A version of this article originally appeared in the National Geographic book 100 Parks, 5000 Ideas. There’s much ado about altitude at this remarkable park in the Colorado Rockies. In addition to having the highest average elevation of any other U.S. national park, Rocky Mountain boasts 70 peaks rising to more than 12,000 feet (3,657.6…

Just a few years ago, it looked as if humpback whale populations in the Pacific Ocean were booming. Receding sea ice due to climate change—though bad for polar bears and other wildlife—had lengthened the summer foraging season for hungry whales, and the U.S. government decided that certain populations had recovered enough to be taken off…

Brightly colored wallpaper peeling off the walls, dilapidated houses now inundated in rolling banks of sand … this is Kolmanskop, a ghost town in southern Africa’s Namib Desert, in the middle of a region known as “the forbidden zone.” And the story of how it got here is about as strange as the sight of…

About 115 million years ago in what’s now northwest China, a female bird was on the verge of motherhood. But somehow, her life on an ancient lakeshore took a traumatic turn, triggering a pregnancy complication that killed the egg forming inside her and may have even led to her *****. Entombed ever since, this mother…

When does an everyday errand become a life-changing act of kindness? When a simple packaged good purchase helps bring clean drinking water to children, families, and communities that desperately need it; when “1=1” means that consumers can help support a global cause initiative that’s changing lives. The P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program 1 purchase…

What makes a country happy? The United Nations considers the answer with its annual World Happiness Report, ranking a total of 156 countries. Key ingredients for well-being include longer healthy years of life, more social support, trust in government, higher GDP per capita, and generosity. This year’s list hosts the same top 10 countries as…

Learn about the unusual hulling technique that helps give Nespresso’s Master Origin Indonesia Arabica its classic, velvety flavor.Photograph by Rena EffendiRead CaptionCoffee farmer Iswandi picks coffee from his small farm of 0.75 hectares in Karang Rejo village, Wih Pesam Region, Bener Meriah Regency. Iswandi has been farming coffee for over 10 years.Photograph by Rena EffendiLearn…

Ponds that vanish and reappear, animals that go dormant and return to life—vernal pools feel a bit like spring magic, but they’re 100 percent real. These ephemeral habitats, found along the U.S. West Coast and throughout the Northeast and Midwest, form in natural depressions that have suitable soil for holding water. (See our beautiful photos…

The first Earth Day, on April 22, 1970, was a milestone event for the planet. An estimated 20 million people took to the streets across the U.S. to raise awareness about the impacts of human activities on the environment. Since then, the annual tradition has grown to involve billions of people around the world. This…

Gently singing Twinkle, twinkle, little star may lull a baby to sleep, but beyond the confines of Earth’s atmosphere, the words aren’t exactly accurate. A correct, albeit less soothing, rendition might be: Emit, emit, gigantic ball of gas. Stars are huge celestial bodies made mostly of hydrogen and helium that produce light and heat from…