By Juliet Bennett Rylah
Arizona’s majestic Grand Canyon was carved out by the Colorado River over the course of millions of years. It is 277 miles (446 kilometers) long and up to 18 miles (30 kilometers) wide at certain points.
The Hubbard Glacier, found off the coast of Alaska, is the biggest tidewater glacier in North America. The National Park Service measures it at about 76 miles (122 kilometers) long, seven miles (11 kilometers) wide and 600 feet (183 meters) tall, though only some 350 feet (107 meters) are above water.
California’s Death Valley contains the Badwater Basin salt flats, which, at 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level, is the lowest elevation point in North America. During summer, temperatures in this scenic desert valley can rise over 120°F (48.9°C).
Avenue of the Giants
A scenic 31-mile (50-kilometer) drive down Highway 101 near Humboldt Redwoods State Park in Northern California is perhaps better known as the Avenue of the Giants, due to the number of towering Redwoods in the area.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park in Utah boasts over 2,000 distinct stone arches, crafted by nature. Red rock pinnacles and towers stand against gorgeous sunsets and star-filled skies.
The Carlsbad Caverns are limestone caverns beneath the surface of the Chihuahuan Desert in New Mexico, formed when sulfuric acid ate through the limestone.
Old Faithful is just one reason to check out Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. It is a cone geyser that erupts once about every 74 minutes, shooting water over 100 feet (30 meters) into the air.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, California boasts incredible coastal views. Of note is McWay Falls, a waterfall that flows 80 feet (24 meters) from McWay Creek into the Pacific Ocean.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is so named for the Joshua Tree. These unique trees dot the desert landscape, where guests come to hike, stargaze, and camp.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
There are five volcanoes at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Three are considered active, and one erupts regularly, allowing guests the rare opportunity to view flowing lava.
Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California have made several guest appearances in various sci-fi films and TV shows for their otherworldly appearance. A long, long time ago, sandstone rocks were lifted up, forming the unusual angles you see today.
Eternal Flame Falls
Located in Chestnut Ridge Park in New York, this waterfall features a grotto behind it that emits natural gas. When lit, a fire burns behind the cascading water.
Grand Prismatic Spring
Often overshadowed by Old Faithful, Yellowstone’s Grand Prismatic Hot Spring is equally spectacular. It’s 370 feet (113 meters) wide and boasts brightly colored rings around a blue center due to various species of heat-seeking bacteria living in the spring.
Found in the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area in Oregon, Thor’s Well is essentially a big hole in the shoreline, which may have been a sea cave before its roof collapsed. The water flows through the top and bottom in such a way that it appears to be an endless drain.
Sleeping Bear Dunes
Forests and sloping dunes butt up against Lake Michigan, offering sweeping views and multiple terrains to explore.
Delaware Water Gap
The Delaware River’s path through the Appalachian Mountains near the Pennsylvania/New Jersey state border offers a gorgeous scene flanked by lush forest.
Thousands of years ago, a volcano collapsed, with rain filling the hole. The result, known as Crater Lake, is the deepest lake in the United States.
The Florida Everglades offer subtropical sawgrass marshes and mangrove forests teeming with wildlife.
Mammoth Cave National Park
Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is the longest discovered cave system in the world. Over 400 miles (644 kilometers) of the limestone caves have been explored, some of which are available for tours.
Hamilton Pool Preserve, located in Texas, is tucked into a picturesque grotto. It features a 50-foot (15-meter) waterfall and plenty of plants and wildlife.
Alkali Flat Trail
The White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, as the name suggests, features pristine dunes of white gypsum sand. The Alkali Flat Trail is especially captivating for its unadulterated views.