August so I took every advantage I could to get up there. Paradise Meadow is also the perfect place to capture glaciers, wildflowers, and fall colors which is why it is my favorite place in the park to photograph.
Category Winner: Beaches and Coasts
Photographer’s Note: West Quoddy Head Light is the easternmost lighthouse in the USA. The long exposure represents the passing of time as the lighthouse has been around since the late 1800s. A lighthouse on a cliff, with the ocean below, is a photographer’s dream.
Category Winner: Cities and Towns
Photographer’s Note: This photo was taken during the 2019 government shutdown. I went out to the Lincoln Memorial one cold morning and it was absolutely desolate; not even a park ranger was at the memorial due to the shutdown. The sunrise that morning was incredible and overall just a morning I’ll always remember.
Category Winner: Highways and Byways
Photographer’s Name: Michael Hills, Pittsburgh, PA
Photographer’s Website: michael-hills.pixels.com
Photographer’s Note: I captured this photo while visiting Zion National Park with my family in July 2022. We were driving on the incredibly scenic Mt. Carmel-Zion Highway that runs through the park and stopped at one of the many pull-outs to get this shot. I had to stand in the middle of the road to get the lines just right, framed it vertically, and got the shot I was after.
Category Winner: Mountains and Valleys
Photographer’s Note: Every photographer dreams of a night like the one I experienced on Roan Mountain. The fog and clouds were dancing on the mountaintops all evening, and when the sun set, it lit up the sky and rocks with an explosion of color.
Category Winner: Open Spaces
Photographer’s Name: Chandler Weber, Little Rock, AR
Photographer’s Note: This image was captured while out storm-chasing in April 2022 near a small town called Hope, Kansas. “Hope” was indeed an appropriate name as I (very carefully) set up my tripod to capture long exposures of this quick-moving storm filled with CG bolts! Just a short few minutes later, this tornado-warned supercell produced a brief tornado over crop fields just outside of town, thankfully not harming anyone in its path.
Category Winner: People in Places
Photographer’s Note: This photo was taken on July 19, 2017, as the setting sun shone through thick smoke that had entered Yosemite National Park from the Detwiler wildfire. My friend Andrew and I had the Mist Trail to ourselves. It was an eerily beautiful scene- wildfire smoke filtering the sun as it filled the Merced River Canyon lighting the top of Vernal Falls.
Category Winner: Rivers and Waterways
Photographer’s Note: This photo was taken at the beginning of Fall. Sparks Lake located just outside of Bend, Oregon, was the location and sunrise did not disappoint that morning. I believe I walked away with many great ones that I consider some of my favorite landscape shots I’ve taken.
Category Winner: Trees and Forests
Photographer’s Note: So many times, I had visited Lake Moultrie in South Carolina hoping for quiet waters. My goal was to capture the calm and peaceful stillness of dawn with the reflection of the magical cypress trees. Persistence finally paid off on the last morning; I arrived in the dark and had to hike through a pine grove to reach the water’s edge. Midway into the trek, I saw a pink glow coming through the trees. I started running with a delirious smile. I arrived at a calm lake in a predawn pink glow and my cypress trees in perfect reflection, stunningly beautiful.
Category Winner: Fan Favorite
Photographer’s Name: Chandler Weber, Little Rock, AR
Photographer’s Note: I took this iconic image within Zion National Park just before Christmas of 2020. I found myself with a few free days before the holiday and decided to hop in the car and drove west some 20 hours for a marathon 5-day journey through Utah! The image itself almost didn’t happen, however. I thought I had missed sunset completely due to the cloud cover and the valley already being in shadow but decided to wait just a bit longer before packing up my tripod. Out of nowhere, the canyon wall and clouds were illuminated with this beautiful golden light that lasted but just a few minutes before it was gone again.