5 Outdoor Destinations in the U.S. to Add to Your Bucket List

With international travel made easier than ever due to budget booking sites, apps that let you communicate anywhere with Wi-Fi, and a slew of alternatives to standard hotels, it is easy to overlook the U.S. when you have a week of vacation time to use up. However, you happen to live in one of the largest (the third largest to be exact) countries in the world with outdoor destinations ranging from white sand beaches to mountains to desert to everything in between. It turns out, traveling around the U.S. can be hard to beat. Plus, you can do it all without a passport or the cost of an expensive plane ticket.

Whether you have your heart set on mountains, wilderness, or beaches, these are some of the most celebrated natural wonders in the U.S. to tack onto your bucket list.

1. Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska


Glacier hiking | Source: U.S. Forest Service – Tongass National Forest

This 13-mile long sheet of ice was formed some 3,000 years ago. Unless you’re really into hiking on strange surfaces, you may be tempted to write this one off until you realize that you can go inside the glacier. That’s right. Deep within the glacier is a magical world of blue ice caves unlike anything else in the world. The only problem is that as the glacier melts (as ice seems to do) this natural phenomenon will go away. This is one bucket list item that won’t be around forever, so take advantage of this short window of time.

2. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida


Fort Jefferson | Source: Dry Tortugas National Park courtesy of Maria Farias

If you can’t get enough of warm crystal clear water, but can’t stand sharing the beach with hundreds of other people, this isolate island west of Key West in the Gulf of Mexico may quickly climb the ranks of outdoor destinations on your bucket list. The area is only accessible by boat or seaplane, but there is an abundance of sea life and history, which makes the trip worth the effort. Check out Fort Jefferson, take part in some casual birding, and snorkel off the stunning beaches.

3. Antelope Canyon, Arizona

You may not have heard of Antelope Canyon, but you probably recognize it. This natural wonder is a photographer’s dream with its narrow canyons slinking between bright red walls of rock that ebbs and flows with graceful curves and sharp contours. The quiet, natural world was created over the span of many years by wind and water. Whether you visit Antelope Canyon alone or pair it with an excursion to the nearby Lake Powell, this is one part of the country not to be missed.

4. Yosemite National Park, California


Yosemite | Source: Yosemite National Park

For some of the most impressive scenery in the world, a quick trip to California is in order. The park boasts over 800 miles of trails, great weather, and summits like the Half Dome and El Capitan. This spot has something for the hiker, the photographer, the climber, and those who just want to bask in the impressive splendor of Yosemite.

5. Niagra Falls, New York

No list of natural wonders would be complete without America’s oldest state park. Niagra Falls is as impressive as you think. It’s a free activity (although the surrounding attractions will cost you) and there is nothing quite like the feeling of witnessing all three waterfalls that make up Niagra Falls powerfully plunge down around you. If you want to experience something different, visit the falls at night when they’re illuminated.

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