The Maldives, The Great Wall of China, the tectonic plates in Iceland … there are thousands of incredible, awe-inspiring places all over the earth. But you don’t have to hop on a plane and travel 14 hours to see some really amazing places. There are a number of beautiful places right in the United States that you likely didn’t even realize exist. And in this post, we’ll take a look at a few of those magnificent places that will simply blow you away.
Zion National Park, Utah
Sure, the Grand Canyon is easily the most popular canyon in the United States, however, Zion Canyon in Zion National Park is just as impressive. Not only that, Zion National Park is an incredible camping location that boasts many gorgeous hiking trails including Canyon Overlook Trail, Emerald Pools Trail, Angels Landing, and The Narrows. And the best reason for camping overnight at Zion National Park? The unbelievable night sky filled with hundreds of thousands of stars.
Watkins Glen, New York
Watkins Glen, NY, situated in the middle of New York State between the Finger Lakes, is a serene, stunning hidden oasis complete with stone bridges, waterfalls (19 to be exact), trickling streams, and rocky, granite cliffs. Come during the autumn season, and you’ll be treated to a gorgeous display of bright yellow and orange fall foliage made even more beautiful by the light of the sun hitting the leaves just right. Many people come to Watkins Glen to hike the trails, take a dip in the water, and go trout fishing. This state park has plenty of spots for people interested in camping on the ground or even just coming in for a picnic.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Not only will you not believe Antelope Canyon is in the United States, but you’ll also have a hard time believing it’s even on earth. Walking through Antelope Canyon is like walking on a different planet. This slot canyon is made up of two parts: Upper Antelope Canyon (also known as The Crack) and Lower Antelope Canyon (also known as The Corkscrew). Visitors can opt for a guided tour and get a rich historical background on the famous canyon or go it alone (provided you take the proper safety measures, of course). The Antelope Canyon tour guide company even offers a photographer’s tour for seasoned photographers who wish to capture the most stunning shots of the canyon.
Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming
Right in Yellowstone National Park is Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest hot spring in the United States. It’s also the third largest hot spring in the world. The rainbow colored hot spring makes for an otherworldly view from all vantage points, whether you’re flying above it or standing right next to it. The orange, yellow, green, blue, and red colors are caused by a combination of the mineral-infused water coming in contact with the microbial mats. Sadly, no one is permitted to swim in Grand Prismatic Spring as well as any other hot spring in the national park. On the upside, there are plenty of locations around the park where visitors can take a dip and have a swimming experience that is very similar to being in a hot spring.
Mendenhall Glacier Caves, Alaska
The Mendenhall Glacier is a 13-mile glacier situated in Mendenhall Valley, a short car ride away from Juneau, Alaska. The stunning blue ice formations make for a surreal experience and boast stunningly photogenic views (perfect for your next Instagram post). There’s just one catch: in order to get to the blue ice caves, you’ll need to kayak down the river to the end of the ice, and then prepare yourself for a brisk climb over the glacier. It’s a good idea to plan a guided tour of the Mendenhall Glacier Caves, with tours typically happening July through September.
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
The White Sands National Monument is exactly what it sounds like: a 275 square-mile area of the Chihuahuan Desert filled with gorgeous white sand. The white gypsum sand dunes provide a striking contrast against the clear blue skies and there are many adventurous ways to explore the area. Set aside a couple of days to camp in the desert, go through the trails and dunes on your bike or in your car, or explore the area on horseback.
Ready to explore all the unique areas you never knew existed in the United States? Start planning your trip today by buying your bus ticket!