Bears Ears, Southeastern Utah
This spectacular landscape is a symbol of the risk to some of the country’s unique and irreplaceable places. One president preserved it at the urging of Native Americans who hold it sacred; another tried to open it to drilling and mining. A national monument rich with archaeological sites, it includes the Citadel, once a fortified cliff dwelling, now a popular hiking spot. Stephen Wilkes took 2,092 photos over 36 hours and selected 44 for this image, capturing a sunrise, a full moon, and a rare alignment of four planets. “Beyond the sense of awe and beauty,” he says, “there’s a palpable sense of history with every step you take."