One of the largest countries in the world, the United States boast dazzling and delightful scenery, with dramatic coastlines, lovely lakes, and desolate desert landscapes.
Between the Rockies in the west and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the east are all kinds of natural and human-made wonders, as well as some of the best and most beautiful national parks in the world.
One of the best ways to see America’ most beautiful destinations is to take an unforgettable road trip, stopping off at its most famous and photographed sights as you go.
Number 25. Bonneville Salt Flats
The largest and loveliest of Utah’s many salt flats, Bonneville’s desert landscapes are all that remain of what was once a vast prehistoric lake. Set in the northwest of the state, the sparkling salt flats stretch endlessly into the distance, reflecting the bright blue skies above.
As such, there are loads of great photo opportunities here, of mighty mountains rising above the flats’ shimmering salt surface. The Bonneville Salt Flats also hosts a number of land speed events during the year, where racers compete to break various records.
Number 24. Badlands
As bewitching as they are beautiful, the Badlands are a breathtaking part of South Dakota full of fantastical formations, colourful canyons and all kinds of otherworldly landscapes.
Formed millennia ago by the roaring wind and rain, the rugged terrain is captivating to gaze upon; the remains of petrified plants and sharply eroded buttes, pinnacles and spires rise from the ground. Only adding to the enchanting scene are the kaleidoscopic colours that paint the land a rainbow of pastel hues. The most majestic of its many incredible sights lie in the Badlands National Park.
Number 23. Martha’s Vineyard
Lying just to the south of Cape Cod, the magnificent Martha’s Vineyard has long been popular with the rich and famous. Despite the wealth of artists, celebrities, musicians, and presidents who vacation here, New England’s largest island has a lovely laidback air, with pretty and picturesque scenery to discover. Dotted about the quaint countryside are small towns and villages full of cosy inns, boutique hotels, and exquisite restaurants, while scenic beaches line its shores.
Besides its fine dining and relaxing retreats, there are also many excellent outdoor activities to partake in, including cycling and golfing.
Number 22. Niagara Falls
Lying on the border between Canada and the USA, Niagara Falls is one of the most famous and recognisable waterfalls on Earth. Consisting of American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls, its endless wall of gushing water seemingly stretches on forever.
While the various observation decks around the falls offer up fantastic views and panoramas, you really need to take a boat trip below them to fully grasp just how large and powerful they are. Niagara Falls never fails to astound, and every year, millions of people come to see its staggering size and beauty.
Number 21. Bryce Canyon
Dominating and defining the national park of the same name, Bryce Canyon is one of the States’ most extraordinary natural wonders.
Located in the southwest of Utah, the astounding array of amphitheatres line the edge of a plateau. Eroded over the millennia by the elements, its limestone landscapes are home to fascinating rock formations, crumbling canyons, and all kinds of startling shapes and spires known as hoodoos. In addition, elk, black bears, and mountain coyotes can be spied from time to time around its magnificent moonscapes, which are painted in soft and sandy sunset tones.
Number 20. Glacier Bay
Boasting stunning, snow-capped mountains, fabulous fjords, and iceberg-dotted coves, Glacier Bay is one of the most wild and remote regions of Alaska. Set in the southeast of the sparsely populated state, the beautiful bay and its gigantic, glimmering glaciers are protected as part of a national park and preserve. Besides its mighty mountains and irresistible icy landscapes, there is plenty of wonderful wildlife, such as porpoises and humpback whales.
While most people visit the park on a cruise ship, hardy adventurers can camp in its icy confines or try their hand at kayaking and mountaineering.
Number 19. Big Sur
Located between the Carmel Highlands and San Simeon, Big Sur is a large, rocky stretch of the Californian Coastline. Although it doesn’t have any official boundaries, it lines around 70 miles of the California’s famous Highway One. The area is a magnet for travelers on road trips, who are attracted by the towering redwood trees and breathtaking beaches along the route.
More than just beautiful scenery for driving through, the area also provides plenty of top hiking opportunities which wind their way through the several state parks encompassed by Big Sur.
Number 18. Antelope Canyon
Located just to the east of Page, the attractive and awe-inspiring Antelope Canyon lies in the north of Arizona, not far from Lake Powell. Meandering magically through desolate landscapes, the spectacular slot canyon is a photographer’s dream: its sandstone walls appear to flow like water.
Made up of two separate sections known as ‘The Crack’ and ‘The Corkscrew’, its captivating corridors and chasms are often beautifully bathed in brilliant beams of light, enhancing its soft tones and shapes.
A very popular place, Antelope Canyon can only be visited as part of a guided tour as it lies within a Navajo Tribal Park.
Number 17. Blue Ridge Parkway
Famed for its incredible scenery and nature, Blue Ridge Parkway snakes for 755 kilometres along the spine of the mountain chain after which it is named. Stretching from Virginia to North Carolina, the scenic route passes through verdant forests that hide twinkling streams and waterfalls.
There are also some quaint towns and villages, such as Boone and Roanoke, for you to stop at. The most popular part of the National Park System, Blue Ridge Parkway is also blessed with magnificent mountain vistas, with divine views wherever you go.
Number 16. Arches National Park
Located within Utah’s Canyon Country is Arches National Park, home to more than two thousand natural sandstone arches.
Formed over the millennia by wind and water, these extraordinary rock formations are found everywhere around the park’s desolate confines. While they all make for some fabulous photos, the most famous are the long and graceful Landscape Arch, the dainty Delicate Arch, and Double Arch’s pretty and prominent pair. An unforgettable place to visit, Arches National Park is a treat to explore, whether on foot or by bike.
Number 15. Multnomah Falls
Cascading down two rugged cliffs and surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty, Multnomah Falls makes for an arresting sight. Due to its outstanding beauty, it is one of the most visited natural recreation areas in the Pacific Northwest.
It is located just outside of Portland in the state of Oregon. For the best views and photos of the waterfall, visitors can cross a small footbridge across the lower cascades or hike along a scenic trail to its observation deck, which provides splendid panoramas.
Number 14. Golden Gate Bridge
The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge spanning the Golden Gate, the strait between San Francisco and Marin County to the north. The bridge took four years to build, and was completed in 1937. The Golden Gate Bridge was the longest suspension bridge span in the world when it was completed, and has become an internationally recognized symbol of California.
The famous red-orange color of the bridge was specifically chosen to make the bridge more easily visible through the thick fog that frequently shrouds the bridge.
Number 13. Savannah
Home to one of the largest historic districts in the States, Savannah lies on the banks of the river of the same name, just 30 kilometres inland from the Atlantic Ocean.
Long an important port, it was Georgia’s first city and capital, established in 1733. Thankfully, it still proudly showcases its storied past, with centuries-old buildings, monuments, and landmarks lining its cobbled streets and pretty, parklike squares.
Besides its attractive architecture and well-preserved buildings, Savannah is also noted for its excellent dining and nightlife scene.
Number 12. Florida Keys
Strung out to the south of the Sunshine State, the Florida Keys are a beautiful archipelago that lie between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Connected to the mainland by the Overseas Highway, the collection of coral cay islands numbers around 1,700, with many untouched and uninhabited.
While some are ideal for rest and relaxation, others are home to raucous party scenes. Very popular with holidaymakers and retirees, the keys are famed for their sunny climes, tropical beauty, and wealth of recreational and entertainment opportunities.
Number 11. Glacier National Park
Lying on the border with Canada, the gorgeous Glacier National Park sprawls over a huge swathe of Montana and boasts delightful, dramatic scenery.
Established in 1910, the park protects diverse ecosystems and countless species of fauna and flora. Within its confines, you can find picturesque parts of two mountain ranges, with more than 130 glimmering lakes and plunging waterfalls dotted about the glacier scarred landscapes.
Due to all the lovely nature and epic wilderness, hiking around Glacier National Park’s scenic trails is a treat: grizzly bears and golden eagles can sometimes be spied here and there.
Number 10. Sedona
While the jaw-dropping red sandstone formations are the undoubted highlight of what Sedona has to offer, there is lots more to see and do. Nestled amid the beautiful rock formations, Sedona is considered sacred by Native Americans and people come here to heal themselves and seek spiritual enlightenment.
There are many shops selling alternative medicines and lots of spas for visitors to relax in. With lots of great restaurants, as well as numerous art galleries to explore, the town can get a bit busy during summer, although the stunning scenery more than makes up for it.
Number 9. Great Sand Dunes
Stretching endlessly into the distance, the sensational sea of sand that makes up Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes is one of the state’s most incredible natural phenomena. Reaching up to 230 metres in height, the dramatic dunes lie within a national park of the same name. Exploring the wind-sculpted sands is a fantastic experience, with hiking and sandboarding both popular. You can discover magnificent views from atop of the massive dunes.
From high, you can gaze out over the ceaseless sands around you, with mighty mountains and verdant forests dotting the horizon.
Number 8. Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe is not only impressive for being the second deepest lake in the US, but also for its wide length of shoreline which offers fantastic natural vistas. The freshwater lake straddles both California and Nevada and is a top destination year round.
The lake became a winter sports destination after the 1960s Winter Olympics were held in Squaw Valley on the North Shore. Summer brings hiking in the mountains and boat trips on the lake, as well as days spent lazing on the shore, swimming, and BBQs.
Number 7. Monument Valley
Iconic in look, Monument Valley’s incredible geological features have starred in TV commercials, featured in films and appeared in magazine ads.
As such, they are instantly recognizable around the world.
Surrounded by a desolate and featureless desert that stretches almost interminably, the massive sandstone buttes rear impressively towards the heavens, their vivid reds, and oranges standing out against the blue sky. Beautiful to behold, the ‘Valley Between the Rocks’ – as it was dubbed by the Navajo – is a must-see place when visiting Arizona.
Number 6. Grand Teton National Park
Home to marvellous mountains, sweeping valleys, and sparkling alpine lakes, Grand Teton National Park will delight nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Located in the northwest of Wyoming, the park covers a vast swathe of the Rocky Mountains and is named after Grand Teton, the highest peak in the range at 4,199 metres. The dramatic landscapes are stunning, and the glinting glaciers, verdant forests, and gushing rivers lend themselves perfectly to all kinds of activities, such as hiking and rock climbing. The national park is a great place to go wildlife watching, as elk, bears, and moose roam amid the splendid nature.
Number 5. Nā Pali Coast
Dominating and defining the northwest of Kaua’i, the Na Pali Coast is one of Hawaii’s most famous and photographed sights. Its gigantic jagged cliffs rise to 1,200 metres above the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean, with scenic beaches and coves hidden below.
As the rugged terrain is so inaccessible, the only way to visit is by hiking, kayaking, or helicopter, with phenomenal panoramas wherever you look. While it is famed for having featured in Jurassic Park, the grand and gorgeous stretch of coastline has appeared in numerous films and TV shows over the years.
Number 4. Yosemite Valley
The most popular and photographed part of Yosemite National Park, this vast valley lies at its heart, nestled among the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Covered in pristine pine forests, the glorious glacial valley stretches around 12 kilometres in length and is lined by gigantic granite summits, such as the famed El Capitan and Half Dome. A multitude of sparkling streams and waterfalls flow into it including the famous Yosemite Falls.
Breathtakingly beautiful, Yosemite Valley has loads of lovely hiking trails for visitors to wander along, with striking views wherever you look.
Number 3. Manhattan
Manhattan is one of New York’s five boroughs and is what people most often think of when they picture New York City. It’s familiar skyline and sights have been featured a thousand times on screen.
Here you can walk in the shadow of the skyscrapers, picture the Statue of Liberty, see a Broadway show , climb the Empire State building, stroll Central Park, window shop on 5th Avenue or stagger around a museum.
Number 2. Horseshoe Bend
Located just outside of Page, the awe-inspiring Horseshoe Bend lies within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in the north of Arizona. Formed over the millennia by the Colorado River, it is named for its distinctive horseshoe-shape, which sees craggy cliffs curve around the roaring river below.
Horseshoe Bend is very popular among tourists and many people hike the short distance to its prominent viewpoint. Towering more than 300 metres above the river, this offers stunning views of the natural marvel, with sunset being the best time of day to view Horseshoe Bend in all its glory.
Number 1. Grand Prismatic Spring
Famed and named for its kaleidoscopic colours, Grand Prismatic Spring lies in Yellowstone National Park, not far from other pretty pools and gushing geysers.
Remarkably, it is the third-largest hot spring in the world, reaching 110 metres in diameter and 50 metres in depth. While its size and scale are impressive, it is most noted for its captivating colours, with reds, oranges, yellows, greens, and blues all on show.
These vivid hues make for a dazzling sight, particularly when contrasted with the desolate landscapes surrounding the steaming spring..