American cities usually steal the spotlight when it comes to tourism and travel. However, though America may be on the younger side of countries, there’s still plenty of natural beauty in the less populated areas. Thanks to the extensive efforts of the park services and conservasionists, these natural wonders are around for travel lovers to enjoy at some of the most scenic state and national parks America has to offer.
Mount Rainier, Washington
While this mountain has the most glaciated peak in the contiguous US, it’s actually an active volcano. Mount Rainier is literally spilling out life as six rivers are spawned from it. Day hiking around this beautiful mountain doesn’t require a permit, but any camping overnight will. However, these are easily obtainable from the park rangers in the summer. The Paradise and Sunrise centers in particular give you the best views of the Park. It’s a great place to travel to with family as the overall safety of the park is great.
About two hours away from the Grand Canyon lies the oft overlooked Sedona. There are plenty of tours given around the city (don’t be surprised if you see the popular pink jeeps roaming the street). Inside Sedona proper there’s a great uptown area with shops, restaurants, and art galleries to enjoy, and you’ll constantly get a view of the rocky mountains, hills, and plateaus surrounding you. Popular hikes include the Cathedral Rock Trail, Airport Mesa Loop, Bell Rock Pathway, and many more. Travel here for a lovely getaway.
Mackinac Island, Michigan
Mackinac is the quintessential American seaside town. With its pastel-colored downtown area and record-breaking Victorian-era buildings, Mackinac is a secret little slice of Americana. You can treat yourself to some delicious, famous fudge as you walk down the beautiful sandy beaches and bluffs. If you’re looking for different modes of transportation, you can try bicycling for a different travel perspective.
Denali Park, Alaska
While this park is open year-round most travel lovers come in the summer when the harsh Alaskan weather is a little easier and the buses become available. The wildlife is the best part of Denali. While of course there are mountain goats, Denali is best known for its huskies and mountain birds. There are plenty of fantastic opportunities for travel photography as the most popular activities are backpacking, hiking, and mountaineering.
Big Sur, California
California condors above and sea otters below will greet you at the Big Sur. This mountainous shore is one of the best and longest undeveloped coastlines in the contiguous US. In contrast to the crowded, busy beaches of the rest of the State, Big Sur is much quieter with more of a small-town feel to it. Big Sur has plenty of parks and beaches to travel around and even a marine sanctuary where visitors can interact with the environment safely and maybe even spot some dolphins!
Glacier National Park, Montana
Affectionately known as the “Crown of the Continent,” Glacier National Park holds many of the headwaters for rivers that flow all throughout the US. This park is perfect for anyone who loves the outdoors. Hiking, swimming, boating, biking, skiing, camping, it has it all. There are also plenty of educational tours including a Native America Speaks program where local tribe members come to share their knowledge and history. Glacier National Park is the perfect example of natural and cultural history intertwining – and one of the most stunning parks America has to offer.
Grand Teton, Wyoming
Ten miles south of Yellowstone lies Grand Teton. This is another great example of humans and nature interacting, as Grand Teton was home to many American frontier pioneers. There are over two hundred miles of trail to explore and travel lovers are even free to float down the Snake River in a raft. Of course, hiking, biking, and rock climbing opportunities are available as you scale the tallest mountain in the Teton range.
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
If you ever find yourself in the Portland area, consider travel plans to this must-see location. The Multnomah Falls have a Park Service run lodge where you can pick up a trail guide. Be sure to walk across the complementing Benson Bridge to get a gorgeous view of the falls as close as possible. The lodge and bridge are part of the architecture that was built to accentuate the natural beauty of these falls. There are plenty of places to bike, camp, and, of course, hike. Oregon has become a favorite of photographers and nature-lovers alike, the Multnomah Falls are the perfect locale to get just a taste of what this state has to offer.
Cades Cove, Tennessee
One of the few Eastern US locations on this list and very well deserved. Cades Cove is one of the most popular spots in the Great Smoky mountains. It’s a valley in the middle of the legendary range where you can appreciate just how magnificent the mountains are while in this beautiful creek. Biking and hiking are the most popular activities on this 11 mile trail, but be sure to get there before the big tourist rush in summer! If you’re just passing through, there’s a scenic drive route just for such an occasion. However, be sure to keep an eye out for deer, coyote, and bear, oh my!
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
The tallest dunes in North America, period. That by itself is a site to see. That’s not even mentioning the immense biodiversity with tundra, alpine lakes, wetlands, grasslands, and conifer forests. The Great Sand Dunes National Park has some of the most unique activities in the country with sand sledding and sandboarding. There’s also the gorgeous nighttime tour, where you can count the stars in the dark desert-like biome.
We hope you enjoy the stunning landscapes of the state and national parks America has on offer.