Photo: Theerapat Chawannakul/Shutterstock

18 Natural Wonders of the US That Will Inspire Your Next Road Trip

United States National Parks Insider Guides Galleries
by Hal Amen May 27, 2010

I’VE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH to have traveled to some amazing places around the world over the last 10 years: Bolivia, Papua New Guinea, South Korea, Mongolia, Jordan, and the list goes on. But I’m not exaggerating in the least when I say that some of my favorite trips have taken place here in the US — typically behind the wheel of my car, on a lonely state highway.

America is just massive. At 3.8 million square miles, it’s three times larger than all the countries listed above combined. So it’s kind of a given that our country would be home to spectacular deserts, mountain ranges, volcanic features, ancient forests, waterfalls, canyons, glaciers, caves, and swamps. But that fact doesn’t diminish the awesomeness of these places.

As spring approaches, my wife and I can’t wait for our next opportunity to hop into our little Mazda with the dog and go find a spot we haven’t been to yet in our thousands of miles of driving around this country that keeps on giving. Hope to see you out there.

1. Death Valley, CA

natural wonders of the US

Photo: Dan Sedran/Shutterstock

A section of the Mojave Desert, Death Valley is the lowest, driest, hottest place in North America.

2. Kilauea, HI

Natural wonders of the US

Photo: Yvonne Baur/Shutterstock

Kilauea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, sends streams of lava steaming into the Pacific Ocean.

3. Monument Valley, UT


The sandstone buttes of Monument Valley stand like towers in the Four Corners region of the Western US.

4. Niagara Falls, NY

Niagara Falls

Photo: anderm/Shutterstock

The tourist vessel “Maid of the Mist IV” does a float-by of the American Falls.

5. Redwoods, CA

natural wonders of the US

Photo: Virrage Images/Shutterstock

The tallest trees on the planet hide out in a few remaining tracts of Northern California’s old-growth coastal forests.

6. Grand Canyon, AZ

Grand canyon

Photo: Anton Foltin/Shutterstock

A mile down from the canyon’s rim, the Colorado River is still cutting.

7. Mammoth Cave, KY

natural wonders of the US

Photo: rukawajung/Shutterstock

Mammoth Cave National Park protects a portion of the longest known cave system in the world.

8. Florida Everglades

5 styles of adventure in Florida

Photo: Simon Dannhauer/Shutterstock

The Everglades are a 60-mile-wide, super-slow-moving subtropical river covering the tip of Florida.

9. Hubbard Glacier, AK

natural wonders of the US

Photo: Luis Boucault/Shutterstock

Where Hubbard Glacier meets the sea, its 6-mile-wide face calves huge blocks of ice.

10. Black Hills, SD

Photo: HTurner/Shutterstock

Harney Peak (pictured at top), within the Black Hills National Forest, is the highest east of the Rockies.

11. The Mississippi

Photo: Joe Ferrer/Shutterstock

This monster river system drains 31 US states and is the fourth longest in the world.

12. Bryce Canyon, UT

12 short road trip routes that take in the best of America, natural wonders of the US

Photo: Filip Fuxa/Shutterstock

Bryce can be more accurately described as an immense eroded amphitheater, populated with hoodoos (pictured at middle).

13. Mt. Desert Island, ME

Photo: Tyler Wenzel/Shutterstock

The island is protected by Acadia National Park and is all rocky shoreline and crumbly mountain woodland.

14. Crater Lake, OR

natural wonders of the US

Photo: Theerapat Chawannakul/Shutterstock

Collapsed volcano, now a deep blue lake in southern Oregon.

15. Arches, UT

Photo: Anthony Heflin/Shutterstock

The national park preserves land that’s home to over 2,000 of these weathered sandstone arches.

16. Yosemite Valley, CA

Yosemite, natural wonders of the US

Photo: Sopotnicki/Shutterstock

Looking down the Yosemite Valley, you can see Bridalveil Falls and the granite cliff of Half Dome in the distance.


17. Carlsbad Caverns, NM

Walkway through the Big Room, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico

Photo: Doug Meek/Shutterstock

The caverns’ “Big Room” is the third largest cave chamber in North America.

18. Old Faithful, WY

Old Faithful Geyser Eruption in Yellowstone National Park at Sunset

Photo: Razak.R/Shutterstock

This geyser in Yellowstone National Park erupts a 140-foot spout of water at regular 45- to 120-minute intervals. 


The open road. That’s what it’s all about. Driving down long stretches of asphalt, pulling over at a local diner for some grub, and discovering the most incredible roadside wonders. Roadtrippers is a simple but powerful road trip planner that helps you discover, plan, & book your adventure.

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