Award-Winning Photos from the Great American Road Trip Contest
With the open road before them, Country readers captured the beauty of our nation. These award-winning photos truly honor that all-American tradition—the road trip.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
Grand Prize Award-Winning Photo: Starved Rock State Park, Illinois
This award-winning photo by Roy Goldsberry draws the viewer in from a unique perspective. Of his road trip travels he says, “I retired a few years ago, and my wife and I realized that we could do stuff on the spur of the moment. When we heard about Starved Rock State Park in Illinois, we visited for a few days. The park has small canyons and waterfalls, and we had a good time exploring them, including the falls in LaSalle Canyon.” Check out more contest winning photos of America’s parks.
First Place: Moose in Montana
Award winner Kelly Minor includes wildlife watching on her travels. Of this photo she says, “I’ve loved moose ever since I saw my first one on a trip to Montana. This young bull watched another bull pursue a lady moose when I snapped this image. His expression showed his hope that one day he’d be king of his domain.” Don’t miss 20 amazing wildlife photos in Yellowstone National Park.
Second Place: Corona Beach, California
Some road trips are so special they’re worth a repeat. Second place winner Andrew Weiss says, “Our annual family vacation brings us to Southern California, where we head to our secret spot on Corona Beach in Orange County. There’s nothing like a picnic on the beach with your family and watching the sun set over the ocean.” Check out the 15 best national park road trips to take all year long.
Third Place: Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Award-winning photos don’t just happen—sometimes they take a lot of work. Grand prize winner Roy Goldsberry also wins third place with this striking scene. He explains how he got the shot: “On a trip to Arizona we spent a couple of days in Page and took a tour of Antelope Canyon. We brought a tripod to help with the low light conditions. This is a favorite shot from that trip.” Explore the beauty and history of Verde Valley, Arizona.
Honorable Mention: Screech Owl
Michael Benson’s award-winning photo showed such incredible texture it deserved a shout-out. He says, “While horseback riding, my wife and I found this western screech-owl nesting atop a dead saguaro.” Don’t miss more outstanding pictures of owls.
Honorable Mention: Ouachita National Forest, Arkansas
Arkansas photographer Brennen Duffield captured this magical award-winning photo at night. He says, “Lights inside one of the few remaining fire lookouts in our state (this one is in Ouachita National Forest) made the tower look like a beacon pointing toward the dark, starry skies above.” Check out national forests with breathtaking fall foliage.
Honorable Mention: Abandoned General Store, Oklahoma
Kellie Carter of Newcastle, Oklahoma, says, “Sometimes on the way to a destination, you find something you weren’t looking for. On a road trip in western Oklahoma, we ran across a forgotten general store. What storms it must have weathered! It looks like it’s waiting for the old-timers to come by for a cup of coffee and the local news.”
Honorable Mention: Zion National Park
Kelly Minor of Cave Creek, Arizona, says, “The views from Angel’s Landing and the West Rim Trail in Utah’s Zion National Park are some of the most iconic views in the park. The hike is not for the faint of heart, but it will reward you. Autumn color dotted the canyon and storm clouds threatened for days, allowing for some very dramatic photos.” Discover 5 picturesque destinations for fall camping.
Honorable Mention: Southern Colorado
Jon Ruffalo of Warrenville, Illinois, says, “I took this photo in southern Colorado on a frigid, dry day. I was immediately taken aback by the massive views in every direction. This photo reminds me that traces of the Wild West do indeed exist somewhere far removed from our normal reality. Humanity has not completely conquered Mother Nature.” Love snow? Check out the 51 best winter bird photos.
Honorable Mention: Katmai National Park and Preserve
Michael Benson of Tucson, Arizona, captured another award-winning photo with this tender moment between a mama bear and her cub. He says, “My brother and I headed to Katmai National Park and Preserve in Alaska to photograph bear cubs. In this photo, Mom was fishing in the middle of the river. Her cub, deciding it was time to eat, cautiously waded out to her. This photo captures his begging eyes as he tries to get a bite in while his mother devours a freshly caught salmon.” If you love nature, don’t miss these spectacular hummingbird photo contest winners.