If you're a fan of more intellectual travel programming than one finds these days on the Travel Channel, you might like AERIAL AMERICA, Smithsonian Channel's televised "quest to capture all 50 states from the air." Call it high-concept or just call it high-up from an elevation standpoint, the fact remains, this series takes a different perspective on American points of interest than the "down and folksy in the BBQ pit" rambles that most networks are going for.
Here's a gallery of stills from the filming of this season of AERIAL AMERICA, which began airing July 14 and runs Sundays at 9 p.m.
Historic Harpers Ferry — a town that’s also a National Historic Park — is placed where two major rivers meet, and this photo illustrates that with its birds-eye perspective. The town is nearly encircled by the converging waters of the Potomac and Shenandoah. It’s easy to see why early settlers including Thomas Jefferson hailed it a “stupendous scene,” and also easy to understand why they found it a strategic location for a town. These days there are still a handful of residents in Harpers Ferry, but it primarily functions as a living history park.
Montezuma Castle National Monument
Cliff dwellings carved into limestone, approximately 800 years ago, once housed the Sinagua people; today they are under NPS protection. This was one of the first sites ever designated as a National Historic Landmark. Teddy Roosevelt declared Montezuma Castle and three others (including Devil’s Tower) as national heritage sites back in 1906. This particular landmark is remarkable not only for its geological makeup, but for the human enterprise which put a lasting mark on the limestone cliffs. The Sinagua’s vertigo-inducing multi-story “apartment-style” pueblos remain remarkably well preserved in the present day.
You’d never know Cleveland was once cruelly nicknamed “the Mistake on the Lake” by looking at this glorious sunset shot. Modern skyscrapers stand as testament to a generation of revitalization, economic growth and civic renewal. Lake Erie looks serene from this perspective, with little hint of the activity one would expect from such a busy maritime thoroughfare.
Driving south from Key Largo to Key West, the Keys become increasingly closer to the water, till by the time you reach Seven Mile Bridge (which connects the Middle and Lower Keys), it’s all around you. What this photo shows is how green they are. The lush tropical landscape often goes under-appreciated because of its reputation as a beach/boating/swimming destination — but it’s the contrast of all the green with the blue that makes them really special.
Though it’s one of the most photographed falls in the country, most images only capture this West Virginia landmark from a safe distance back, with the central point being the rocky protrusion that divides the falling water neatly in half. Seen from above, the falls seem more powerful and angry, more befitting the name and less like the serene forest pond seen on so many greeting cards and lithographs over the years.
Magnificent fall foliage blankets the Mississippi Headwaters in this aerial snapshot from a journey over Minnesota, the so-called “land of 10,000 lakes.”