15 of America’s Most Beautiful Natural Wonders
There are hundreds of beautiful, naturally created sites around the globe. Sadly, we often overlook some of the sites located closest to home – in our own backyards. If you’re a United States citizen you should definitely consider checking out some of America’s most incredible natural wonders.
15. City of Rocks
Located in Idaho, the City of Rocks is probably the only “city” in existence without any living inhabitants. Believed to be over 2.5 billion years old the now deserted ground was once a favorite stop for wagon trains of settlers heading towards California. Now it’s the ultimate destination for rock climbers.
14. Barringer Crater
Scientists believe that this 4,000 foot wide, 600 foot deep crater may have been created by the impact of a meteor striking the earth more than 50,000 years ago. Barringer, for whom the crater is currently named, was the first person to suggest that the crater may have been caused by a meteorite.
13. Two Ocean Pass
Two Ocean Pass, located in Wyoming, is the only place in the country where a tributary breaks off into two directions – one towards the Pacific Ocean and the other towards the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. If a fish followed this path he could swim from one side of the country to the other.
12. Fisher Towers
The beautifully sculpted Fisher Towers in Utah are the result of many years of rain and wind. Today, standing proudly along the horizon, the towers are a favorite destination for climbers – especially those looking to conquer the stunning “corkscrew summit.”
11. The Lost Sea
Take a trip to Sweetwater, Tennessee and you may not notice anything out of the ordinary. That’s because the Lost Sea, considered part of the Craighead Cavern system, is actually underground. The Lost Sea is the second largest underground lake in the entire world.
10. Grand Canyon
Massive and expansive, the Grand Canyon is the byproduct of millions of years of evolution. The canyon is more than 300 miles long and can, in places, plunge as far as 1 mile deep.
9. Redwood Forests
The Redwood Forests can be found up and down the west coast of the United States, beginning in Big Sur and rising as far as the border of Oregon. Coastal redwood trees can grow to be more than 300 feet tall. Redwood tree forests were severely damaged by industry and expansion and most of the remaining forests are now protected by federal law.
8. Niagara Falls
You can technically see Niagara Falls from both the United States and Canada. Either way, these amazing falls are considered the most powerful on the continent. The falls make the perfect backdrop for a romantic wedding, generate tons of hydroelectric power, and apparently draw dozens of daredevils for jumps each year.
7. Great Salt Lake
The Great Salt Lake, located in Utah, spans over more than 2,500 square miles. Once incorrectly believed to be an extension of the Pacific Ocean, the Great Salt Lake is the largest saltwater body of water in the Western Hemisphere. The shoreline constantly changes, making it difficult to develop nearby areas but at the same time making the surrounding wetlands one of safest and most hospitable destinations in the country for migratory birds.
6. The Everglades
The Florida Everglades, often described as a “river of grass,” make up thousands of miles of Florida wetlands. The incredible sub-tropical atmosphere makes the Everglades the perfect setting for distinct biodiversity, housing alligators, crocodiles, panthers, snakes, and a myriad of other incredible wildlife species.
5. Mammoth Cave
Mammoth Cave National Park, located in central Kentucky, spans across more than 50,000 acres – underground, that is. The park is considered a World Heritage site and its 365 miles of passageways make it the longest cave system in the world.
4. Mt. Kilauea
Mount Kilauea, located in Hawaii, is believed to explode whenever the goddess Pele becomes upset. Kilauea has been the most active volcano in the world for the past 30 years, steadily oozing lava into the Pacific since 1983.
3. Mt. McKinley
Located 20, 320 feet above sea level, Mount McKinley is the highest peak in North America. Located in Denali National Park in Alaska, only 50% of the climbers who attempt to reach the peak make it all the way to the top.
2. Death Valley
Despite its chilling name, Death Valley National Park in California and Nevada attracts thousands of curious visitors each year. During the summer months the temperatures here can skyrocket to well over 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Pack plenty of extra water, make sure your gas tank is full, bring a map, and make sure a park ranger knows you’re entering the valley before you leave.
1. Old Faithful
An old favorite, Old Faithful is one of the most visited sites in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful spouts boiling water as high as 185 feet into the air every 90 minutes. Sometimes eruptions happen after only 45 minutes and occasionally they can be a long as 2 hours apart. No matter what amount of time she takes, you are guaranteed to see at least one eruption during your visit.
Each of these sites is the product of millions of years of natural erosion and change. Visit each, take plenty of pictures, and – please – don’t leave behind any mark of your visit.