Famous for things like Hollywood, New York City, and being an economic and military powerhouse, the United States is also home to some of the most remarkable natural wonders. If any, few countries can rival the USA in its diversity and natural features guaranteed to impress anyone.
Some of the most beautiful and impressive natural wonders of the World are located in the USA. They include powerful waterfalls, unique deserts, high mountains, volcanoes, canyons, lakes, and islands. In short, any natural and geographical wonders are located in the USA.
In this post about the natural wonders of the USA, we will only include the 50 states, thus excluding Puerto Rico and all the other territories. So, let’s explore the great American outdoors.
Natural Wonders in the USA – Utah
Great Salt Lake
Located in the Northern part of Utah, the Great Salt Lake is clearly one of the most famous things in Utah. It was on the shores of the lake that the Mormons first settled, founding salt lake city, the capital and biggest city in Utah. Metropolitan Salt Lake City has more than 1.2 million people.
With an average size of 1 700 sq miles, the Great Salt Lake is the biggest salt lake in the western hemisphere and the largest natural lake west of Mississippi. However, the water levels vary dramatically according to precipitation because of the lake’s low average depth of 16 feet (4.9 m).
The great salt lake is a terminal lake, so it doesn’t have an outlet besides evaporation. Jordan, Weber, and Bear rivers are the three main tributaries, bringing about 1 million tons of minerals annually. These minerals accumulate when the water evaporates, giving the lake a high salinity level, much higher than seawater.
The elevated density of the water makes swimming in the lake quite hard, but floating is easy and fun. It’s a similar experience to the Dead Sea in Israel and Jordan. Unfortunately, it is challenging to develop touristic infrastructures due to the continuous fluctuation of the water levels on the shore. Nevertheless, Bridger Bay Beach is maybe the most tempting beach on the entire lake, with two miles of wide white sand.
The Great Salt Lake is a remnant of the much large ice-age Lake Bonneville, which occupied a large portion of Northwest Utah. With the end of the Ice Age, Lake Bonneville receded gradually until becoming today’s Great Salt Lake.
Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah
By Jamie from Photo Jeepers
Easily one of the coolest natural wonders of the United States, Delicate Arch quietly sits in Arches National Park in Utah and is a stunning, natural arch that stands at a mesmerizing 52 feet tall.
Drive about 35 minutes along US-191 N to Arches National Park to get here from Moab. From the associated parking lot, you’ll then need to do a fairly easy out-and-back hike that features 629 feet of elevation gain and is 3.2 miles long. In total, though, this hike should only take between an hour and an hour and a half to complete.
You’ll also need to pay $30.00 per day to enter the park with a private vehicle or $15.00 per day if you want to enter as an individual.
Plus, try to get here at least 30 minutes before sunset for the best views. Just bring a headlight since it will be really dark, and try to arrive early to steer clear of the crowds and enjoy one of the best Arches National Park photo spots before sunrise.
You can also try shooting this natural wonder straight on or from a unique perspective through Frame Arch or from the bowl to the west.
Bryce Canyon, Utah
James Ian from Parks Collecting
Bryce Canyon is home to the largest concentration of hoodoos in the world. Hoodoos are free-standing sandstone pillars. They are formed by erosion caused by constant freezing and unfreezing over thousands of years, and there are thousands of them, in brilliant pink, white, and orange colors, crowding the canyon.
The showpiece is Bryce Amphitheater, a large bowl-shaped natural arena with the most hoodoos. You can admire them from several viewpoints along the rim or venture down below it and hike among the hoodoos.
The most famous trail is the Queen’s Garden – Navajo Loop Trail, which descends to a large hoodoo named after Queen Victoria, which bears a remote resemblance too. Another famous hoodoo is Thor’s Hammer, seen on the way back up to the rim.
More hoodoos are found along the 18-mile Southern Scenic Drive that runs along the length of most of the canyon. The youngest hoodoos in the park are found at the aptly-named Fairyland Point, where another hike takes you down into the canyon.
Bryce Canyon is not a UNESCO site but is a designated National Park. It’s located in southern Utah and is a 4-hour and 15-minute drive from Las Vegas, Nevada, to the south or Salt Lake City to the north.
Monument Valley, Utah
By Chris Heckmann from Around The World With Me
At the border of Utah and Arizona lies one of the most fascinating landscapes on the planet. Monument Valley is a barren desert floor with massive sandstone rock buttes protruding from it in irregular patterns. These buttes – made famous in old western movies but possibly most famous by Forest Gump – rise up to 1000 feet above the ground below, unmatched by anything else in the world.
Base yourself along highway 163 at the border of the two states. There’s a little town called Oljato-Monument Valley that isn’t much more than a shop and a few places to stay. The entire region is located in Navajo Nation. While technically part of Arizona and Utah, Navajo Nation enjoys self-governing rights. This area is sacred to the Navajo people, and their laws and customs should be respected while on their land.
Visiting Monument Valley takes a bit of effort, as it’s really in the middle of nowhere and requires your own vehicle to get there. The nearest major airport is Phoenix, about 5 hours away.
The general area is open and free to drive through. However, the best views and buttes are found in Monument Valley Tribal Park, which Navajo Nation maintains. Inside the park, there’s a 17-mile scenic drive and numerous hikes to get up close and personal with the giant rock formations.
The main sights can be seen in one day. For a more intimate experience, watch the sunrise over the red desert floor for a few nights. No road trip through the American Southwest is complete without a stop in Monument Valley!
Zion National Park, Utah
By David from The World Travel Guy
The scenic Zion National Park in Utah has some of the most impressive canyons in the United States. This natural wonder is located in south Utah, 160 miles from Las Vegas or 300 miles from Salt Lake City.
You can fly to St. George airport (45 miles from the park) or Cedar City Airport (60 miles from the park), although more flight options are going to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City.
There are many amazing sights and hikes to do in Zion National Park, with difficulties ranging from easy to extreme. There’s something good for every age and fitness level in this park.
A hidden gem in this national park is the Observation Point Zion hike. Most people visiting Zion want to do the Angels Landing hike or The Narrows, which are amazing ‘bucket list’ hikes, but the scenery on the Observation Point trail is just as impressive and much less crowded.
The Observation Point hike is currently open as of 2022, although the only way to access it is via the East Mesa Trail to Observation Point, which is a relatively short and easy hike – suitable for families.
Ultimately, you get stunning views of many of Zion’s best sights, like the Great White Throne, Cathedral Mountain, and Angels Landing.
If you want to learn more about the Natural wonders and Landmarks in Utah
Natural wonders in USA – Arizona
The Grand Canyon is the most famous of the landmarks in Arizona. It is easily one of the most famous natural wonders of the USA and the world. As the name implies, the Grand Canyon is massive. It’s among the most extensive canyons globally, but it’s not only the immense dimensions that attract visitors, it’s also the stunning surroundings with layers of different colored rocks. Sunsets and sunrises give the Grand Canyon a whole other beauty.
Encompassing 277 miles (446 km) of the Colorado River and adjacent uplands, the Grand Canyon is a steep-sided canyon up to 18 miles (29 km) wide and a depth of 6,093 feet (or 1,857 meters).
Scientists estimate that it took about 5 to 6 million years for the Colorado River (and its tributaries) to expose about two billion years of Earth’s geological history cutting through layers of colored rocks, some of which are recognized among the oldest exposed rocks on earth.
The Grand Canyon has been a national park since 1919 and became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. With roughly 6 million visitors yearly, it is the USA’s second most popular national park. When the weather allows, the south rim is open year-round, while the north rim is usually open only from May to October.
By Monica from This Rare Earth
The Mojave Desert spans across portions of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Utah in the Southwestern United States. Taking up roughly 20 million acres of land, the Mojave Desert is home to unique flora, fauna, and geology not found anywhere else.
The Mojave Desert is situated just south of the Great Basin Desert and north of the Sonoran desert, with the tall Sierra Nevada Mountain range to the west. This desert also sits at a specific elevation of 2,000 to 5,000 feet. This special range creates the perfect environment for species like the Joshua Tree and the desert pupfish.
Some incredible highlights within the Mojave Desert are Badwater Basin – a salt flat within Death Valley that is the lowest point in all of North America – and the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave National Preserve, famous for the “barking” sound they make in the quiet desert. There are also underground lava tubes, palm-covered oases, and giant boulders, to name a few other sights.
Visitors must hike out into the desert to see many of the highlights. If you have never hiked the desert before, be sure to pack your desert essentials to stay safe and cool. If possible, consider camping overnight to see some of the best stargazing in the entire USA.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
By Milijana from World Travel Connector
The Antelope Canyon in Arizona is a top US natural wonder, which turned it into one of the most popular natural attractions in the US. Its popularity and astonishing setting made it one of the most photographed canyons on Earth.
Antelope Canyon is an impressive slot canyon created by land erosion. This famous canyon has two sections: Lower Antelope Canyon and Upper Antelope Canyon. Both canyons are equally fascinating, but Upper Antelope Canyon is more popular since jaw-dropping light beams happen more frequently there. It is also easier to access it (unlike Lower Antelope Canyon, there are no ladders and stairs).
Antelope Canyon is on the Navajo people’s land in Arizona. Visitors must get an Antelope Canyon permit (8US$) to enter the Navajo land. You can not tour the canyon independently but only by guided tours (exclusively run by Navajo Native Americans). An Antelope Canyon tour lasts about 1 hour and a half on average.
Antelope Canyon is a 15 min drive from the town of Page. The canyon is also close to Horseshoe Bend and Lake Powel in Arizona. Horseshoe Bend to Antelope Canyon is a 15-min drive. Page Municipal Airport is the nearest airport to Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, and Lake Powel. The most popular months for visiting Antelope Canyon are June, July, and August.
Natural Wonders USA – New England
Acadia National Park, Maine
By Emily Cuneo from Emily Embarks
Beautifully nestled on Maine’s secluded Desert Island along its eastern coast, Acadia National Park is one of the most incredible natural wonders in the U.S. It is often recognized for its unique wildlife spotting opportunities, gorgeous Jordan Pond, and endless hiking trails – this park is truly a nature lover’s paradise!
To get there, visitors can either choose to fly into Boston Logan International Airport and rent a car to drive 4.5 hours along Massachusetts’ 95 North, or if there is a little more room in your budget, you can fly into the Portland Maine International Jetport and drive just under 3 hours to reach the park. A rental car is highly recommended as it will provide you with the most freedom to see the park.
Acadia National Park is a natural wonder due to its endless beautiful scenery, from its Bubble Peaks and Eagle Lake to its 45 miles of carriage roads and Sand Beach. It’s easy to see why visitors travel from around the globe to witness a sunset over Frenchman’s Bay and enjoy a bowl of New England clam chowder in Bar Harbor!
It is one of the last untouched pieces of New England and boasts diverse terrain, dense forestry, teems of wildlife, and crystal-clear ponds and lakes throughout its 48,000 acres. If you plan to visit in the summer, it’s good to learn a few useful French phrases since much of the local population speaks French as a first or second language.
Purgatory Chasm, Massachusetts
By Shobha George from Martha’s Vineyard Tourist
Purgatory Chasm is a Massachusetts state park that is a geologic formation in Sutton, Massachusetts, in the Blackstone Valley. The state park lies near the city of Worcester and about an hour’s drive west of Boston.
Although no one quite knows how Purgatory Chasm was formed, theories suggest that it was formed by melting water from a mile-high glacier rushing through the area during the last Ice Age about 14,000 years ago. Native Americans have a legend that the deep cuts were made by the tomahawk cuts of a Native American god who kidnapped an Algonquin woman.
The gorge is only 1.4 miles long and 70 feet deep, made of granite bedrock. It’s full of crevices, caves, and cliffs. The rock formations have cool names like Lover’s Leap, Devil’s Pulpit, and Fat Man’s Misery (a narrow slit of rock that people have to squeeze through). There is also a little Purgatory Brook at the end of the gorge, which leads to a little waterfall.
There is a fee for admission to Purgatory Chasm and ample parking, which attests to its popularity with hikers and rock climbers. It is not suggested you visit the gorge at Purgatory Chasm during bad weather because the rocks can get really slippery. The gorge is also closed in the winter for the same reason.
Natural Wonders in the United States – Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park
By Meg from Fox in the Forest
Without a doubt, one of the best natural wonders in the US is Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
Not only does this amazing 415 square-mile park cover vast expanses of stunning mountains, awesome forests, and incredible alpine tundra, but it’s a place that is also home to some of the most scenic drives in the state.
So, use the iconic Trail Ridge Road to enjoy the scenery, visit the highest visitor center in the country, and stop at Forest Canyon Overlook.
This way, you can take in stellar views of Longs Peak, the park’s tallest mountain.
Alternatively, you could use the Keyhole Route to traverse vertical rock faces and climb to the summit of this amazing place.
You can also cross the Continental Divide and conquer iconic hikes to Bear Lake, Chasm Lake, and Alberta Falls as you enjoy some of the best things to do in Rocky Mountain National Park.
However, because this park receives 4.4 million visitors annually and is one of the country’s top five most visited parks, try to arrive at many of the most popular trailheads before sunrise.
You are also required to reserve a permit in advance for $25 per car and can obtain one that does or does not include access to the Bear Lake Road corridor.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
By Caitlin Dismore from Twin Family Travels
Great Sand Dunes National Park, nestled in the San Luis Valley, showcases the tallest dunes in North America. Naturally, it’s one of the most famous landmarks in Colorado. As you drive to the park, the dunes look small and unimpressive compared to the snow-capped mountains in the background. But, you quickly understand the magnitude of the dune field once you get closer.
The dunes encompass 30 square miles. Two dunes are tied for the title “Tallest Dune in North America.” Star Dune and Hidden Dune both measure 741 feet.
The Great Sand Dunes, considered a geologic wonder, formed over thousands of years. Mountain streams brought down sediment, and high winds blew the sand into dunes against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The Great Sand Dunes are still changing today.
Medano Creek, a popular spring attraction, does more than entertain visitors. Along with Sand Creek, the creeks help recycle the sand to be blown back onto the dune field. Great Sand Dunes National Park is located in southern Colorado. It is about 230 miles southwest of Denver and 165 miles from Colorado Springs. The closest town to the park with amenities is Alamosa.
For more things to do in the area, check out this Colorado Road Trip Itinerary.
USA Natural Wonders – New Mexico
White Sands National Park
By Catherine Xu from Nomadicated
Sitting in the Tularosa Basin of Southern New Mexico, White Sands National Park holds the title of the world’s largest white gypsum dune field. One of America’s most recent National Parks, White Sands, may be relatively small but packs a punch in terms of sheer beauty and uniqueness.
The dazzling dunes of White Sands National Park are comprised not of sand but white gypsum. Shifting with the wind, the gypsum gathers to form the rolling dunes that make this park one of the most famous landmarks in New Mexico.
Set in remote southern New Mexico, the nearest city, Las Cruces, is a 50-minute drive away. The dunes become apparent only after turning into the park, past the visitor center.
The White Sands National Park Visitor Center offers a small exhibit, daily sunset strolls, and sleds to slide down the dunes. Drive the entirety of Dunes Drive, marveling at the unique flora on the way. At the end of the loop, traverse several hills and valleys to find undisturbed landscapes.
White Sands National Park is a photographer’s paradise. The ever-changing colors of the dunes dramatically transform with the sun’s position. Make sure to stay through the sunset to bask in the color transition from white, to golden, to pink, to blue before hiking back to civilization.
The Carlsbad Caverns are one of the natural wonders of America. Located approximately 18 miles southwest of Carlsbad, New Mexico, the Caverns include the enormous limestone chamber named the Big Room. This room is almost 4,000 feet (1,220 m) long, 625 feet (191 m) wide, and at its highest point, 255 feet (78 m) high. The Big Room is the largest chamber in North America but “only” the thirty-first largest in the world.
Established in 1923 to preserve the more than 100 known caves, the Carlsbad Caverns Nation Park includes several other famous caves like Lechuguilla Cave, which is the nation’s deepest limestone cave at 1,567 feet (478m) and the fourth longest. About two-thirds of the national park is considered a wilderness area to help preserve the habitat.
Access to the Carlsbad Caverns is easy. Visitors can hike in on their own via the natural entrance or take an elevator from the visitor center. Despite being possible to run the tour in 90 minutes, you should set aside about 2.5 hours to have a nicer and calmer experience. Note that the interior of the caves has a steady temperature of about 55ºF, even when it’s much warmer outside. So, we recommend you bring a warm jacket.
One of the park’s most interesting attractions is the evening flight of the Mexican free-tailed bats. The Carlsbad colony is made of primarily females who give birth to their young between June and July before migrating south in October.
Click here to check out the other famous landmarks in New Mexico
Natural Wonders in the United States – Hawaii
Na Pali Coast, Kauai, Hawaii
By Samantha from Continuous Roamer
There are many natural wonders on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, but the Na Pali Coast is one of the most spectacular landmarks in Hawaii. The Na Pali Coast, meaning cliffs in Hawaiian, was formed over millions of years by volcanic eruptions and erosion. A combination of the North Shore’s strong winter waves, landslides, trade winds, and steady streams continues to form the unique shape of the cliffs we see today.
There are four options to see the somewhat inaccessible Na Pali Coast. You can drive to the majestic Koke’e State Park. This park’s two lookout points afford you an impressive view over the Na Pali Coast: Kalalau Lookout and Pu’u O Kila Lookout.
The second option is to take a helicopter tour over the island of Kauai. You need optimal flying conditions for a helicopter tour to see the Na Pali Coast, so make sure you leave enough time in your Kauai itinerary to reschedule it if required.
The third way to see the Na Pali Coast is by a boat tour that will take you along the coast and show you a unique view of the valley from the water.
Finally, you can see this Hawaiian natural wonder by hiking along the famous Kalalau Trail. The whole trail is 11 miles and requires several nights of camping to complete the grueling hike. Alternatively, you can hike the first 2 miles to get the best views of the Na Pali Coast.
Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
By Sarah Vanheel from Cosmopoliclan
Hawaii’s natural abundance results in the most mesmerizing landscapes, ranging from colored beaches over steep canyons to verdant valleys and snorkeling sites teeming with fish. But their biggest natural wonder can be found on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve and home to Mauna Loa, the world’s largest volcano, and Kilauea, which has erupted on more than one occasion in recent years. These two active shield volcanoes create a spectacular dynamic landscape dotted with various craters, steaming vents, sulfur banks, and lava tubes.
Some of the park’s most popular attractions include driving the Crater Rim or Chain of Craters road, watching the lava flows, hiking the Kilauea Iki trail to step foot inside a crater, watching the Puʻuloa Petroglyphs, visiting the Thurston Lava Tube and watching the lava glow from the Devastation Trail overlook at night.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is located on the south side of the island. It’s a 45-minute drive from downtown Hilo, which is a convenient and affordable place to stay on the Big Island for outdoor enthusiasts. However, if you plan to visit for more than one day, you might consider staying in Volcano Village, located right next to the park entrance.
Mt. Haleakala, Hawaii
By Sam Opp from Find Love & Travel
Located in the upcountry of Maui, Hawaii, the beautiful Mt. Haleakala National Park is a must on any Maui itinerary! This natural wonder is a dormant volcano with an elevation summit of over 10,000 feet! Known as the house of the Sun by Hawaiians, this is also considered a sacred place.
The otherworldly landscape of the Haleakala Crater and the summit is one of the main attractions for visitors. The sunrise and sunset atop the summit are an incredible sight to witness. If you plan on seeing the sunrise or sunset, making a reservation beforehand online is essential. Without one, you will not be able to enter the park.
Mt. Haleakala National Park is also connected to the famous Road to Hana; therefore, many make their way into the National park on this route. The national park has over 30,000 acres of lush jungles, beaches, waterfalls, hiking trails, and a mars-like landscape at the summit.
The best way to get to this natural wonder is by renting a car and driving. Many tours go through Mount Haleakala National Park if you prefer being guided.
Wonders of the USA in Montana and Wyoming
Glacier National Park, Montana
By Anwar from Beyond my Door
Glacier National Park is one of the most beautiful places in America, one of the crown jewels of the National Park System. Established in 1910, the park protects the stunning glacier-carved mountains of Northern Montana as well as several year-round glaciers that occupy the park.
In 1932 Canadian Waterton Lakes National Park was combined with Glacier NP to form the world’s first peace park (Waterton Glacier International Peace Park). The combination of these parks protects an incredibly diverse ecosystem rich in flora and fauna. Due to this, the peace park was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995.
Highlights of the park are its diverse wildlife, such as grizzly bears, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, moose, and elk. The Highline trail that begins near the continental divide in Logan Pass is a must-do hike giving visitors views of a glacier, alpine ecosystems, and a high likelihood of wildlife sightings.
Glacier National Park is located in northwest Montana on the border of Alberta, Canada. Getting to the Glacier NP is possible by air, train, or car. Amtrak services Glacier from two stations on either end of the park, and the nearest airport is in Kalispell, Montana.
Yellowstone National Park
By Candice from CS Ginger
One of the most impressive US natural wonders is Yellowstone National Park. It is a massive National Park spreading through Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
Yellowstone was the first national park in the world and is home to more than 10,000 hydrothermal features ranging from the famous Old Faithful Geyser to smaller mud pots and hot springs. There are 500 active geysers in the park which accounts for more than half of the geysers in the world.
Along with the geothermal features, there is an abundance of wildlife. It is home to grizzly bears, wolves, black bears, moose, elk, and bison. Yellowstone is a great vacation destination whether you’re traveling solo or on a family vacation.
Yellowstone is in the western United States. Most of the park is in Wyoming, but parts of the park do cross the state border into Idaho and Montana. A small regional airport in West Yellowstone is just minutes from the park. The closest international airports are Bozeman, Jackson Hole, and Salt Lake City.
Reservations inside the park can book out a year in advance, so making reservations as early as possible is a good idea. If you do not stay in the park, West Yellowstone and Gardiner are two great cities nearby.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
By Michelle Stelly from The Wandering Queen
One of the best places to visit in the United States is Grand Tetons National Park. This national park is an outstanding American natural wonder. It is filled with mountains, lakes, rivers, and amazing viewpoints. It is also located near the even more famous Yellowstone National Park (only 50 minutes away). Grand Teton is located in Wyoming, and it is best to fly into Jackson Hole Airport to get to the park.
It is a natural wonder because of the magnificent mountain range, which includes mountains like Mt Woodring, Mt St John, Mt Owen, and much more. Many peaks exceed 12,000 feet, and Grand Teton is the highest point. There are also many gorgeous lakes with mountain views, like Delta Lake, Jenny Lake, Leigh Lake, Taggart Lake, and Blacktail Ponds.
There are also waterfalls like Hidden Falls and places to go swimming, white water rafting, and kayaking. There are many places to watch sunrises, like Mormon Row, Oxbow Bend, Chapel of the Transfiguration, and Schwabacher Landing. You can spot wildlife in many park areas, but the best place to see them is on Moose-Wilson Road. There is a high chance of spotting moose on Moose Wilson Road.
Natural Wonders in the US – California
Yosemite National Park
By Agnes from The Van Escape
Yosemite National Park is located on the western slope of the central Sierra Nevada in California and preserves an area of outstanding scenic beauty and wilderness value. It is located just 190 miles east of San Francisco. The easiest way to get to the Park is by car, public transportation from SF, or an organized tour.
Yosemite National Park is a natural wonder because it was carved into the earth by the movement of massive glaciers. This created some unique topographical features you will not find anywhere else, including five of the highest waterfalls on earth.
You can see towering granite domes, huge waterfalls, and ancient groves of Giant Sequoias. The park is home to El Capitan, the largest granite monolith in North America. Yosemite Falls, which plunges 4,425 feet (739 m), is the highest waterfall in North America. Also, Half Dome is one of the most famous mountains in the world.
Yosemite National Park, one of the ecological treasures of the United States, was officially added to the World Heritage List UNESCO in 1984. Yosemite’s natural beauty and diversity are of great scientific and cultural importance and deserve special protection.
In addition, Yosemite is the sacred home of the ancestors of several traditionally associated Indian tribes and groups. The landscape reflects generations of Native American land management and is a testament to the profound ecological, cultural, and spiritual ties that Native Americans have to the area.
Death Valley National Park
By Krisztina Harsanyi from She Wanders Abroad
Death Valley National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the United States and one of the most famous landmarks in California.
The park is located in Eastern California, right next to the border of Nevada. It is home to a variety of different landscapes, including the Mojave Desert, which is the largest desert in North America.
Death Valley National Park is known for its extreme temperatures, reaching up to 134 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer months. The park also holds the record for the lowest point in the United States, at -282 feet below sea level.
Death Valley National Park is home to various plants and animal life despite its hostile environment. Visitors to the park can see bighorn sheep, coyotes, and even the endangered desert tortoise.
Since the park has a large variety of different landscapes, there are several different activities that visitors can enjoy. There are plenty of hiking and camping opportunities and opportunities to stargaze and participate in ranger-led programs.
It’s best to visit Death Valley with a car, but you can find plenty of tour companies that offer day trips from Las Vegas if you’re not comfortable driving.
If you’re looking to experience one of the most unique and dramatic landscapes in the United States, spending at least one day in Death Valley National Park is a must.
Located in the Sierra Nevada, between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine lake in North America, lying at 6 225 ft (1,897 m). With a depth of 1 645 ft (501 m), it is also the second deepest lake in the USA, only behind Crater Lake in Oregon (mentioned below in this list).
Lake Tahoe is a prominent natural landmark in Nevada and California and a popular year-round destination. It is popular both as a winter sports destination with snow and ski resorts and an outdoor recreation area in Summer with crystal clear waters and sandy beaches. Nevada’s side also offers lakeside casino resorts, as one would expect.
Click here to check out the other famous landmarks in California!
There are dozens of public access beaches in Lake Tahoe, but the most popular is Sand Harbor. It was white sand, near-perfect translucent water, and lovely granite rock formations. It’s a perfect destination for swimming, kayaking, SUPing, and even scuba diving.
There are several ski resorts around Lake Tahoe, but the most popular and the largest is Heavenly Mountain Resort, located near the California/Nevada Stateline on the south shore. People from all over California, Nevada, and other states travel to Lake Tahoe during winter to enjoy the snow, the resorts, the perfect setting, and everything else.
Natural Wonders in America – Florida
Dry Tortugas National Park
By Erin Moreland from Super Simple Salty Life
Dry Tortugas National Park sits in a breathtakingly beautiful landscape in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico, 70 miles off of the coast of Key West, Florida. You may have seen photos taken here of an open-air window made from bright orange bricks looking out onto miles of turquoise blue water as far as the eye can see.
This UNESCO park preserves seven islands or “keys,” which include Fort Jefferson, coral reefs, endangered migratory birds, and unique tropical ecosystems. You may not know that this location was vital to US history!
Fort Jefferson on Garden Key was built in the 1800s as a southern coastline defense system for the United States to preserve the ability to carry goods around the coast by sea. It is a huge hexagonal structure made from 16 million handmade bricks, and visitors to the Dry Tortugas are welcome to explore the fort on land and snorkel and swim around the moats in the clear blue waters. It is one of the most famous landmarks in Florida.
The Dry Tortugas cover 100 square miles of ocean, and 99 percent are actually underwater. Because of the extremely remote location, the only way to visit is by boat or seaplane. The ferry to the Dry Tortugas is the only authorized tour operator traveling to the national park, providing day trips on an air-conditioned state-of-the-art catamaran to the park directly from Key West.
Everglades National Park
By Erin Moreland from Super Simple Salty Life
Everglades National Park sits at the southern tip of Florida, just south of Miami and Naples. It is the third-largest national park in the continental United States and is part of the UNESCO Everglades & Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve.
Covering 1.5 million acres of tropical wetlands, the Everglades protects many threatened or endangered species, including American crocodiles and alligators, West Indian manatee, leatherback turtles, and the Florida panther.
The Everglades is known as the “River of Grass” and contains several distinct fresh and saltwater ecosystems, such as hardwood hammocks, cypress wetlands, pine forests, and mangrove-lined rivers. Because the park is so vast, the best itinerary for exploring the Everglades is to plan several days to visit each different area.
You need a vehicle to see all the park areas as no shuttles are touring the park, and the closest airport is in Miami. Many boardwalk trails meander throughout the park, as well as guided boat tours and bicycle, kayak, and canoe rentals. Because of the elusive animals and critical ecosystems the park protects, the Everglades National Park is an American natural wonder you must visit!
American Natural Wonders – Other states
Niagara Falls, New York
Niagara Falls are one of the most famous natural wonders in the USA, so it is not surprising it made the list. Though, some people may not realize that they are still part of New York state, as they are on the NY state border with Ontario, Canada.
Famed for its magnificence and size, the Niagara River creates the falls, draining water from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario. With a vertical fall of 167 ft (51 m), they have a combined flow rate of 85,000 cu ft/s (2,400 m3/s), making the most powerful in North America by flow rate.
Niagara Falls consists of 3 waterfalls at the southern end of Niagara Gorge. Horseshoe Falls are the largest and are located on the Canadian side of the border, while the smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are within New York State.
It is advisable to see the falls from both sides to have a comprehensive view and experience. While the Canadian side is usually praised as the best because of its proportions, it is also much more commercialized. The American side is within the oldest state park in the country, creating a more natural experience, which you would expect when visiting a waterfall.
Visiting the Niagara Falls state park to experience this natural wonder is free and open 365 days of the year. You can walk around the 400 acres of lush terrain and find several activities and attractions. The tours and activities are (obviously) mostly paid for. You can go behind de falls, go on a walking tour, navigate the falls on the Maid of the Mist boat, and much more.
Niagara Falls are the most famous natural landmark in New York, but there are many others. Have a look at the 30 most famous landmarks in New York.
Crater Lake, Oregon
By Kenny from Knycx Journeying
Located in south-central Oregon, Crater Lake is a volcanic crater lake in the Crater Lake National Park. It is a beloved hiking and holiday outing destination among the locals because of its clear, deep, intensely blue waters and breathtaking sceneries.
The best way to enter the park is by self-driving. Take Highway 58 to Highway 97 from the nearest city, Eugene or Portland. Then turn west on Highway 138 to the park’s North Entrance. The lake was formed when Mount Mazama collapsed after a volcano eruption thousands of years ago.
The lake is a natural wonder because it’s the deepest lake in America; it is also known for its distinct blue color – given that the lake has no inlets or other water sources, the lake’s water is accumulated from snow and rain.
In fact, many exciting activities are available at Crater Lake around the year. The park is also a great place for active travelers to go hiking and fishing. Go zip-lining at Klamath Falls to enjoy a view of Upper Klamath Lake from a different perspective. Explore a camping experience at one of the wonderful campsites near Crater Lake. The park offers different options, from glamping to car camping.
Denali National Park, Alaska
By Paula from Paula Pins the Planet
Denali National Park in Alaska is one of the most remarkable Natural Wonders in the USA and the most famous landmark in Alaska. It is not only the largest National Park in the country, but here you can also find the tallest mountain in North America, Mt. McKinley, with a peak that reaches 20,310 feet above sea level.
Denali is a natural wonder with so much to offer. Whether you’re hiking, biking, camping, rafting, fishing, wildlife viewing, or flightseeing, Denali National Park and Preserve was granted membership into UNESCO’s rather elite club in 1976 due to its geological history, contrasting ecosystems, diverse plant life, and abundant wildlife. Here you can find bears, moose, caribou, foxes, and even the occasional wolf can be spotted from the park road, making the experience even more special.
Most visitors add a Denali to their Alaska road trip itinerary, as it is easier to visit the park if you have your own car. Denali is located about 6 hours from Anchorage by car and 8 hours by the Alaska Railroad. If you visit Denali from Fairbanks, it’s just 3 hours by car and 4 hours by train.
Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
By Ashley Rice from Ashely on the Move
Located about 45 minutes outside Asheville, NC, you’ll find Triple Falls Trail in Dupont State Forest. Triple Falls Trail is one of the most popular trails to explore in Dupont, but don’t let that deter you! While it gets crowded, the trail is wide and maintained well, so it’s still delightful no matter how many hiking friends you pass.
The best part? You pass not one, not two, but THREE waterfalls on your way along Triple Falls Trail. The falls are absolutely gorgeous, and all three have perfect spots to sit and enjoy a picnic. Two of the falls, Hooker Falls and Triple Falls, were used in filming The Hunger Games!
The trail makes a complete loop from the Hooker Falls parking lot. Many signs will lead you to Hooker Falls first, but if you want to make it less strenuous, follow the Holly Trail, cross the highway, and head towards the High Falls trail. This will have you going downhill as you hike back toward your car, passing Triple Falls and High Falls on your way!
This hike covers around 3 miles and will take about an hour or so, depending on how often you stop to enjoy the view. It is dog friendly (I always love a dog-friendly hike!), and there is abundant parking. Choose from the Hooker Falls lot mentioned above, or park at the Visitors Center!
Natural Bridge, Virginia
By Erin Gifford from Go Hike Virginia
Located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, Natural Bridge is the centerpiece of Natural Bridge State Park. This spectacular 215-foot-tall limestone arch inspires all who pass under by way of the one-mile Cedar Creek Trail that leads to tumbling Lace Falls. Over many years, burbling Cedar Creek carved out the impressive arch.
Once owned by Thomas Jefferson, Natural Bridge has held a spot on the National Register of Historic Places since 1997. A stroll under the bridge holds a surprise, too. George Washington carved his initials on the arch in 1750.
While Natural Bridge is the main attraction, many visitors come to step foot on family-friendly trails, like the Buck Hill Trail and the Skyline Trail. These forested trails are a short drive from the park’s visitor center.
This dark sky park hosts stargazing programs aligned with astronomical events for budding astronomers, like meteor showers, lunar eclipses, and new moons. There is a hands-on children’s discovery area with a natural play space for kids.
Natural Bridge is a two-hour drive from Richmond, Virginia, or a three-hour drive from Washington, DC. Make it a day trip or stay the night at the elegant Natural Bridge Historic Hotel across the street from the state park.
Apostle Islands, Wisconsin
By Paulina from Paulina on the Road
Apostle Islands have red sandstone sea caves, vibrant greenery, freshwaters, and even more. Situated in Bayfield County in Wisconsin, Apostle Islands give you an unforgettable experience with breathtaking views.
You can easily reach Bayfield by a 6-hour drive from Milwaukee. After reaching there, Apostle Islands are accessible via a car ferry.
While there are 22 Apostle Islands, only 21 islands make the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. They are natural wonders because you can explore incredible landscapes and a fantastic rock cliff coastline. Moreover, Apostle Islands are known to be the best place in America for kayaking. So much so that it attracts a few of the best kayakers in America.
Not only the waters but the mainland of the county is worth exploring. You can enjoy the most amusing hiking trails and witness unique sea caves from close. Travelers looking for a relaxing vacation can enjoy some wonderful swimming beaches in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Apart from kayaking, hiking, and exploring the beaches, there are several other things to do in Apostle Islands. Do not miss out on camping on the islands, enjoying the Apostle Islands cruise, renting a lodging cabin, going sailing, and more.
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
By Claire from Claire Pins Travel
Badlands National Park in South Dakota is truly an American natural wonder and is well known for its rock formations, fossils, stargazing, and a large variety of wildlife. The highlight for most visitors is the distinctive pinnacles, buttes, and canyons of the rock formations rising above the prairie landscape. Over thousands of years, erosion formed these, and the colorful layers of exposed rock create an otherworldly effect.
Various ancient fossils have also been found in the park, and replicas are found along the Fossil Exhibit Trail. Many animals make the park their home, such as bighorn sheep, prairie dogs, bison, elk, deer, and grassland species of birds. The park is also remote enough to have dark skies that are ideal for astronomy enthusiasts and stargazers.
While this National Park is not a UNESCO site, it is a must-see attraction in South Dakota and a popular stop on a road trip through the western states. It is located in the southwestern part of South Dakota, about a 55-mile or 1-hour drive from Rapid City, which is also home to the nearest airport. Most visitors arrive by car and drive the Badlands Loop Road, which offers several scenic overlooks to view the rock formations.
Mount Rainier, Washington
By Jessica Schmit from Uprooted Traveler
Mount Rainier, towering at 14.411 feet tall, is the highest mountain in the Cascade Mountain range – and is an active stratovolcano. In fact, due to the high likelihood of Rainier erupting in the near future, it’s also considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world!
But don’t let that deter you from visiting this natural wonder- the mountain is a boundless outdoor adventure playground, with its fields of technicolor wildflowers, enormous glaciers, and abundant wildlife.
Located just 59 miles southeast or a two-hour drive from Seattle, Washington, Rainier is also home to one of the most visited national parks in the country, with over 260 miles of hiking trails, endless backpacking options, and stunning scenic overlooks.
If you’re looking for one of the best trails in the park, visit the Skyline Trail, a 5.5-mile loop that will bring you face-to-face with the gargantuan mountain, with stunning vistas of its glaciers and the surrounding Cascade Mountains (plus- you’ll have a good chance of spotting a mountain goat!).
Want something with a bit lower impact? Consider driving along the Chinook Scenic Byway, a 107-mile scenic drive that winds through both Mount Rainier National Park and Mount Baker- Snoqualmie National Forest, past waterfalls, rushing rivers, and some of the most epic Pacific Northwest scenery.
Whether you want to reach the summit of this massive mountain or simply take in its stunning views, Mount Rainier is a not-to-be-missed natural wonder in the US.
Great Falls of the Passaic River, New Jersey
The Great Falls of the Passaic River is one of the most famous landmarks in New Jersey. With 77 feet high and 260 feet wide and more than 2 billion gallons of water rushing daily, the great falls are the second-largest waterfall by volume east of Mississippi. Only Niagara Falls are larger.
Carved by glaciers that receded at the end of the last Ice Age, about 13 000 years ago, the Great Falls are a captivating natural landmark in New Jersey. Though, what really is fascinating is that the location is also a historic landmark, protected since 2009 as part of the Paterson Great Falls National Historical Park.
The city of Paterson was founded by Alexander Hamilton, who visited the falls with George Washington during the American revolution. Later in 1791, he returned to the area to plan Paterson, America’s first
industrial city Paterson.
Paterson was established around the Great Falls, and from the humble mills rose industries, it became an important center of early American industry. The industry in Paterson was diverse and included many American firsts: a water-powered cotton spinning mill (1793), continuous roll paper (1812), Colt revolver (1837), Roger’s Locomotive (1837), and the Holland Submarine (1878).
You can see the falls from Haines overlook park (on the south) and Mary Ellen Kramer Park (on the north). It is also possible to drive-by view from Mc Bride Avenue, as it crosses the river just above the falls. There’s also a footbridge over the falls gorge, which is an excellent lookout.
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