Sometimes it’s hard to comprehend just how diverse the landscape of the USA is, when you compare it to our beautiful, but vast Australia. And while the land Down Under is beautiful in its own way, the USA has some seriously jaw-dropping sights. Here are six to explore for a dose of fresh air, mighty mountains and wide-open spaces.
Pacific Northwest (Washington & Oregon)
A road trip from Portland to Seattle will take you to spectacular places like the Columbia River Gorge – where you’ll find Multnomah Falls. Oregon is also home to Cannon Beach – where the iconic Goonies film was shot; and the incredible Crater Lake National Park. Further north, head to like the San Juan Islands, where you can go whale watching to spot orcas, humpback whales, porpoises and sea lions!
Nevada is obvious: The Grand Canyon. More than a mile deep (1.6km) and 16km wide, it’s not difficult to see why this is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. This isn’t the only reason to fly into the bright lights of Las Vegas though. Hit the road across the border to Arizona and you’ll end up in Monument Valley, then Arches National Park in Utah.
You might have heard of Highway 1, but do you know why it’s so famous? This drive along the Californian coastline between Los Angeles and San Francisco is renown because it takes you from the beaches of Malibu through the wine country of Santa Barbara, and along the rugged coastline of Monterey and the famous Bixby Bridge to San Francisco.
Head inland and California’s landscape is completely different again. Yosemite National Park is famous for its stunning rocky mountains, Joshua Tree is a vast desert landscape, while north of San Francisco sequoia (redwood) forests are home to some of the tallest trees in the world.
When a chain of islands is formed by a still very active volcano, you come to expect some interesting landscapes. The variety in the Hawaiian Islands though, is surprising. The oldest of the islands, Kauai, is where you’ll find the grand canyon of the Pacific: Waimea Canyon, and the often-photographed Na Pali Coast. On Maui there’s both cinder cones and dense rainforest in the Haleakala Crater, and the rainforest drive of the Road to Hana.
The Big Island, the youngest in the chain, however is vastly different, thanks to its active volcanoes. You can drive through fields of cooled lava and climb inside lava tubes, see where the lava spills into the sea, and of course, head to the top of the Volcanoes National Park to see inside a crater!
This rugged state in the American Mid-West packs a punch on the natural wonder charts. There’s the wide-open spaces of the Great Sand Dunes National Park; Rocky Mountain National Park which spans the Continental Divide with its towering peaks; and the ancient cliff dwellings and other archaeological sites of the Mesa Verde. Not to mention this is an outdoor sports mecca, so towns like Bolder and Denver are a hoot to visit.
If wildlife is what you’re looking for, then Wyoming will not disappoint. Home to both the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, Wyoming boasts an array of impressive wildlife from grizzly bears and wolves to bison, moose, mountain lions, elk, deer and more. Yellowstone – the first national park in the United States, is situated on top of a super volcano, which means it’s also home to impressive geothermal features like geysers, mud pots and travertines. Not to mention the peaks of the Grand Tetons are some of the most uniquely recognisable, making them a popular photography subject.