America's most beautiful natural wonders



Slide 1 of 41: A country as vast as the United States is bound to be home to some incredible works of art by Mother Nature. From sprawling canyons and towering sand dunes to huge glaciers and picturesque valleys, these are the most incredible natural wonders found in the US. Click on the Full Screen option to view these images at their best.
Slide 2 of 41: Yellowstone's most famous hot spring, the Grand Prismatic's vivid blue center is surrounded by bands of rusty orange, yellow and green, making it look otherworldly. A half-mile (0.8km) boardwalk loops around the hot spring as well as the other pools in the Midway Geyser Basin. However, Grand Prismatic is so large, it'll be hard to make out its shape. After you've seen it up close, head to the nearby Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook for a breathtaking view from further away.
Slide 3 of 41: This swampy lake that lies on the border of Texas and Louisiana is probably one of the moodiest natural wonders on this list. Spanish moss drips from the cypress trees, whose broad, knotted trunks are submerged in the dark, mysterious water. Alligators can sometimes be found basking on logs and the lake's slightly spooky ambiance is perfect for slow paddling in a kayak or canoe. These are America's most stunning lakes.
Slide 4 of 41: Stretching along the Tennessee/North Carolina border in southeastern US, the Great Smoky Mountains, also known as the Smokies, and the surrounding national park are breathtaking. Covered in thick green forests, the towering peaks of the mountains are best seen from the highest point – Clingmans Dome. Rising 6,643 feet (2,025m), it's the highest point along the Appalachian Trail and the observation tower is perfect for taking in the majestic scenery.

Slide 5 of 41: These ethereal slot canyons – divided into two sections known as The Crack and The Corkscrew – can only be explored on a guided tour with a native Navajo guide, however tours are temporarily suspended at present. It's thought that the canyon was formed by flash flooding during monsoon season which explains the smooth, flowing shapes of the walls.
Slide 6 of 41: One of Alaska's most impressive icy landforms, the gargantuan Hubbard Glacier is six miles (9.6km) wide and reaches a height of 400 feet (122m) at its tallest point. Located in the eastern part of the state, off the coast of Yakutat, the glacier is famous for being active. Unlike the world's other glaciers, it's not retreating but slowly advancing through the gulf.
Slide 7 of 41: The highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, Cadillac Mountain rises 1,530 feet (466m) above sea level. Within easy reach from the charming coastal resort Bar Harbor, the summit is the first place in the US that sees sunrise from 7 October through 6 March every year. The pink granite mountain slopes are clad with pine and spruce forests with the scenic Summit Road carving its way along the northern and eastern side of the mountain until it reaches the top. Take a look at stunning sunrises from around the world here.
Slide 8 of 41: Located in the heart of Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods is a National Natural Landmark defined by towering rock formations, consisting of red, pink and white sandstone as well as limestone. There are interactive expositions on offer to better understand how these unique rocks were formed.
Slide 9 of 41: Often called the Crown of the Continent, Glacier National Park's exceptional beauty is best on display at Logan Pass. Home to headwaters that flow as far as the Gulf of Mexico, the national park has more than 700 miles (1,126.5km) of hiking trails for visitors to take in the stunning natural landscape. Located along the Continental Divide, it's the highest stop along Going-to-the-Sun Road – a scenic mountain road meandering through the Rocky Mountains.

Slide 10 of 41: The kaleidoscopic Fly Geyser in Black Rock Desert is a totally unique sight as it was actually formed due to a human error. In the 1960s, a geothermal energy company drilled on the site in the hope of striking a usable power source. The water they hit wasn't warm enough but they failed to properly seal the opening they made. Today, the geyser still spews water and steam, and the brilliant colors are formed by the algae it's covered in.
Slide 11 of 41: America's deepest lake, reaching staggering depths of 1,943 feet (592m), Crater Lake in Oregon is the caldera basin of a collapsed volcano that filled with rain and snowmelt over time. It's often shrouded in a thick fog but in summer its blindingly blue waters are on show. Take a look at more of America's most stunning lakes here.
Slide 12 of 41: This 275-square-mile (712sq km) desert in New Mexico's Tularosa Basin is an unusual natural phenomenon. The dunes are formed by gypsum sand – a rare mineral found only in a few places on the planet. Since it dissolves in water, it's almost a miracle such large quantities of it exist in one place but thanks to New Mexico's dry climate, the sand thrives here, creating a magical landscape. Discover more mysterious places on Earth.
Slide 13 of 41: A vast area of protected wetland in southern Florida, Everglades National Park is an oasis for hundreds of plant and animal species. The park itself covers only a small section of the sprawling wetland that's home to the endangered Florida panther and the American alligator. One of the best ways to take in this incredible ecosystem is by gliding through the mangroves on an airboat tour, but check the NPS website for reopenings and safety protocols.
Slide 14 of 41: A beautiful spot to splash around in summer, this natural swimming hole is just 20 miles (32km) west of the Texas state capital. The bright green pool was once entirely underground until the sheltering limestone roof above it collapsed. A 50-foot (15m) waterfall feeds the pool.

Slide 15 of 41: The utterly epic Monument Valley and its towering sandstone buttes rising up from the barren red-sand desert is an incredible sight to behold. Monument Valley is located on the Utah/Arizona state border and its tallest butte towers 1,000 feet (300m) above the valley floor. From John Ford's Point overlook, you'll catch a glimpse of the iconic view of the most famous buttes.
Slide 16 of 41: The chilly waters of Kenai Fjords National Park and its beautiful scenery is really unlike anywhere else in the world. Kayak in Resurrection Bay and you'll see sculpted glaciers and vegetation-clad rocks protruding from the crystal blue water. Pictured is an area of Resurrection Bay, known as Spire Cove.
Slide 17 of 41: Famed for its beautiful vistas, cliffs and lush forests, Yosemite National Park is full of incredible attractions like Half Dome. There's nothing quite like the Yosemite Valley though. From the Tunnel View viewpoint you can see the jaw-dropping landscape in all its splendor. Yosemite Valley is doing a phased reopening with restrictions, so check the NPS website before traveling.
Slide 18 of 41: Some 12 miles (19km) from Alaska's state capital Juneau are these unusual cool blue caves. They're carved deep through the Mendenhall Glacier and reaching them is no easy feat. Adventurers must hike across a vast ice field, often scrambling over slippery rock faces on the approach. The ethereal caves are worth the effort though. Sadly, the glacier is receding at a rapid pace, meaning the caves might not last much longer.
Slide 19 of 41: There are several spots in California perfect for admiring the imposing redwoods. Take your pick between Redwood National and State Parks; head to Sequoia National Park (open but with restrictions) to see the largest living single-stem tree General Sherman; or walk among the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove in Yosemite. Along the Avenue of the Giants (pictured), admire the majestic trees surrounding the road. Now take a look at more of the world's most beautiful trees.
Slide 20 of 41: The golden mounds of Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve are a sight to behold. The protected dunes are the tallest in North America reaching around 750 feet (228.6m) at their highest point. It takes around five hours to reach the summit of Star Dune, the tallest of them all.
Slide 21 of 41: It may not be the biggest or the tallest waterfall in the world, but it's definitely one of the most famous. With a distinctive green color due to a mix of rock flour and salts, the three waterfalls pour across the border of the US and Canada. If you're ready to brave the spray of the waterfall, board the Maid of the Mist for a boat tour that takes you straight to the bottom of the falls (currently open with safety measures in place) or you could trek to one of the many observation decks and watch from above. These are the world's most impressive waterfalls.
Slide 22 of 41: A popular trek in Zion National Park, The Narrows is aptly named after the narrowest section of the Zion Canyon where the Virgin River carves its way through the slot canyon. It's a rather unusual 16-mile (26km) hike as you'll have to wade through water and maybe even swim. You can also follow a paved Riverside Walk to see this unique natural landmark. Check the NPS website for safety restrictions and current conditions before you go.
Slide 23 of 41: Often considered one of the prettiest beaches in the country, Ruby Beach is the crown jewel of the Olympic National Park in Washington state. Famous for its dramatic scenery of weathered driftwood, large islands known as sea stacks and the Jurassic Park-like forest that surrounds it, the beach is named after the ruby-like crystals in the beach sand.
Slide 24 of 41: Found on the Snake River in southern Idaho, Shoshone Falls are often called the Niagara of the West. A must-see attraction in Twin Falls, the waterfall is 212 feet (64.6m) high and flows over a rim nearly 1,000 feet (304.8m) wide. Although the falls are stunning throughout the year, they're gorgeous in spring or early summer when the water flow is high due to snowmelt.
Slide 25 of 41: With some of the most dramatic scenery in the country, the Teton mountains are a sight to behold. Grand Teton, the highest mountain in the Grand Teton National Park, is one of the top American mountaineering destinations. From the ground, there's also Oxbow Bend, with brilliant views of the mountains and wildlife like moose, black bears, otters and the occasional grizzly. Discover the best animal encounters in every state.
Slide 26 of 41: You'll have a hard time believing that these color-splashed mountains are real. With distinct lines of red, yellow, orange and black, these hills show how the climate and the geology has changed over time. Painted Hills Scenic Byway is the best way to explore them as the 161-mile (259km) route joins up the three archaeological sites of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, of which Painted Hills is one.
Slide 27 of 41: Rising an incredible 14,410 feet (4,392m) above sea level, Mount Rainier is of an epic size. There are more than 130 trails snaking their way through the forested area around the mountain, surrounded by lush trees and fragrant wildflowers. Many don't know it's an active stratovolcano but it hasn't erupted since the late 19th century.
Slide 28 of 41: Among the most famous natural wonders in the world, Joshua Tree National Park is the only place in the world where you'll find these unusual looking trees. The striking spindly trees are relatives of yucca plants and are crucial to the ecosystem of the Mojave Desert where they've existed for the past 2.5 million years.
Slide 29 of 41: The tall rock spires, also known as hoodoos, are the most distinctive characteristic of this canyon in Utah. Creating a surreal landscape, the hoodoos shine in shades of yellow, orange and red. The best way to take in the incredible landscape is to follow hiking trails that lead through the strange rock formations, the forest and around the series of natural amphitheaters. The site is open but services are limited. Take a look at more of the world's stunning canyons here.
Slide 30 of 41: It's hard to pick the most beautiful spot in such an incredible national park like Denali but if we had to name one, it would be the scenery that unravels at Wonder Lake and the nearby Reflection Pond. Created by retreating glaciers, the lake offers a picture-perfect setting, framing the Denali mountain (formerly Mount McKinley) – the highest mountain in North America.
Slide 31 of 41: Stretching over 244,000 acres, Badlands National Park is a world of peaks and prairie, where bighorn sheep and bison roam free and hiking trails show off a curious rocky landscape. The Door Trail, a straightforward boardwalk loop, offers fantastic views of the badlands.
Slide 32 of 41: It's hard to believe that this towering waterfall is just a 30-minute drive from Portland. Crashing over more than 600 feet (182m) of craggy bluffs, the two-tiered waterfalls collect in a deep blue pool at the base. It's equally stunning when viewed from the base or from Benson Bridge. Built in 1914 and refurbished after a damaging fire, it's close enough to feel the spray from the waterfall.
Slide 33 of 41: These otherworldly caverns, the most extensive in the eastern United States, open out below the Shenandoah Valley's Blue Ridge Mountains. The sand-colored stalagmites and stalactites have sprouted over millions of years and winding tunnels give way to echoing chambers. Don't miss the Dream Lake where its 20 inches (51cm) of water look much deeper due to the reflections on its surface. Take a look at America's underground attractions you didn't know existed.
Slide 34 of 41: This stark landscape really is part of the famously green Pacific Northwest region. A dry lakebed, the area only sees around seven inches (17.7cm) of rain a year. The cracked earth, fringed by mountains and punctured by natural springs, is situated in southeastern Oregon and you'll get the best views by driving the Steens Loop Tour Route. Discover some of the secret wonders hidden in the world's largest deserts.
Slide 35 of 41: Devils Tower is impossible to miss – the 1,267-feet-tall (386m) rock soars high above the surrounding countryside. Made famous by Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devils Tower is also a sacred site to more than 25 Native American tribes. There’s a path winding its way around the base of the tower, offering a chance to see it from all angles.
Slide 36 of 41: One of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kīlauea is located in Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park that also encompasses the world's biggest shield volcano, Mauna Loa. In addition to the incredible volcanic scenery of black lava rock and molten lava flowing through it and into the ocean, the park is also a refuge for some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world. One of the most popular routes to see the top sights within the park, including Kīlauea, is the 11-mile (17.7km) Crater Rim Drive route.
Slide 37 of 41: A small geological formation, Turnip Rock leaves a big impression. Located in shallow waters close to Lake Huron's shore, this peculiar rock took shape due to strong waves crashing against the bottom, causing for some of the lower sections to erode rather significantly. The shallow waters surrounding the rock and the nearby coast are popular kayaking destinations.
Slide 38 of 41: Located in southeastern Washington, Palouse Falls drop for about 200 feet (61m), puncturing the course of the Palouse River. The cascade, formed by floods during the Ice Age, steals the show but visitors will also be in awe of the neat circular pool and rugged canyon walls. A trio of scenic viewpoints offer fabulous vistas of the falls. Before you go, check the park's COVID-19-related changes.
Slide 39 of 41: Opening up into an 18-mile-wide (29km) gorge through which the Colorado River carves its way, the Grand Canyon's red rust landscape is incredibly atmospheric. The canyon's South Rim is the most popular place to explore. The North Rim is quieter, while Grand Canyon West is home to the Skywalk. The park is open but with restrictions in place and limited services.
Slide 40 of 41: With the highest density of natural arches in the world, the Arches National Park boasts more than 2,000 natural red sandstone structures, the most famous being the Delicate Arch. The 52-foot (16m) freestanding arch is among the park's most popular attractions and there's a 1.5-mile (2.4km) hiking trail leading up to the famous formation.
Slide 41 of 41: The Elk Mountains in Colorado are littered with scenic viewpoints and gorgeous landscapes, yet nothing beats Maroon Bells – two of the highest peaks in the Elk Mountains – reflecting in Crater Lake. It's a truly spectacular sight to behold. Now take a look at these stunning lakes you won't believe are man-made.

Nature at its best

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone’s most famous hot spring, the Grand Prismatic’s vivid blue center is surrounded by bands of rusty orange, yellow and green, making it look otherworldly. A half-mile (0.8km) boardwalk loops around the hot spring as well as the other pools in the Midway Geyser Basin. However, Grand Prismatic is so large, it’ll be hard to make out its shape. After you’ve seen it up close, head to the nearby Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook for a breathtaking view from further away.

Caddo Lake, Texas/Louisiana

This swampy lake that lies on the border of Texas and Louisiana is probably one of the moodiest natural wonders on this list. Spanish moss drips from the cypress trees, whose broad, knotted trunks are submerged in the dark, mysterious water. Alligators can sometimes be found basking on logs and the lake’s slightly spooky ambiance is perfect for slow paddling in a kayak or canoe. These are America’s most stunning lakes.

Great Smoky Mountains, Tennessee/North Carolina

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

These ethereal slot canyons – divided into two sections known as The Crack and The Corkscrew – can only be explored on a guided tour with a native Navajo guide, however tours are temporarily suspended at present. It’s thought that the canyon was formed by flash flooding during monsoon season which explains the smooth, flowing shapes of the walls.

Hubbard Glacier, Alaska

Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park, Maine

The highest point along the North Atlantic seaboard, Cadillac Mountain rises 1,530 feet (466m) above sea level. Within easy reach from the charming coastal resort Bar Harbor, the summit is the first place in the US that sees sunrise from 7 October through 6 March every year. The pink granite mountain slopes are clad with pine and spruce forests with the scenic Summit Road carving its way along the northern and eastern side of the mountain until it reaches the top. Take a look at stunning sunrises from around the world here.

Garden of the Gods, Colorado

Logan Pass, Glacier National Park, Montana

Fly Geyser, Nevada

Crater Lake, Oregon

America’s deepest lake, reaching staggering depths of 1,943 feet (592m), Crater Lake in Oregon is the caldera basin of a collapsed volcano that filled with rain and snowmelt over time. It’s often shrouded in a thick fog but in summer its blindingly blue waters are on show. Take a look at more of America’s most stunning lakes here.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

This 275-square-mile (712sq km) desert in New Mexico’s Tularosa Basin is an unusual natural phenomenon. The dunes are formed by gypsum sand – a rare mineral found only in a few places on the planet. Since it dissolves in water, it’s almost a miracle such large quantities of it exist in one place but thanks to New Mexico’s dry climate, the sand thrives here, creating a magical landscape. Discover more mysterious places on Earth.

Everglades, Florida

A vast area of protected wetland in southern Florida, Everglades National Park is an oasis for hundreds of plant and animal species. The park itself covers only a small section of the sprawling wetland that’s home to the endangered Florida panther and the American alligator. One of the best ways to take in this incredible ecosystem is by gliding through the mangroves on an airboat tour, but check the NPS website for reopenings and safety protocols.

Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas

Monument Valley, Arizona/Utah

Spire Cove, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Famed for its beautiful vistas, cliffs and lush forests, Yosemite National Park is full of incredible attractions like Half Dome. There’s nothing quite like the Yosemite Valley though. From the Tunnel View viewpoint you can see the jaw-dropping landscape in all its splendor. Yosemite Valley is doing a phased reopening with restrictions, so check the NPS website before traveling.

Mendenhall Glacier ice caves, Alaska

Redwoods, Avenue of the Giants, California

There are several spots in California perfect for admiring the imposing redwoods. Take your pick between Redwood National and State Parks; head to Sequoia National Park (open but with restrictions) to see the largest living single-stem tree General Sherman; or walk among the giant sequoias of Mariposa Grove in Yosemite. Along the Avenue of the Giants (pictured), admire the majestic trees surrounding the road. Now take a look at more of the world’s most beautiful trees.

Star Dune, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado

Niagara Falls, New York

It may not be the biggest or the tallest waterfall in the world, but it’s definitely one of the most famous. With a distinctive green color due to a mix of rock flour and salts, the three waterfalls pour across the border of the US and Canada. If you’re ready to brave the spray of the waterfall, board the Maid of the Mist for a boat tour that takes you straight to the bottom of the falls (currently open with safety measures in place) or you could trek to one of the many observation decks and watch from above. These are the world’s most impressive waterfalls.

The Narrows, Zion National Park, Utah

A popular trek in Zion National Park, The Narrows is aptly named after the narrowest section of the Zion Canyon where the Virgin River carves its way through the slot canyon. It’s a rather unusual 16-mile (26km) hike as you’ll have to wade through water and maybe even swim. You can also follow a paved Riverside Walk to see this unique natural landmark. Check the NPS website for safety restrictions and current conditions before you go.

Ruby Beach, Olympic National Park, Washington

Shoshone Falls, Idaho

Found on the Snake River in southern Idaho, Shoshone Falls are often called the Niagara of the West. A must-see attraction in Twin Falls, the waterfall is 212 feet (64.6m) high and flows over a rim nearly 1,000 feet (304.8m) wide. Although the falls are stunning throughout the year, they’re gorgeous in spring or early summer when the water flow is high due to snowmelt.

Grand Teton, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

With some of the most dramatic scenery in the country, the Teton mountains are a sight to behold. Grand Teton, the highest mountain in the Grand Teton National Park, is one of the top American mountaineering destinations. From the ground, there’s also Oxbow Bend, with brilliant views of the mountains and wildlife like moose, black bears, otters and the occasional grizzly. Discover the best animal encounters in every state.

Painted Hills, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon

Mount Rainier, Washington

Joshua trees, Joshua Tree National Park, California

Bryce Canyon, Utah

The tall rock spires, also known as hoodoos, are the most distinctive characteristic of this canyon in Utah. Creating a surreal landscape, the hoodoos shine in shades of yellow, orange and red. The best way to take in the incredible landscape is to follow hiking trails that lead through the strange rock formations, the forest and around the series of natural amphitheaters. The site is open but services are limited. Take a look at more of the world’s stunning canyons here.

Wonder Lake, Denali National Park, Alaska

Burns Basin, Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Multnomah Falls, Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, Oregon

Luray Caverns, Virginia

These otherworldly caverns, the most extensive in the eastern United States, open out below the Shenandoah Valley’s Blue Ridge Mountains. The sand-colored stalagmites and stalactites have sprouted over millions of years and winding tunnels give way to echoing chambers. Don’t miss the Dream Lake where its 20 inches (51cm) of water look much deeper due to the reflections on its surface. Take a look at America’s underground attractions you didn’t know existed.

Alvord Desert, Oregon

This stark landscape really is part of the famously green Pacific Northwest region. A dry lakebed, the area only sees around seven inches (17.7cm) of rain a year. The cracked earth, fringed by mountains and punctured by natural springs, is situated in southeastern Oregon and you’ll get the best views by driving the Steens Loop Tour Route. Discover some of the secret wonders hidden in the world’s largest deserts.

Devils Tower, Wyoming

Devils Tower is impossible to miss – the 1,267-feet-tall (386m) rock soars high above the surrounding countryside. Made famous by Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devils Tower is also a sacred site to more than 25 Native American tribes. There’s a path winding its way around the base of the tower, offering a chance to see it from all angles.

Kīlauea, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

One of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kīlauea is located in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park that also encompasses the world’s biggest shield volcano, Mauna Loa. In addition to the incredible volcanic scenery of black lava rock and molten lava flowing through it and into the ocean, the park is also a refuge for some of the rarest flora and fauna in the world. One of the most popular routes to see the top sights within the park, including Kīlauea, is the 11-mile (17.7km) Crater Rim Drive route.

Turnip Rock, Lake Huron, Michigan

Palouse Falls, Washington

Located in southeastern Washington, Palouse Falls drop for about 200 feet (61m), puncturing the course of the Palouse River. The cascade, formed by floods during the Ice Age, steals the show but visitors will also be in awe of the neat circular pool and rugged canyon walls. A trio of scenic viewpoints offer fabulous vistas of the falls. Before you go, check the park’s COVID-19-related changes.

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Opening up into an 18-mile-wide (29km) gorge through which the Colorado River carves its way, the Grand Canyon’s red rust landscape is incredibly atmospheric. The canyon’s South Rim is the most popular place to explore. The North Rim is quieter, while Grand Canyon West is home to the Skywalk. The park is open but with restrictions in place and limited services.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

With the highest density of natural arches in the world, the Arches National Park boasts more than 2,000 natural red sandstone structures, the most famous being the Delicate Arch. The 52-foot (16m) freestanding arch is among the park’s most popular attractions and there’s a 1.5-mile (2.4km) hiking trail leading up to the famous formation.

Crater Lake, Elk Mountains, Colorado

The Elk Mountains in Colorado are littered with scenic viewpoints and gorgeous landscapes, yet nothing beats Maroon Bells – two of the highest peaks in the Elk Mountains – reflecting in Crater Lake. It’s a truly spectacular sight to behold. Now take a look at these stunning lakes you won’t believe are man-made.

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