11 Photos That Prove Nature Is the Best Playground

This stunning photo series shows what happens when you leave behind the electronics, go outside, and add a little dirt and water.

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For the last 10 years Dennis DeHart, a professor of photography at Washington State University, has showed his boys Emmit and Asher why the great outdoors is so great. The result was a series called At Play, an artistic meditation on the importance of free play in nature. DeHart says that he owes a lot to his “mountain man” grandfather, who first got him out of the house and into the woods, and he wanted to pass that tradition along to his kids. Below he talks about a few of his favorite photos from the last few years, and what happens when you add a little dirt and water (and the odd Luchador mask) to childhood. Of the photo above he says: “Rivers make up a significant part of the region and play a vital role in energy and recreation. The photograph was made on a hot summer day in the Snake River, near Asotin, Washington.”

“The image [below] was made in the front yard of our friend’s house during an afternoon get together. Fire and sticks have continually been a source of fascination for my two boys.”

“This photo was made in the semi-mountainous terrain of Orcas Island called Mt. Pickett. The trail is next to Moran State Park and is the path that sons take in order to visit their Nana.”

“A love for animals has always been a part of my younger son’s narrative. The reverence and respect evolved while he was learning to ride horses. There is nothing like managing a 2,000-pound horse as a 9-year-old, to learn about the power of nature.”

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