We’ve all heard about the most famous tourist attractions in the US featured in famous movies or travel magazines. But just like every other country, the US has a lot of hidden gems that many people aren’t even aware they exist. Additionally a lot of Americans go abroad to travel the world every year without even knowing about these amazing places in their own country. Here are some breathtaking places in the US you didn’t know existed.
Apostle Islands, Michigan
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Wisconsin consists of 21 gorgeous islands in Lake Superior. This is the largest freshwater lake in the world. The islands are filled with lush forests, picturesque lighthouses, and breathtaking caves. Winter is definitely the time to visit this place. The Apostle Islands today is a federally protected area and a home to some of the most breathtaking landscapes on our planet. One spectacular sight is the stratified sandstone cliffs on the shore. In the winter they are encrusted in glittering icicles. Another amazing sight is the beautiful sea caves that turn into ice caves in the winter. Finally, one of the islands, Stockton Islands is also famous for the phenomenon of singing sands.
Devils Tower, Wyoming places in the US you didn’t know existed
places in the US you didn’t know existed
Many people don’t actually know that this was the first official United States National monument. It was proclaimed by President Roosevelt in 1906. However, in the process the apostrophe in Devil’s tower was dropped due to a typo mistake and the error was never corrected. Even though it looks like a volcano, and there isn’t anything similar anywhere in the world, Devils Tower is not a volcano. Some theories claim that the tower was formed underground from molten rock (magma). After that, it was eventually pushed up on the surface and it became solid as time passed by. The formation of Devils Tower occurred some 50 million years ago.
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan
This is another amazing place on the Superior Lake coast, located east of the Apostle Islands. The park extends for 67 km along the coastline. The lakeshore offers some breathtaking landscapes filled with waterfalls, lush forests, natural arches and sand dunes. The name of the place comes from the mineral-stained sandstone cliffs. These contribute to the vibrant colorful scenery, especially in the autumn.
Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail, Tennessee
This is one of the most overlooked, hiking trails in the States. Literally anyone can be a photographer here because of the amazing scenery. Along the trail, you’ll also be able to see some breathtaking sights. One of those would be the biggest and fastest flowing mountain stream in the country. Another breathtaking sight is the rainbow over the Rainbow Falls, a breathtaking 80 ft tall waterfall.
Hamilton Pool Preserve, Texas
This magnificent piece of nature that was created when the dome of an underground river collapsed several thousand years ago. The pool is surrounded by limestone outcroppings. Over the limestones, the pool spills out creating a 50-foot waterfall. At the turn of the century, the transportation to the place was practically impossible. Only 5 people had access to it. Nowadays the pool reserve is slowly turning into a tourist attraction. However, there’s still a daily limit on the number of people who can be in the reserve.
Garden of the Gods, Colorado
This garden is a biological melting pot where the 3 million-year-old stunning red rock formations meet lush green forests. But that’s not all. This 5.5 square kilometers surface is actually home to five different ecosystems. These are: cottonwood-willow, prairie-grassland, mountain shrub, pinyon-juniper and ponderosa pine. Another reason to visit this marvellous place is the fact that it’s free of charge. The Garden of the Gods is free of entry, as the last wish of Charles Perkins, the owner of the land was forever to remain open to the public.
Blue Lakes, Colorado
These turquoise blue lakes are comfortably nestled in the breathtaking glacial circles of Mt Sneffels. Wilderness make the Blue Lakes Trail in Colorado one of the top hiking spots in the US. The journey to the top reveals some spectacular panoramic views of the incredible San Juan Mountain range. The best season to go for this hike is the autumn because of the vibrant colors. When I was there I saw only a few other people on the trail, and I believe this is one of the most underrated places in the US.
Fly Geyser, Nevada
The Fly Geyser was actually created accidentally back in 1961 during the drilling of an artesian well that wasn’t capped properly. The water coming out from the geyser actually comes out in different colors. This is as a result of different mineral deposits, such as Sulphur, Iron and algae. These vibrant colors and the unreal shape of the natural steaming spout make this place looks just came out of a fairytale. The well is located in Nevada. You probably know that large part of Nevada is a desert. You probably don’t know that Nevada has the highest geothermal potential among all states.
The Wave, Arizona
The Wave is a stunning natural rock formation made of eroded sandstone in Arizona. It’s believed to date back to the Jurassic period. Surprisingly, this place was relatively unknown until the 1990s. It was in the 1990s when the Wave started getting featured in travel brochures. The Wave has fragile edges that can lose their shape if a person steps on them. That’s why the maximum allowed number of daily visitors is 20, making it rather difficult to obtain a permit. The route through The Wave can be really confusing. Hence, wandering around by yourself isn’t recommended. Consider guided tour options. This way you can take most out of the experience without worrying about getting lost.
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Another breathtaking canyon, located South-East of The Wave is the Antelope Canyon. This is one of the most photographed ones in the world known for its smooth, wavy walls of sandstone. The name derives from the Pronghorn antelopes, which used to live in the canyon before it was discovered by the European expeditions. The Antelope Canyon today is only accessible via a guided tour that costs between $45 and $60 USD. The canyon has two separated sections, named as the Crack and the Corkscrew. The first one is much easier to access and therefore more visited, while the latter one is a lot harder to access. However, but it’s home to some of the most breathtaking sights on the planet.
Big Sur, California
The 90-mile long coastline has some of the most breathtaking views in the US, which makes this coastline an unforgettable one. The 85 miles of stunning scenery make Big Sur one of the ultimate road trips everyone should experience in their lifetime. Unfortunately, most of the highlights on the coastline make require state park admission+ an entrance fee. That’s why one could argue that Big Sur is a giant tourist trap. However, some of the sights, like the stunning McWay Falls and Pfeifer Beach are certainly worth it. If you’re travelling on a budget, getting off the beaten track is highly recommendable. Big Sur has a lot of hidden gems waiting to be discovered.
Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon
Located around 100 km east of Portland, Mount Hood National Forest extends across 90 km of forested mountains, lakes and breathtaking streams. Take a long walk deep in the forest and you’ll witness the magnificent sight of Tamanawas Falls. This wonder of nature thunders over a lava cliff in the eastern base of Mount Hood. If you’re into hiking, you can climb up the rocks above the falls for the most incredible view this place has to offer.
Thor’s Well, Oregon
Sitting on the edge of the Oregon Coast is Thor’s Well- a giant sinkhole that never appears to fill despite the stream of seawater that flows into it. This is certainly one of the biggest natural wonders I’ve seen. Even though it’s not bottomless it’s considered dangerous coming near it. Theories claim that the Well used to be a sea cave. At one point in time, it was dug out by the waves before the roof collapsed leaving open spots at the top and the bottom through which the ocean surges.
Fort Jefferson, California
Around 100 km from Key West lies the largest masonry structure in the western hemisphere. Fort Jefferson composed of 16 million bricks. The tropical beauty surrounding the lonely island fortress makes the place even more magical. The fort is still considered as unfinished, but the island is open to visitors. Fort Jefferson was formerly known as Devil’s Island. It was used for criminals of the Union Army and being sent here was considered to be a fate worse than death.
Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska
The Mendenhall Glacier is filled with crystal ice caves spreading over 21 km. The most amazing part of the glacier is definitely the ice caves lying beneath it. Waterfalls have carved huge turquoise-colored caves through the ice. This gives them an extraordinary shape and making them look surreal. The ice caves are accessible only by kayak. However, due to the constant melting, the caves have shrunk to one-third their original size. And today there are warnings not to access the caves because of the constant melting.