It might sound strange to say this, but of all the countries I've spent time exploring, I think I've come to the conclusion that the United States is the most beautiful. No other country in the world can even come close to boasting such an enormous range of diverse natural wonders.
Sure, other countries might have a nicer beaches or taller waterfalls, but the United States has absolutely everything! We're talking glaciers, canyons, volcanoes, deserts, beaches, hot springs... rainforests... you name it, America has it! It's an enormous country that spans across multiple climate zones, and with that, comes an incredible diversity of landscapes. I've never been anywhere else where you can just drive and drive and drive, and with every passing hour the countryside seems to morph into something completely different!
With that in mind, it's time to explore some of the incredible natural wonders that the US has hidden up its sleeves.
1. Antelope Canyon
In recent years, Antelope Canyon has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in Arizona, if not the United States. Hidden away in the middle of the Arizona desert are a couple of amazing slot canyons. Located on Navajo land in Page, AZ, tourists can pay to be guided through these incredible swirling tunnels, carved out by centuries of flash floods and rain water.
Depending on the time of day you visit, the colours of the rock can change from purples and blues, to bright reds and oranges.
Antelope Canyon actually has two parts; Upper and Lower, and both require separate tours. Due to the increasing popularity, the tours aren't cheap and they book up fast, but they're absolutely worth it!
2. Zion National Park
Zion National Park might be my favourite National Park in the US. There is absolutely nowhere else like it in the world, and if you like interesting hikes, you won't find anywhere else with more unique options.
Zion is located in Utah, and as the name might suggest, it's a bit of an oasis in an otherwise dry and rugged part of the world. As you drive closer, the landscape suddenly becomes lush and green, and mountains seem to suddenly rise out of the ground! In fact, you're actually entering a canyon, and the home of some extremely interesting adventures.
Number one on your Zion bucket list should absolutely be the Angel's Landing hike. This is undoubtedly one of the most unsual hikes in the world, and what it lacks in length (which is actually a good thing!), it makes up for with vertical gain. The hike takes place on a razor thin rock with sheer vertical drops on either side, and some parts are so tricky that they even chains bolted into the rocks for extra support! It's an adrenaline pumping adventure that you absolutely have to check off!
Other notable adventures include the Narrows Hike (a hike up a river bed), and the Subway hike (a long hike that eventually leads to a lava tube!). There's no end of weird and wonderful adventures here.
3. The Grand Canyon
We couldn't make a list of natural wonders in the US without mentioning the Grand Canyon! It's actually so huge that it stretches to the border of 3 different states, and at its deepest point, it's over 7,800 ft deep. On average it's over a mile from the top to the bottom. At its widest, the gap is over 18 miles!
It's hard to even process how far that is, even when you're standing right at the edge!
There are a number of different ways to experience the Grand Canyon, that range from hiking down to the canyon floor, whitewater rafting down the Colorado River, taking a heli tour over it, or even walking over a glass bottomed bridge that dangles over the edge. There are also multiple access points, and depending on where you're staying, different places may appeal more.
Though canyons are common across the US, none have captured our imagination more than the Grand Canyon, and no trip to the US would be complete without checking it off your bucket list!
4. The Bonneville Salt Flats
Next on our tour of the US are the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah.
Located a few miles from Salt Lake City, the Bonneville Salt Flats seem to defy all logic. Vast and endless miles of white seem to stretch off into infinite on either side of the highway. What looks like sand is actually miles and miles of salt from a dried out lake.
During certain times of the year, water will pool on the salt, creating a dreamy reflection pool that makes it seem like you're floating in the sky.
5. Crater Lake
Crater Lake in Oregon is one of the most beautiful and unbelievable sights in the world. It's one of the world's deepest and purest lakes, and was formed from a collapsed volcano. Setting your sights on this wonder for the first time will leave you scrambling to pick your jaw up from the floor.
It's a lot of effort to reach Crater Lake, but to see the bright blue colour of the water makes the visit absolutely worth it. It's a great place to detour to if you're heading along the West Coast and want to make your trip a little more interesting!
6. The Grand Prismatic Spring
The Grand Prismatic Spring is a sight that virtually defies reason. It's a beautiful natural phenomenon that will leave you wondering how colours like this could possibly be natural.
The Grand Prismatic Spring is located in Yellowstone National Park, and is actually a naturally occurring hot spring. Believe it or not, it's the largest in the United States and the third largest in the world! The temperature of the water is a steady 70C or 160F, so it's not somewhere you'd want to swim. However, walking boardwalk around it is enough to get a sense of its incredible beauty.
7. The Avenue of the Giants
From hot springs to forests, we're now headed to the California coast and the Avenue of the Giants.
The Avenue of the Giants is a road through one of the world's largest forests. In this case, when I say 'largest', I mean the trees are some of the largest in the world, and the route is lined with Giant Redwoods. Some are so large that you can literally drive your car through them.
If you're looking for the biggest tree of all, look for the National Champion Redwood, which boasts a height of 363 feet, and a circumference of 53 feet! That's one enormous tree.
The Avenue of the Giants is a fantastic little detour if you're heading down through Northern California, and you can find it in Humboldt County.
This was a short list of some of America's best Natural Wonders, but it is by NO means exhaustive. We're just scratching the surface here, and this is very definitely the tip of the iceberg. Virtually every state has something incredible to offer each visitor, so be prepared to spend a lifetime tracking them all down!
Hopefully this short list was enough to get you excited about your next adventure!