Many believe you have to fly around the world for otherworldly landscapes, but there are plenty of wonders to be right in your own backyard. While some of these are protected national parks, others are just wild tidings, magical gifts from Mother Nature herself. From sea to shining sea, here are the most incredible places in America.
Fly Geyser – Nevada
A colorful rainbow spout in the middle of the Black Rock Desert, Fly Geyser is owned by the Burning Man Project (yes, the festival). Created as a happy accident by geothermal drilling, it’s what happens when man and nature collide.
Bonneville Salt Flats – Utah
You don’t have to go all the way to Bolivia for reflective pictures of salt flats, you just have to go to northern Utah. Formed during the ice age as the lake evaporated, the salty microenvironment prevented vegetation growth. During the summer, cars compete in land speed races, which is pretty entertaining to watch.
Grand Prismatic Spring – Wyoming
Most people go to Yellowstone National Park for Old Faithful, but the rainbow hot springs at Midway Geyser Basin are what captured my eye. Grand Prismatic Spring is the largest hot springs in America and its colors aren’t photoshopped – they really are those brilliant hues.
The Grand Canyon – Arizona
Millions of years of geographical history banded in colorful rock, The Grand Canyon is arguably one of the US’s biggest tourist attractions (and celebrating their 100th anniversary this year). The South Rim is more accessible for day trippers, but any view will not disappoint.
Horseshoe Bend – Arizona
I could go on and on about Arizona, but I already have a whole article dedicated to their natural wonders. I will highlight one more — Horseshoe Bend. A naturally formed horseshoe-shaped formation in the Colorado River, the rock walls appear to glow as the light hits it just right creating all kinds of colorful captures.
Yellow Mounds – South Dakota
The Badlands is the most underrated national park in the country in my opinion. Yellow Mounds looks like it came straight out of a Dr. Seuss novel. A scenic overlook and pull-off as you drive through the park, the layers capture different decades cemented in the rock.
Hanging Lake – Colorado
One of the most unique waterfalls in the country, this brilliant turquoise travertine lake looks like it was magically inverted and suspended from the sky. It’s a short but steep hike up, but a quintessential Colorado natural experience.
White Sands National Park – New Mexico
Blindingly white as far as the eye can see, the neatly groomed gypsum dunes are one of the harshest environments on earth. Not only can you walk on the sand, but you can also sandboard, horseback ride, and even camp on the desert oasis.
Valley of Fire State Park – Nevada
Known for its fiery red sandstone cliffs and towering limestone formations, Valley of Fire is home to ancient petrified trees and petroglyphs. As Nevada’s oldest state park, it’s about 50 miles northeast of Las Vegas on the California border.
The Narrows – Utah
One of Utah’s bucket list hikes, The Narrows is the narrowest slot canyon in Zion. A hike through waist-deep water in the Virgin River, you can either do the trek bottom up or top down (permit required), but either way, the 16-miler is no joke. You don’t need to do the whole thing to get a feel for the experience, but the best views are about two hours in at an area affectionately known as “Wall Street.”
Nā Pali Coast State Wilderness Park – Hawaii
Kauai’s coast is a rainbow of towering sea cliffs (and what the name translates to) punctuated by valleys, streams, and waterfalls that overlook the Pacific Ocean. A rugged, 11-mile hike that’s not for the faint of heart, you can also explore Hawaii by boat or helicopter for the ultimate bucket list tour.
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