Sometimes we all need a reminder to stop and appreciate the natural beauty all around us. Sure, there are plenty of international destinations that are undeniably stunning, but there are also so many places right here in the U.S. of A. that will absolutely take your breath away. Check out these incredible places around the country, and remember that some of the best scenery in the world is right in our backyard.
1. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, Washington
They're big, they're beautiful, and they're a perfect reminder of how beautiful springtime can be here in the U.S. The Skagit Valley tulip fields are best visited during the annual tulip festival during the month of April. Visitors can take a driving tour through the tulips and marvel at the multitude and variety of the blooms.
2. Watkins Glen State Park, New York
This stunning pocket of wilderness looks like something out of Middle Earth. One of the Finger Lake State Parks, the stream that runs through the park plummets over 200-foot cliffs and creates over 19 waterfalls for visitors to marvel at. The most scenic of these may be the Cavern Cascade, pictured above. There are plenty of trails, campsites, picnic areas, and guided tours available for those wishing to explore more than the waterfall areas.
3. Maroon Bells, Colorado
Located in the majestic Elk Mountains, this colorful woodland region is home to over 100 miles of trails and pristine natural landscapes. If skiing at nearby Aspen isn't your thing, definitely check out these incredible trails stretching over 181,000 acres.
4. Bryce Canyon, Utah
These scarlet rocks create natural stone amphitheatres. The bizarre formations are called "hoodoos," and are formed by the forces of erosion acting on the canyon over thousands of years. One of the best places to take in the beauty of the park is Inspiration Point, which is easily reached by trail. Another gorgeous spot is the natural bridge (pictured) that provides a window through the rock do the lush woodlands below.
5. Devil's Tower, Wyoming
This striking tower of stone is actually an igneous intrusion, which means that it was formed when magma became trapped under the earth's surface and pushed up on the rocky terrain, creating a sort of stone bubble. There are many native legends and myths surrounding this mysterious stone wonder.
6. The Wave, Arizona
This place may be stunning, but you might not ever be able to see it with your own eyes. Located in the famed Coyote Buttes of the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness, this place is only accessible by a rugged trek through the canyons without any clear trail to guide you. Even if you're up for the journey, only 20 permits to visit The Wave are issued per day, and the waiting list is staggering. Still, if you ever have the chance to see this natural marvel, don't forget your camera.
7. Brookside Gardens, Maryland
This botanical paradise is 50 acres of pure, lush, blooming beauty. Located within Wheaton Regional Park, there is no admission fee to enter these gorgeous grounds. Once inside, you'll find an array of rare plants, rose gardens, and spectacular greenhouses. This is one of the most beautiful spots in Maryland.
8. Ruby Falls, Tennessee
Located deep within Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, this cascade is the deepest waterfall in America that is accessible by the public. Water tumbles 145 feet into an underground pool that is over 1,100 feet below the surface of the mountain. Colored lights are occasionally used to enhance the ethereal mood of the cavern.
9. Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma
This place is a treat for the eyes and the body. The Chickasaw National Recreation Area was originally allocated to the Choctaw Nation, but when hot springs and mineral pools were discovered in the area, the Choctaw sold the land to the federal government in an effort to keep commercial developers from making the region into a resort area. The government converted the land to a nature preserve, and visitors flock here to marvel at the clear waters of Travertine Creek and learn about the Choctaw people at the park's learning center.
10. Shoshone Falls, Idaho
These falls are much taller than those in Niagara – at 212 feet high, they tower over the Snake River. For comparison, Niagara Falls is only 167 feet tall. Water thunders over rocky cliffs at a staggering rate all year round, but these falls are at their best in the spring.
11. Northern Lights, Alaska
You don't have to travel to the furthest reaches of Scandinavia for a glimpse of these magical lights. The Alaskan sky in The Interior and Far North regions are particularly good spots to witness the aurora, but the lights can actually be seen across the state at different times of the year.
12. Courthouse and Jail Rocks, Nebraska
Chimney Rock might get most of the press, but these two stone behemoths are equally stunning. Formed from clay and sandstone, the rocks stand tall over the surrounding grasslands. Arikaree Group of stones don't draw as many tourists, which makes them the perfect place to wonder at the beauty of nature without a crowd of gawkers at your elbows.
13. Mount Washington Cog Railway, New Hampshire
This railway may be the most scenic and nostalgic way to take in the autumn splendor of Mount Washington. The railway leads through some of the most picturesque parts of the mountain. Passengers will definitely feel like they've stepped back in time to an era when railroads ruled America.
14. New River Gorge, Virginia
The lush greenery and steep hills of the New River Gorge give the impression that this pristine wilderness is extends forever into the distance. This protected area supports a myriad of aquatic species and rare flora, as well as offering plenty of opportunities for outdoor fun.
15. Yellowstone National Park, Montana, Idaho & Wyoming
This is one of America's most beloved national parks, and its beauty is renowned across the globe. These 3,500-square miles of untouched wilderness are home to colorful hot springs, erupting geysers, lush alpine meadows, and rugged woodlands.
16. Nā Pali Coast State Park, Hawaii
The rugged coast of this Hawaiian nature preserve is best seen by helicopter; if you want to explore this park by foot, you'll have to use the Kalalau Trail. It provides access to numerous sea caves and makes for a hike you'll never forget.
17. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico
If cave exploration is your thing, these caverns will give you more spelunking thrills than you can handle. Hike down 750 feet into this glittering underworld, or simply take the elevator. Over 119 caves wind through the limestone bedrock of the region, and there are possibly more caverns that have yet to be discovered. Will you be the one who put them on the map?
What spot in the U.S. do you think shows off the true beauty of this nation? Let us know!
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