19 Lesser-Known Natural Wonders That Rival Our Country’s Top Destinations
By Sarah McCosham|Updated on December 05, 2023(Originally published April 01, 2023)
I write like it's my job - because it is! I have a Master's in English and love words: crossword puzzles, Scrabble games, Wordle, and, of course, good, old-fashioned books.
I'm a writer and editor at OnlyInYourState, and a contributing writer at Cincinnati Magazine. I love the Great Outdoors and am endlessly awestruck by this beautiful country of ours. Coffee keeps me going, yoga keeps me sane, my kids keep me grounded, and my writing keeps me inspired.
The world is a wide, wonderful place, and the possibilities for adventure are limitless. There are well-known wonders, like the eponymous Seven Wonders of the World, and exotic, awe-inspiring destinations all across the globe. But you don’t have to travel to the ends of the Earth to have a bucket-list-worthy adventure; amazing places exist all across this great country of ours. We’ve covered well-known destinations fairly extensively here at OnlyInYourState, but there’s so much more to discover and delight in — and often where you’d least expect. Today we’re sharing 19 of the most incredible lesser-known natural wonders in the US; bucket-list places that easily rival our country’s top bucket-list items.
There’s something truly magical about waterfalls. Whether you’re reveling in the grandeur of the largest waterfall in the US, or simply taking in a babbling little cascade while on a hike, waterfalls are extraordinary natural wonders that really must be experienced in person. Happily, there are numerous bucket-list-worthy waterfalls in the US, so no matter which state you call home, you’re guaranteed to be close to one of these wondrous falls.
Geological Wonders in the US
Caves, canyons, striking rock formations — the US is filled with so many marvelous geological wonders. Some of these extraordinary gems can be admired from a distance whilst hiking or paddling; others, however, invite adventure seekers to touch, feel, and experience their granite facades in a more hands-on way, scaling their surfaces or perhaps seeking shelter or respite from the elements. If you’re looking for the most jaw-dropping geological wonders in the US, consider the following bucket-list destinations:
Waterfront Wonders in the US
For most of us, the coast and water offer endless inspiration and intrigue. We come to the beach to gaze out into the expanse and feel the awe and wonder of being alive and at the moment. Add in a rock formation or coastal waterfall, and you have the makings of a wonderful experience on the water in the US.
When planning your next big adventure in America, the options are numerous: from frozen waterfalls and dreamy hot springs to manmade wonders and captivating castles, opportunities abound for epic exploration in the US. Some might say “the sky’s the limit,” — but any stargazer or mountain climber would disagree, as there truly is no limit on what we can explore here in the U.S. In fact, there are entire worlds beneath our feet; the US is home to caverns and caves creating some of the most incredible underworlds known to mankind.
Other Little-Known Wonders in the US
The world is a wide and wonderful place; its immense grandeur is impossible to quantify or categorize. Though this list of natural wonders of the US obviously aims to do just that, the truth is that there are so many more wonders to experience in America the Beautiful. What follows are some other little-known wonders in the US; these are jaw-dropping places sure to stop you in your tracks and satisfy even the most insatiable wanderlust.
Whether you’re researching “things to add to my bucket list,” or asking yourself, “What should I have on my bucket list?” we hope that this list comes in handy!
When was the last time you discovered something new? These natural wonders and bucket list items are all sure to stoke and satiate the adventurous spirit that lives inside us all, so go forth and have a bucket-list-worthy experience! Are there any destinations that you think we should have covered? Be sure to share them with us in the comments below — we would love to hear from you! And before embarking on your next great outdoor adventure, don’t forget to check out our list of hiking essentials.
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Natural Wonders Of The U.S.
Sarah M.|April 06, 2023
What are some must-see natural wonders in the US?
In addition to the little-known waterfalls, caves, and geological formations listed above, here are some other must-see natural wonders in the US:
Baxter State Park - Millinocket, Maine. Baxter State Park offers over 200,000 beautiful acres of land on which to explore, unwind, and let go. While Acadia National Park often steals the show in Maine, this little-known state park is one of the most amazing places to visit in the US.
Thor's Well - Cape Perpetua, Oregon. It's hard to describe Thor's Well as just one natural wonder; this swirling, white-capped "drainpipe of the Pacific" is an immensely beautiful place that's long captured the curiosity of adventurers. No one is quite certain exactly how it formed, either; but one theory is that the well was once a sea cave until the roof collapsed, leaving a hole on the coast that is roughly 20 feet deep. But who needs an explanation for a natural wonder? All we know for sure is, this amazing, swirling, spurting saltwater well is absolutely, positively wondrous.
The Badlands - South Dakota. Lauded as one of the most beautiful places on the planet, the Badlands of South Dakota are a true world wonder. Renowned for their rich and vibrant fossil beds, the Badlands, named as such by the native Lakota tribe for its arid and extreme terrain, are unlike anywhere else in the U.S.
The Dyerville Giant - California. Located along the popular Avenue of Giants, it’s here where you can walk among some of the tallest trees in the world, including the magnificent Dyerville Giant. The giant redwood once stood 362 feet tall and was considered the tallest tree in the park before its fall in 1991. The redwood’s crash to the ground moved the earth so much that it registered on a nearby seismograph, and one local, who heard the impact from half a mile away, thought a train had crashed.
Buckskin Gulch - Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness, Utah/Arizona. In a state known for its striking canyons and gorges, Buckskin Gulch truly stands out as one of the most incredible and picturesque. This gulch is more than 12 miles long and anywhere from 100 to 200 feet deep, making this Utah wonder the world's largest slot canyon, in fact.
What are the seven wonders of the USA?
Looking for a "best of the best" list of must-visit natural wonders in the US? The seven wonders of the United States includes amazing places like: