Dreaming of an epic road trip across the country this summer or in the future? If so, you’re not alone. With the rising cost of airline tickets, this form of travel is becoming more and more popular. And it’s not even like car or RV travelers are missing out — there is so much to see in this beautiful country, including a plethora of natural wonders.
However, the huge number of natural wonders can be overwhelming when you’re trying to plan your road trip. Should you take the north route or the south route? What about Alaska? No matter what your plans, don’t miss out on the most amazing natural wonders you’ll want to see in your lifetime.
1. Mammoth Cave, Kentucky
The longest underground cave system in the world can be found in the heart of Kentucky at Mammoth Cave National Park. This aptly named system of caves boasts more than 400 miles discovered — and possibly more. Early guide Stephen Bishop called the cave a “grand, gloomy and peculiar place.” Now you can take a variety of tours and see it for yourself.
Next: The photos of this place don’t do it justice.
2. Redwoods, California
Surely you’ve seen pictures of the famous Redwood Forest in California, but two-dimensional photographs don’t do these ancient trees justice. They are among the tallest trees in the world and are a worthy addition to any bucket list. You won’t regret making the trek to visit this amazing place.
Next: This place is worth battling crowds to see.
3. Niagara Falls, New York
Formed by melting glaciers, the beauty of Niagara Falls should be experienced in person. The Niagara River flows at approximately 35 miles per hour. It’s one of the most popular tourist destinations in the nation, but in this case it’s worth it.
Next: There are so many ways to explore this iconic Western setting.
4. Monument Valley, Utah
You can enjoy horseback riding, jeep tours, hiking, and stargazing on your own or with a Navajo guide in this 17 mile area of mesas, buttes, and angular rocks with architectural beauty. It’s like the set of your favorite Western movie come to life.
Next: This is one of the most stunning places on Earth.
5. Grand Canyon, Arizona
It may be cliché to visit the Grand Canyon — but it should be on every bucket list. It’s one of the seven wonders of the natural world and stretches 18 miles at its widest point. The rock at the bottom of the canyon is estimated to be 2 billion years old.
Next: George Washington visited this place.
6. Natural Bridge, Virginia
This natural bridge, considered one of the natural wonders of the world, was most likely created from a gorge that collapsed. According to legend, young George Washington surveyed the bridge for Lord Fairfax in 1750 and may have even left his initials behind.
Next: There are many different endangered animals to see here.
7. Everglades, Florida
Everglades National Park in Florida is home to a surprising number of endangered animals, including manatees, American crocodiles, and the mysterious and rare Florida panther. Explore the wilderness, go camping, frolic among the huge wading bird population, and see wetland preservation efforts firsthand.
Next: This is just one of many natural stunners in this state.
8. Hubbard Glacier, Alaska
Known as America’s last frontier, it’s basically impossible to visit Alaska without experiencing breathtaking natural beauty. But while you’re there, don’t miss out on Hubbard Glacier off the coast of Yakutat (200 miles northwest of Juneau). It’s more than six miles wide where it meets the ocean with a 400-foot-tall face. It’s also active and has had two major surges in the last 30 years.
Next: This is one of the bluest lakes in existence.
9. Crater Lake, Oregon
The deepest lake in the United States also happens to be one of most beautiful. Plunging to depths of 1,943 feet, Crater Lake is fed by entirely by rain and snow, making it one of the purest and bluest lakes in the world. Experience pure tranquility when you add this to your list of must-see destinations.
Next: There are caves of all sizes here.
10. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
More than 100 caves of all sizes make up Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico. The caves were created more than 265 million years ago and discovered by indigenous Americans. You can take cave tours to experience the beauty of this natural wonder firsthand.
Next: You’re almost guaranteed to see an eruption.
11. Old Faithful, Wyoming
Yellowstone National Park is a stunning place to visit, period. While you’re there be sure to check out Old Faithful. There are more than 500 geysers in the park, but Old Faithful is the most famous and active. It erupts every 35 to 120 minutes for 1 and a half to 5 minutes.
Next: There’s no chance of getting bored at this scenic spot.
12. Acadia National Park, Maine
There’s so much to do in this national park on the coast of Maine. With seven peaks higher than 1,000 feet, hiking trails, stone bridges, and carriage roads, you’ll be able to see the beauty and biodiversity of this natural wonder up close and personal.
Next: Get ready to Instagram this gorgeous place.
13. Yosemite Valley, California
Take a car or bus through Yosemite and you’ll discover the numerous cliffs and waterfalls of Yosemite Valley. Don’t miss out on natural wonders including El Capitan Meadow, Cathedral Rocks, and the Yosemite Chapel. Tunnel View has one of the most famous, Instagram-worthy spots in the park.
Next: This protected land is strange yet beautiful.
14. Pine Barrens, New Jersey
Affectionately known as the “Pineys,” this stretch of 1.1 million acres of protected land makes up 22% of New Jersey’s land mass. The sandy and acidic soil is not conducive to farming, but beneath all those pine trees there is chemically pure water that the U.S. Geological Survey equated with melted glacial ice.
Next: It has an ominous name but so much beauty to see.
15. Death Valley, California
With its claim to fame as the hottest, driest, and lowest national park, Death Valley is not for the faint of heart. Still, this unique place is full of singular beauty, including wide open sky, oases of vibrant life, snow-covered peaks, and so many more natural wonders you need to see once in your lifetime.
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