The United States has a lot to offer its visitors from the busy streets of NYC to the sunny beaches of California, but there are some places in America that formed without regard to tourists or even locals.
These five natural wonders are often awe-inspiring and breathtaking; some may even change the way you perceive the natural world. Without any more hesitation, let’s explore the top natural wonders of the USA.
1.Grand Canyon (Arizona)
The majority of this 800-metre deep canyon was carved out by the Colorado River some 1.2 million years ago, but erosion and other natural forces mean that the national landmark is ever evolving. The canyon is also steeped in American history, from the Native American tribes that first inhabited the area to European explorers that arrived in the 1500s.
Tourists can take in the views of the Grand Canyon from the South Rim, take part in some extreme sports (like skydiving or rafting), camp overnight, or even spot the many animals that call the area home (i.e. canyon tree frogs, coyotes).
2. Avenue of the Giants (California)
These 90-metre tall trees have been growing for over 2,000 years and they’re still a vibrant part of America’s natural landscape. Once you’ve seen them, you’ll never waste paper again.
Visitors to this 50-kilometre forest can enjoy a gentle hike followed by a lunchtime picnic or pick up the pace by biking or rafting. It’s even possible to camp out and fish for the weekend.
3. Niagara Falls (New York)
Located on the American-Canadian border, Niagara Falls is the collective name for three majestic waterfalls that are famed for their beauty, their power-generating abilities, and several stories about daredevils that travelled over the Falls in a barrel.
Tourists can view the waterfalls from the Prospect Point Observation Tower, travel under them on the Maids of the Mist boat tour, or hike inside them to the Cave of the Winds.
4. Carlsbad Cavern (New Mexico)
This geological marvel contains an enormous natural limestone chamber, known as The Big Room, full of vast quantities of calcite formations, including stalactites.
Scientific importance aside, Carlsbad Cavern was “discovered” by a young boy who went exploring in the late 1800s and later began promoting the cave as a tourist attraction.
Visitors to the cave complex can explore its many rooms, see the cavern’s bats in flight, go camping (in the national park surrounding the cave), and even attend a stargazing party during special astronomical events.
5. The Everglades (Florida)
These tropical wetlands, described by famed conservationist Marjory Stoneman Douglas as a “River of Grass”, feature several interdependent ecosystems from the cypress swamps to the estuarine mangrove forests to the pine rockland, all of which are magnificent in their own way.
Tourists can enjoy a range of activities from eco-conscious boat tours to adventurous hiking trails to peaceful fishing to searching for rare wildlife. You can even visit the Museum of the Everglades to learn all about the history of this UNESCO World Heritage site.
Preparing for a USA holiday
If these locations have inspired you to take a trip to the USA, then it’s time to do some planning.
First off, you’ll want to think about where you like to visit. You could pick the site that you most want to see and take some time to explore the surrounding area or you might wish to travel across the country, taking in all of its natural wonders. This will determine how long you want to go for and possibly even when to plan your visit.
Once you’ve made those decisions, it’s time to sort out the important legal stuff like getting a USA visa and making sure that your passport is in date. There are currently 38 countries, including the UK, involved in a visa waiver programme with the USA. (Find out more here.) This means their citizens only need an ESTA visa, which saves time and money.
Now, it’s over to you. Which of these natural landmarks have you visited? Which have we left out? Sound off in the comments section below.