Here's your chance to share the moments that made you smile while exploring the best America has to offer.

By Stacey Leasca
January 27, 2021
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Recreation.gov wants you to share your favorite outdoor memory with the world. In return, you could be handsomely rewarded.

On Tuesday, the website announced the launch of its first "Share Your Story" contest, calling on all adventurers to submit their stories and photos highlighting their recent outdoor activities for a chance to win cash prizes and to have their story featured on Recreation.gov.

"This past year, visitors used Recreation.gov to find and book trips where they found solace exploring and spending time outdoors," Rick DeLappe, Program Manager at Recreation.gov, shared in a statement. "People across the nation were eager to get outside and experience nature in a whole new way. Now Recreation.gov wants to hear your stories of finding peace, tranquility, or adventure during 2020 — whether it was a hike in a local forest or a weekend by the campfire, a first-time experience or an adventure you've enjoyed over the years."

Those interested in sharing their tales can submit stories and photos that fall within at least one of six categories, including Traditions (Old and New), Reflection Journeys, RV/Campervans, Family or Group Travel, Activities and Adventure, and Best Time Ever.

"Finding ways to spend time outdoors has been critical for individuals and communities during this public health crisis," Eugenie Bostrom, Recreate Responsibly Coalition Manager, added. "As we reflect on the benefits that nature provides during challenging times, we can rely on storytelling to keep us connected and to provide comfort. In celebrating stories of outdoor adventures or peace-seeking in nature, we can see ourselves in each other and in the places that tie us together. The genesis of #RecreateResponsibly is to care for one another and for the places that we play or find solace, and we can share that through insightful and uplifting recollections of our experiences."

Couple sitting on cliff, Glacier National Park, Montana
Credit: Getty Images/Cavan Images RF

Participants can enter up to two stories during the contest period up to April 30, 2021, for a chance to be one of the total 33 winners of various prizes. The first Grand Prize Winner will receive $2,500 from an outdoor retailer, the Second Grand Prize Winner will receive $1,500 from an outdoor retailer, and the third Grand Prize will receive $1,000 from an outdoor retailer. Each grand prize winner will receive an America the Beautiful (ATB) pass.

The first-place winners in each category will receive $300 from an outdoor retailer and an ATB pass, and each second-place winner will receive $150 from an outdoor retailer and an ATB pass. And there are more prizes to be had from there.

To qualify to win, stories and accompanying photos must have taken place between Jan. 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, and must take place within the participating agencies: National Park Service; U.S. Bureau of Land Management; U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; National Archives; and NOAA Marine Sanctuaries.

Ready to submit your own story? Check out all the guidelines and share on the Recreation.gov website now. Winners will be announced on May 15, 2021.

Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.