If you are an avid road tripper, then you probably already know that we are spoiled for scenery here in the United States. Indeed, there’s never a need to go too far (or too far out of the way) in order to see something absolutely spectacular! Keep scrolling for 30 stunning Natural Wonders in America that are totally worth visiting.
Acadia National Park
The state of Maine is a treasure trove for stunning natural beauty, but one especially notable wonder is the state’s Acadia National Park. Hike up Cadillac Mountain, the Atlantic Coast’s highest peak, and stick around for the next day’s sunrise. You’ll be the first person in the Eastern United States to see the sun come up. But don’t fret if you’re not a hiker. Simply driving along the park’s main roads will yield sights like wildlife, lush foliage, and views of the water.
19 States (and 4 Canadian Provinces)
Extending from Newfoundland in Canada to central Alabama, the Appalachian Mountains are undoubtedly one of America’s most amazing natural wonders. Things to see in the Appalachian Mountains range from small towns to epic mountain views. Perhaps most notable, however, are the hiking trails. More than 2 million people come from all over the world each year to hike part of the Appalachian Trail, a 2,200-mile-long stretch of trails through forest, small towns, and even some farms.
Arches National Park
Utah’s Arches National Park gets its name from the more than 2,000 natural stone arches that exist within its 77,000 acres. Indeed, it’s the largest collection of natural arches found anywhere on Earth. RVers and road trippers have lots of options when it comes to experiencing Arches National Park. A beautiful 18-mile winding road makes its way through the park, leading to myriad hiking and cycling trails. For those who prefer guided trips, there are lots of ranger-led tours from which to choose. And because Arches is so unique geologically, it’s no wonder rock climbing is also a popular sport here.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Western Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is home to some of the most unique rock formations found anywhere in the United States. These jagged looking cliffs have been formed by the Gunnison River over the course of more than two million years. Most people head here to hike myriad trails which can be found on the canyon’s north and south rims. If you have the time, take the trail down to the inner canyon for a truly unforgettable experience. Other activities for your Black Canyon of the Gunnison trip include fishing, kayaking, and wildlife viewing.
The Black Hills
South Dakota and Wyoming
The Black Hills is actually a mountain range, albeit a small one, located in western South Dakota and, to a smaller extent, Wyoming. The first thing road trippers are likely to notice is the unique shape and color of the area’s rock formations. As far as things to see and do here go, there’s plenty of both. Some of the Black Hills’ highlights include:
- the historic town of Deadwood
- Mount Rushmore National Memorial
- Custer State Park
- Devils Tower
- Wind Cave National Park.
Spoiler alert: Bryce Canyon isn’t actually a canyon. Known for its uniquely shaped “hoodoos” — towering limestone formations — Bryce Canyon offers a lot to road trippers and RVers looking for a beautiful place to stop. Check out the rock amphitheater for some of the best and most iconic views. If you’re into hiking, there are loads of trails from which to choose, including the Queens Garden Trail and the Navajo Loop Trail.
Texas and Louisiana
Located right on the border of Texas and Louisiana, the natural wonder that is Caddo Lake is a massive, 25,000-acre lake, bayou, and forest. Caddo Lake has enough to do for many days of fun. Forty-six different campsites are available, as are a few historical cabins for those who leave the RV at home. Fishing (there are more than 70 different species living in Caddo), canoeing, boating, and geocaching are all popular pastimes here. But visitors to Caddo Lake shouldn’t leave without taking a tour through the flooded cypress forest with its eery shrouds of Spanish moss.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park
New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park is made up of more than 100 individual caves of varying sizes. Because the caves are more than 265 million years old, they have quite a history. Native Americans were the first humans to find the caves, and used them for a variety of purposes. A variety of ranger-led tours are available to those who want to learn about the caves and explore them to different degrees.
Hike high enough, and you’ll see exactly why Crater Lake got its name. Located in the south-central part of Oregon, Crater Lake was formed nearly 8,000 years ago when a large volcano collapsed. Today, Crater Lake is one of Earth’s purest bodies of water because it is only fed by rain and melting snow. Interestingly, Crater Lake is also the deepest lake in the U.S., with a bottom that’s 1,943 feet below the surface.
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley is situated right between Las Vegas and Los Angeles, two popular road trip destinations. Therefore, there’s no excuse not to make a stop at this amazing natural wonder! Death Valley is stunningly beautiful, but one should be especially careful here. At 282 feet below sea level, Death Valley is the lowest — and hottest — place on the continent. It can get extremely hot here during the summer months. The highest temperature ever recorded was 134 degree Fahrenheit.
Denali National Park & Preserve
Alaska is quite the trip for an RV traveler, but it’s worth it! The state’s Denali National Park is home to Denali Peak, a massive, 20,310-foot summit that ranks as the tallest in all of North America. But even if you’re not the mountaineer type, this must-visit national park offers tons to see and do. Highlights include lakes, vast valleys, and lots of wildlife.
Everglades National Park
Everglades National Park covers a whopping 1.5 million acres of wetland on Florida’s southernmost tip. It’s best to visit during the time between April and November — the region’s wet season — when wildlife is teeming and park rangers offer a variety of interesting tours. Pick up a park permit at any one of the Everglades’ three entrances (Miami, Everglades City, or Homestead). Then keep your eyes peeled for endangered leatherback turtles, West Indian manatees, alligators, and other interesting forms of life.
Glacier National Park
There is a good reason why Glacier National Park is nicknamed the “Crown of the Continent.” Not only is it an outdoor adventurer’s dream location, it’s also one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. Myriad streams have their headwaters here, so there are a ton of lakes and other water features. Drive down the Going-to-the-Sun Road. Along the way you’ll run into the trailheads for more than 700 miles of trails. Hiking, fishing, boating, camping, and biking are all popular pastimes at Glacier National Park.
The Grand Canyon tops many people’s road trip bucket list, and for good reason. This iconic canyon stretches nearly 300 miles through Arizona, and there’s a ton to see and do along the way. The South Rim of the Grand Canyon is almost certainly the most popular area, and offers restaurants, campgrounds, and cabins. Travel to the West Rim if you’re brave enough to head out onto the glass-bottomed Skywalk. Lastly, the less-visited North Rim is ideal for anyone who wants to experience the one-of-a-kind place without the massive crowds.
Grand Teton National Park
Don’t forget to add Grand Teton National Park to your Wyoming itinerary! Technically a part of the Rocky Mountain range, the Grand Tetons are a unique cluster of instantly recognizable peaks. The national park which encapsulates the Tetons is full of activities for anyone who loves the outdoors. More than 200 miles of hiking trails wind their way through the park, with lots of opportunities for fishing, birdwatching, climbing, and boating. During the winter, snow lovers flock to Grand Teton National Park for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
When one thinks of giant sand dunes, it’s easy to think of places like Dubai, North Africa, and Namibia. But Colorado? Great Sand Dunes National Park is one of America’s best natural wonders, and a must-visit for any road trip itinerary. Considered the tallest sand dunes on the continent, these dunes stand as tall as 750 feet! Those brave — and strong — enough can trek to a dune’s summit in about five hours. Otherwise, this area is ideal for camping, sand sledding, and sand boarding.
Located just 20 miles from the bustling city of Austin, Texas is Hamilton Pool. This unique natural wonder is an emerald-green natural swimming pool, complete with its own 50-foot waterfall. Formed by the collapse of an underground river, Hamilton Pool is now a popular swimming hole. People road trip from much further than Austin to swim in this unique pool. As you plan your trip to Hamilton Pool, be aware that the swimming hole could close as bacteria levels reach a certain height. Also, the pool in the winter can get a bit chilly, and there is never a lifeguard on duty.
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Granted, you can’t drive your RV to Hawaii, but a trip to the islands is still worth the effort! On the Big Island of Hawaii, you’ll find Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Founded in 1916, this unique national park is home to two volcanoes: Mauna Loa and Kilauea. As you drive around the 11-mile Crater Rim Drive, you’ll find places where you can actually walk alongside lava trails. Keep your eyes peeled, too, for the rare flora and fauna that can be found in the park.
To be honest, we probably could have filled our list of the United States’ most amazing natural wonders with places in Alaska. As it stands, Hubbard Glacier stands out above the rest. Located in the easternmost part of the state, the glacier is one of the most beautiful and picturesque on the continent. The glacier is so massive it takes about 400 years for ice to track the glacier’s length. It’s a popular stopping point for cruises and other tours.
With a name like Mammoth Cave, you know this natural wonder has got to be huge! Indeed, Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave is the longest known cave system in the world. More than 450 miles of underground passageways have been discovered thus far, though scientists are sure they haven’t even explored the majority. A variety of tours are available, depending on your interests. On all tours, however, you’re bound to see fascinating displays of stalactites, stalagmites, and other unique geological formations.
Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota
The massive Mississippi River may be only the second longest river in North America, but its significance expands much further than just its size. American history is chock-full of references to the Mississippi, and even today, we routinely describe things as “east of” and “west of” the Mississippi. To experience the river in all its glory, head to any of the 10 states through which it flows. Cities like St. Louis, Memphis, New Orleans, and Minneapolis all offer traditional riverboat cruises.
Arizona and Utah
You’ve seen it in classic cowboy films of Old Hollywood, but if you make the trip, you can see it in real life, too! Monument Valley sits along the border of Arizona and Utah, and is full of sandstone buttes that tower as many as 1,000 feet above the desert. The valley, which is part of a Navajo tribal area, is a bit otherworldly. To gain a different perspective, leave the RV in the parking lot, and sign up for one of the many horseback riding tours that are offered.
Mount St. Helens
Mount St. Helens is a volcano located about 100 miles from Seattle. Part of the Cascade Range, Mount St. Helens made headlines on May 18, 1980 when it erupted and killed 57 people. Though Mount St. Helens remains active, it’s quite an interesting place to visit. Head to Windy Ridge Viewpoint for one of the best views of the mountain. While you’re there, check out Ape Cave, a two-mile-long lava tube through which visitors can safely walk.
Oregon is full of beautiful natural wonders, including Multnomah Falls. Towering an amazing 611 feet, Multnomah is the state’s tallest waterfall. It’s also one of the few waterfalls in the area that flows year round. Leave your RV in the parking lot, then walk a quick five minutes on a paved trail to Benson Bridge and one of the best views of the falls.
Though technically half of it is in Canada, Niagara Falls can still be considered one of the United States’ most amazing natural wonders. Consisting of three different falls — American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls — Niagara Falls is a stunning display of the power of water. Walk along Prospect Point Park to get a good view of American Falls, or walk (or drive) across the U.S./Canadian border to view these epic waterfalls from the other side. If you’re brave, and don’t mind getting a little wet, grab a ticket for the Maid of the Mist boat tour for the unique opportunity to ride right underneath the falls.
Redwood National & State Parks
A whopping 45% of the Earth’s redwood trees can be found in Redwood National and State Parks in California. Redwoods, which are the tallest trees in existence, cover many of the Golden State’s old-growth forests. You’ll have to leave the RV in the parking lot, because these majestic giants are best experienced on foot. Sign up for a ranger-led program (most frequent during the summer), or choose one of the more than 200 miles worth of trails through the park.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Though the Rocky Mountains stretch all the way into Canada, Colorado is the lucky state that gets to claim Rocky Mountain National Park as its own. Dozens of ski resorts exist throughout the Rockies, and skiing is the thing to do here in winter. In summer, though, Rocky Mountain National Park is the perfect addition to any road trip itinerary. More than 350 miles of hiking trails exist throughout the park, including those leading to Alberta Falls, Estes Cone, and Flattop Mountain.
Yellowstone National Park
Wyoming, Montana, & Idaho
Yellowstone National Park may just be the most famous national park in the world, and with more than 2.2 million acres to cover, it’s a dream destination for RVers and road trippers. Centered over the continent’s biggest supervolcano, Yellowstone’s unique geology means it’s home to some unique stuff. Half of the world’s geysers and other hydrothermal features are here, as are lava flows, hundreds of animal and bird species, and the oldest bison herd of any public location in the country.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is one of California’s most visited places, and for good reason! This stunning natural wonder is home to 10 massive waterfalls, open meadows, lush forests of oak and yellow pine, and glaciers dating back a whopping 30 million years. As you explore all that Yosemite as to offer, don’t forget to stop for a view of El Capitan, the largest monolith of exposed granite found anywhere in the world. Yosemite Falls, North America’s tallest waterfall at 2,425 feet, is also a must visit.
Zion National Park
As you’ve probably noticed by now, Utah is chock full of amazing natural wonders. One such wonder is Zion National Park, a unique geological area with dramatic sandstone cliffs, myriad waterfalls, and a vibrant red color everywhere you turn. As the most popular national park in Utah, Zion is packed with things to do. A free shuttle service will take you from your parked RV to the park’s interior. Once there, just a few highlights include:
- Zion Canyon
- the cliffs of Angel’s Landing
- Kolob Canyons
- the Emerald Pools.