Surprising sights in the States
Alvord Desert, Oregon
Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve, Idaho
It’s hard to believe that this secluded slice of America’s backyard exists within the Grand Canyon (the second most-visited national park in the US). But it does. The Havasupai Tribe have lived in the village of Supai since AD 1300 and, in part down to the arduous eight-mile trek it takes to reach it, the area has stayed largely off the tourist radar. Those who commit to the hardy hike will be rewarded with waterfalls plunging towards eye-popping blue pools reminiscent of Turkey’s Pamukkale.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Michigan
Rawah Wilderness, Colorado
Firefall, Horsetail Fall, California
Jungle Gardens, Avery Island, Louisiana
Cliff Palace, Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado
Tucked into the cliffs in the Mesa Verde National Park, you’ll find Cliff Palace, the largest such dwelling in North America. Built by the Ancestral Puebloans between about AD 1190 and 1260, today you can take a tour of this magnificent 150-room site. However you’ll need to be relatively fit to do so: the hour-long walk involves a 100-foot (30m) vertical climb, stone stairs and ladders too.
Incredible ancient ruins in the USA you probably didn’t know existed
Fall Creek Falls, Tennessee
This dramatic waterfall in the US could just as easily be in New Zealand – the cascade bears a striking resemblance to the country’s famed Humboldt Falls. But these thundering waters have their home in eastern Tennessee in the eponymous Fall Creek Falls State Park. One of the greatest natural wonders in the country’s east, the falls rush over tree-topped rock, crashing 256 feet (80m) into the lake below. There are more than 200 campsites here too, so you’ve no need to rush your adventures.
Amazing images of the world’s most stunning waterfalls
Haleakalā National Park, Hawaii
Sequim-Dungeness Valley, Washington
The Palouse, Idaho/Washington
Bonsai Rock, Nevada
Badlands National Park, South Dakota
Cà d’Zan, Sarasota, Florida
This glittering residence was inspired by the palazzos of Venice and was built in the Venetian-Gothic style during the Roaring Twenties. It was the home of notorious circus master John Ringling and his family, and the eccentric character lived here right up until his death in 1936. Since then, the home has been donated to the state of Florida and has undergone extensive renovations. Today visitors can enjoy tours of the ornate space, peering into private bedrooms and sumptuous communal areas, and drinking in the tile-embellished terra cotta façade too.
Pfeiffer Beach, California
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Mendenhall Ice Caves, Alaska
Glowing a cool blue, these stark ice caves could have been plucked straight from Scandinavia. Instead you’ll find them some 12 miles from Alaska’s capital, Juneau, carved into the 12-mile Mendenhall Glacier. To reach them is no easy feat as you’ll need to hike across a vast ice field often scrambling over slippery rock faces on your approach. The ethereal caves are worth the effort though and as the glacier is sadly receding at a rapid pace, it is best to make the trip sooner rather than later.
Discover more places under threat from climate change
Multnomah Falls, Oregon
It’s hard to believe this towering waterfall is just a 30-minute jaunt from Portland. Crashing over more than 600 feet (182m) of craggy bluffs, the two-tiered Multnomah Falls collect in a deep blue pool at the base. The best view over the falls is from Benson Bridge, built in 1914, and refurbished after a damaging fire – suspended 70 feet (21m) in the air, you’ll be close enough to feel the spray.
It’s not hard to see why this charming Michigan town is called Holland. Hundreds of Dutch immigrants settled here in the hope of making their fortune in the mid-1800s, and this heritage makes itself immediately known: expect windmills, striped tulip fields, Dutch-style architecture and a traditional clog factory where you can see shoemakers at work. With spring comes the Tulip Time Festival, when more than five million flowers carpet the town.
These American destinations feel like you’re in another country
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach, Hawaii
Luray Caverns, Virginia
These otherworldly caverns, the most extensive in the eastern United States, open out below the Shenandoah Valley’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The sand-colored stalagmites and stalactites have sprouted over millions of years, and winding tunnels give way to echoing chambers. Most fascinating of all is Dream Lake: its 20 inches of water look much deeper due the reflections on its glittering surface. There’s also an organ that uses the rock formations to make sweet music.
The world’s most fascinating caves and caverns
Hoh Rainforest, Olympic National Park, Washington
Starved Rock State Park, Illinois
As the name might suggest, this park’s winning feature is its dramatic rock formations. Starved Rock State Park is home to a total of 18 canyons, with waterfalls forming during springtime and after heavy rain. Its web of trails reaches across 13 miles and takes hikers past rocky gorges, wildflower-filled meadows and, in the winter, ice sculptures formed from frozen watery cascades.
The most beautiful state park in every US state
Glass Beach, California
Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah
White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad, Skagway, Alaska
This railway route touts itself as the most scenic in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. The snow-dusted mountains, pink and yellow wildflowers and rambling hills appear almost Alpine. The railroad, whose construction began in 1898, instead rattles through Alaska towards Canada, leaving from the little city of Skagway. The White Pass Summit Excursion is the most traditional of routes, a 40-mile jaunt taking in the teetering peak of its namesake mountain pass.
Discover more bucket-list adventures in Alaska
Haiku Stairs, Hawaii
Nicknamed the Stairway to Heaven for good reason, this dizzying staircase lines Oahu’s green Ko’olau mountains, and was built back in 1942 by the US Navy. Sadly, due to safety concerns, there are calls for the stairs to be demolished. The stairs, almost 4,000 of them, have been closed to the public for several years now and you’ll face a hefty fine if you attempt to trespass on them. However, the (legal) Kulana’ahane trail, a challenging forested hike, offers decent views of the stairway while it remains.
Castello di Amorosa, California
A castle such as this one could easily be found in Italy’s wine regions but it has pride of place in California’s Napa Valley instead. Influenced by the medieval fortresses of Tuscany, Castello di Amorosa makes Italian-style wine to match and has won plenty of awards for its offerings. Take a guided tour of the property and its vineyards, before sampling the winery’s varietals for yourself.
Don’t miss our area-by-area guide to California’s wine regions
Ice Caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore boasts all manner of natural wonders, from craggy rock formations and wind-battered cliffs to sandy strands – but none are more intriguing than the ice caves that form here each winter. The caves are accessible from a trail beginning at the Meyers Beach parking area and winding downwards (you’ll walk up to six miles in total depending on how many of the caves you take in). Their opening times are entirely dependent on conditions – check the NPS website if you’re planning a visit.
Painted Hills, Oregon
You wouldn’t expect to find this German-style village nestled at the foot of the Cascades Mountains, but downtown Leavenworth is a picture of Bavaria. Take in the Bavarian-style architecture, visit the colorful and quirky Nutcracker Museum, before a hike in the mountains. Visit in October to experience Leavenworth’s beer-soaked take on Oktoberfest.
Discover 35 of Germany’s most beautiful towns and villages
Bowling Ball Beach, California
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Watkins Glen State Park, New York
The gorge in this state park is so picturesque it could have been carved by hand. Some 19 waterfalls exist in the Finger Lakes region, formed as a stream beats its way through the narrow, moss-covered glen. Trails hem each side of the gorge, following the water’s path – opt for the Gorge Trail, a 2.5-mile loop that takes in the 50-foot (15.2m) Cavern Cascade, the most impressive of all the falls.
Unspoiled American destinations to escape the modern world
Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness, New Mexico
Midway Ice Castles, Utah
These undulating ice terraces look as though they belong in the Arctic. They’re actually man-made, the vision of Utah-based architect Brent Christensen, who erects these icy towers in the city of Midway come winter. Each of the dazzling castles, with its hand-shaped turrets and tunnels, weigh around 25,000,000 lbs, and draw visitors from all over Utah and beyond.
Stunning images of the world’s amazing ice and snow festivals
Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park, Hawaii
The rugged red and green rocks of Hawaii’s Nāpali Coast State Wilderness Park look more suited to Mars than Earth. ‘Na Pali’ means “high cliffs”, and the tallest mountains here soar to 4,000 feet (1,200m). The best way to take in the prismatic peaks is from the Kalalau Trail, a hardy, 11-mile route that rewards its hikers with a sandy beach at the end. The trail has recently reopened (due to damage caused by flooding) and online reservations are required in advance.
Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Palouse Falls State Park, Washington
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Wild horses roam Cumberland Island, the biggest of Georgia’s barrier isles, at 18 miles long. It has windswept dunes and petrified trees, and a sprawling, unspoiled coast. Home to endangered loggerhead sea turtles – its tranquillity is such that you’ll feel far further away than seven miles off Georgia’s mainland. A ferry leaves the city of St Mary’s from March through to November, and the island offers hiking, biking and swimming opportunities, plus dark skies perfect for stargazing.
America’s best spots for stargazing
Thor’s Well, Oregon
Caddo Lake, Texas
Texas’ Caddo Lake could be straight from a fairy tale, its elegant cypress trees reflected in the water’s ripple-less skin. The Spanish moss draped across the branches make the waterways all the more ethereal. Take to the lake’s 26,810-acre expanse, and paddle between the moss-cloaked trees, before jumping back on land to explore the depths of the forestland on foot. Overnight at one of the historic cabins perched on the lakeside.
Red Sand Beach, Hawaii
Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
Eternal Flame Falls, New York
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
Mono Lake, California
Misty Fiords National Monument, Tongass National Forest, Alaska
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii
Skagit Valley tulip fields, Washington
Boldt Castle, New York
The USA is not known for its fortresses, but this European-inspired castle in New York’s Alexandria Bay delivers. It was built in the early 1900s for millionaire George C. Boldt and his beloved wife, who passed during its construction, leading Boldt to abandon his extravagant project. With its Italian-style gardens and whimsical turrets, it rivals the many castles on the Continent for sheer fairy-tale factor. The castle can be reached by boat, and is open throughout the summer and fall.
Fairy-tale castles you never knew existed in the USA
Bombay Beach, California
Most visitors to America are au fait with ghost towns, but ghost beaches are another matter. Once a thriving resort area modeled on the French Riviera, Bombay Beach was all but destroyed by the ever-increasing salt levels of the Salton Sea, which killed off its marine life and frightened away tourists. Today some residents remain in the surrounding area, with the beach otherwise attracting photographers and film crews with its apocalyptic expanse.
Discover the eeriest ghost towns in America
Turnip Rock, Michigan
Twenty-foot-tall trees sprout from this unusual rock formation in Port Austin. Thought to resemble a turnip due to its squat shape and the generous greenery on its surface, the rock has been formed by the wear and tear of the waves over millennia. You can rent kayaks from the mainland and paddle out to see the structure (since much of its surrounding land is private, it’s not possible to see it from the shore). The round trip is seven miles, so best suits those with some kayaking experience.
Read more: America’s most stunning lakes
Fly Geyser, Nevada
The kaleidoscopic Fly Geyser in Black Rock Desert is a unique sight indeed – but this rainbow wonder was actually formed by human error. In the 1960s, a geothermal energy company drilled on the site, in the hope of striking a usable power source. The water they hit was not warm enough for their purposes, but they failed to properly seal the opening they’d made. Today the geyser still spews searing water and steam, and the brilliant colors are formed by the algae it’s covered in.
Jaw-dropping photos of America from above
Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado
You’d be forgiven for thinking these vast, golden dunes were in the Sahara Desert but they’re actually in Colorado, in the aptly named Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The loftiest dunes in North America, the sand mountains are framed by blue skies and flanked by snow-capped peaks – they’re best explored on a sled or a sand board, or after dark when the inky sky above is flecked with stars.
Secret wonders hidden in the world’s largest deserts
Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas
This natural swimming hole wouldn’t look out of place in the Mediterranean – in fact it’s just over 20 miles west of Austin. A 50-foot (15m) waterfall feeds the green pool, which was once entirely underground, before the sheltering limestone roof above it collapsed. The pool is now a popular spot for a dip in the summer months – you’ll need a reservation to access it.
Source: Read Full Article