The Grand Canyon gets nearly five million visitors each year. It’s a bucket list item for many, and rightly so. This spectacular geological feature is one-mile deep, 18 miles wide, and 277 miles long and is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. A trip to the Grand Canyon is sure to bring awe-inspiring views of the massive canyon and it’s distinct geologic colors. The Colorado River carves through the canyon, which offers distinct views of its own. Hike, raft, or stare. There’s no wrong way to do the Grand Canyon.
As the world’s first national park, Yellowstone has some pretty lofty expectations. This 3,500-square mile wilderness area lives up to the hype. It’s home to many geologic processes that occur simultaneously. Yellowstone has some of the Earth’s most active volcanic, hydrothermal, and earthquake systems in the world. It features legendary canyons, forests, hot springs, and geysers. Add in a mix of wildlife and the world famous “Old Faithful” geyser and Yellowstone is a must see destination for any traveler.
Yosemite National Park is a true hidden gem. Located in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, it’s home to iconic views and one of a kind landmarks. The most recognizable part of the park is the esteemed Yosemite Valley. You can catch glimpses of famous cliffs, waterfalls, and rivers at this six square mile area of the park. There’s the towering Half Dome, cliff filled El Capitan, and the Valley View vista. It’s easy to see why American author John Muir called Yosemite one of “God’s first temples.”
Niagara Falls stretches two countries, three waterfalls, and 400 acres. The majestic waterfalls lie on the U.S.-Canada border and flow over 3,000 tons of water every second. These powerful, awe-inspiring waterfalls are capable of producing over 4 million kilowatts of electricity and have a bigger water flow than any other group of waterfalls. Feel the fresh mist of the falls and immerse yourself in a truly unique natural phenomenon.
Waimea Canyon is no joke. This sprawling, ten mile long canyon on Hawaii’s Kauai Island is nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. The Waimea River and the Mount Wa’ale’ale’s rainwater formed the 3,000-foot deep canyon. The result is a beautiful geological wonder with some of the most breathtaking views on the planet. Waimea Canyon’s is more tropical than its Arizona cousin and features a beautiful array of colors and waterfalls.
Step into the Alaskan Wilderness with a trip to Mendenhall Glacier. This 13.6 mile long ancient glacier is located only a few miles from downtown Juneau. Though it’s slowly deteriorating, the magnificent glacier still has exudes natural beauty and otherworldly views. This is on full display in the glacier’s ice caves. The series of caves is comprised of glowing blue ice that looks like a true winter wonderland.
Mammoth Cave is a fitting name. This vast cave turns novice tourists into true spelunkers. It’s the world’s longest cave system with more than 400 miles of explored terrain. Located in Kentucky, Mammoth Cave is a labyrinth that offers a variety of unique discoveries. There’s the Frozen Niagara section with waterfall like formations. There’s Gothic Avenue, which looks like it was modeled from 19th century architecture. Looking to stay above ground? Mammoth Cave National Park is also home to Green River and Nolin rivers and 90 miles of extensive hiking trails.
Most people are familiar with Redwood’s towering trees. However, Redwood is also home to sprawling prairies, flowing rivers, and almost 40 miles of coastline. The parks are made up of a series of temperate rainforests along the coast of northern California. Still, there’s no denying the magnitude of Redwood’s trees. California redwoods can reach a maximum height of 379 feet, making them the tallest trees in the world. A walk through Redwood is anything but a walk through the park. It’s an unforgettable experience filled with deep trails and the best Mother Earth has to offer.
Looking to explore the Wild West? Strap on your cowboy boots and head to Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona border. Monument Valley is a red-sand desert region famous for its towering sandstone buttes. It’s been a frequent filming location for many a Hollywood western. The iconic buttes rise up to 1000 feet in height and tower over the arid desert landscape. The colorful valley is a prime spot for exploration and is one of the most vast, untouched areas in the country.
The term “awe-inspiring” might seem like a cliché. But one look at the bright blue Oregon lake has known to leave many tourists speechless. Crater Lake National Park is located in the Cascade Mountains of southern Oregon. Hidden in the forest is Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States. The 1,943-foot lake is fed entirely by rain and snow, giving it a surreal blue coloring. The lake was formed on a now dormant volcano that collapsed after a major eruption thousands of years ago. Today, it’s a pristine lake with some of the cleanest and clearest waters in the world. The lake itself only comprises about 10 percent of the park. The rest is made up of a majestic old-growth forest that showcases Oregon’s wildlife and towering ponderosa pines.