America is a land of stunning physical beauty, encompassing wide plains, endless deserts, soaring mountains, oceans, marshes, rivers, and everything in between. But to see our country’s most picturesque locations, you’ll probably need to take a trip off the beaten path. Lucky for us, that’s frequently co-op country.
What follows is a sampling of what the best of co-op-served America has to offer. Each image was taken by a co-op employee and is within the service territory of an electric cooperative. Many thanks to the talented co-op photographers who sent in an amazing array of quality shots.
Cumberland Valley Electric
Kentucky’s Cumberland Falls are known as “The Niagara of the South.” The dramatic seven-story plunge on the Kentucky River is also one of the only places in the Western Hemisphere where you can regularly see a “moonbow,” a rainbow generated by moonlight. Cumberland Valley Electric, headquartered in Gray, serves the area.
Grand Valley Power
The Rattlesnake Canyon trail, also known as the “Parade of Arches,” provides access to a canyon system containing the largest concentration of natural sandstone arches outside of Utah’s Arches National Monument. The canyon’s geologic formations include spires, windows, giant alcoves, and cliff faces in natural desert patinas. Grand Valley Power, based in Grand Junction, Colorado, serves the area and other portions of the McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.
Caney Fork Electric Cooperative
Burgess Falls State Park includes four waterfalls on a section of the Falling Water River that drops 250 feet in less than a mile. The final plunge, shown here, is the dramatic 130-foot Burgess Falls. The area is served by Caney Fork Electric Cooperative, headquartered in McMinnville, Tennessee.
Matanuska Electric Association
The Independence Mine was the heart and soul of territorial Alaska’s Boomtown. Between 1938 and 1943, hundreds of men mined gold and other minerals from 83 claims, hauling the minerals out of tunnels extending up to 12 miles into the mountains. The Independence Mine Historical Park is in Matanuska Electric Association’s service area in Palmer, Alaska.
Bitterroot River Valley
Ravalli Electric Cooperative
You can still see one of the areas that the Lewis and Clark expedition moved through more than 200 years ago. The Bitterroot River Valley covers parts of southwestern Montana and eastern Idaho, and the Bitterroot National Forest offers a glimpse at still-rugged America. Full-service facilities in the area get their electricity from Ravalli Electric Cooperative, based in Corvallis, Montana.
Rio Grande Electric Cooperative
Lake Amistad is literally an oasis in the desert. The huge reservoir completed in 1969 taps water from the Rio Grande, Pecos, and Devils rivers and is jointly owned by the United States and Mexico. With 1,000 miles of lake shoreline, the Amistad National Recreation Area, 12 miles northwest of Del Rio, is served by Rio Grande Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Brackettville, Texas.
The Victory Electric Cooperative
Dodge City earned a reputation as a wide-open cow-town in the late 19th century, and Hollywood has kept it going ever since. At the Boot Hill Museum, that history is celebrated 362 days a year, with interpretive re-enactors, historic exhibits and artifacts from the Old West. The power that keeps it all running comfortably for modern guests is provided by The Victory Electric Cooperative, headquartered in the Kansas city now known simply as Dodge.
Devil’s Tower National Monument
Powder River Energy
Have a close encounter with Devil’s Tower National Monument, designated by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1906 as the nation’s first national monument. The iconic 870-foot-tall rock butte has made appearances in dozens of movies and TV shows. Powder River Energy, based in Sundance, Wyoming, provides power to the region.
Hanging Rock State Park
Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation
Cascades Creek meanders through North Carolina’s Hanging Rock State Park, and along the way, four changes in elevation offer visitors distinctive views of vine-covered rock formations. The Lower Cascades, seen here, drops 35 feet to the plunge pool below. The park is in the service territory of Surry-Yadkin Electric Membership Corporation, headquartered in Dobson, North Carolina.
Lone Ranch Beach
Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative
Cruise up historic U.S. 101 and you’ll see the craggy coastline of Lone Ranch Beach, near Brookings, Oregon. Known for its seabirds, marine life, and coastal flora, this section of Oregon’s Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor is served by Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, based in Port Orford, Oregon.
Caprock Canyons State Park
Lighthouse Electric Cooperative
The Lone Star State is cattle country, but the official bison herd of Texas roams free on 10,000 acres of Caprock Canyons State Park, in the service territory of Floydada, Texas-based Lighthouse Electric Cooperative. Legendary rancher Charlie Goodnight established the herd there in 1878 to help save the species from extinction.
Glacier National Park
Glacier Electric Cooperative
Big Sky Country begins just over the tops of majestic peaks in northwestern Montana, a few miles from the Continental Divide. Glacier National Park spans more than 1 million acres and includes parts of two mountain ranges and well over 100 lakes. Electric service in the eastern area is provided by Glacier Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Cut Bank, Montana.
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative
For nearly 150 years, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse has served as a reassuring landmark for seafarers off North Carolina’s Atlantic Coast. The 200-foot-tall brick structure is about 2,900 feet away from the site of an earlier beacon dating back to 1803. The Cape Hatteras National Seashore is located in Buxton and served by Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative.
Delaware Electric Cooperative
For more than 80 years, Bombay Hook has been a resting and feeding stopover for great flocks of migratory birds moving along the eastern flyway. Waterfowl prefer the spoils and flats that stretch eastward toward the Atlantic, but smaller migratory forest birds can be seen and heard in the tall trees inshore. Delaware Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Greenwood, serves the area.
Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative
The Bogue Banks of North Carolina stretch for 21 miles along the Atlantic coast, and the barrier island offers public beaches, fishing, and other attractions. A maritime forest managed by the state is teeming with birds and other wildlife. Carteret-Craven Electric Cooperative, headquartered in Newport, North Carolina, provides power to the area.
Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests
Clearwater Power Company
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are known for the Palouse Divide Nordic Ski Area, but for back-country hiking, camping, and nature watching, the National Forest Service offers five wilderness areas. Lodges in the area are available for those seeking less rustic accommodations and Lewiston, Idaho-based Clearwater Power Company provides the electricity.
Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative
Kartchner Caverns was discovered by cavers in 1978 and purchased by the state 10 years later. The underground experience includes tours of geologic formations, still growing and changing after tens of thousands of years. The lights inside are powered with electricity from Willcox, Arizona-based Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative.
Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park
First Electric Cooperative Corp.
Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park, located near Scott, Arkansas, includes remains of a pre-Columbian Toltec site used for governmental and ceremonial purposes. The Toltec Mounds were developed more than 1,000 years ago, near the Arkansas River. The area is served by First Electric Cooperative Corp., headquartered in Jacksonville.