Top 30 most magical destinations in the US
Top 30 most magical destinations in the US

From sea to shining sea, there are so many unique places in the United States. Whether you’re into snow-capped mountains, raging waterfalls, lush woodlands, or otherworldly deserts, the US has got you covered with its countless beautiful and bucket list-worthy places.

With the pandemic stifling travel abroad, 2021 looks like it will be a year of road trips and local travel. What better way to spend this spring, summer, and fall than by doing cool road trips around the US?

Take a look at these 30 most magical and beautiful destinations that you can visit in theUS.

The list of top 30 most magical destinations in the United States

30. Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers; Borrego Springs, California

29. Delicate Arch; Moab, Utah

28. Tunnel View; Yosemite National Park, California

27. Seven Magic Mountains; Las Vegas, Nevada

26. Badlands National Park; Interior, South Dakota

25. The Wave; Coyote Buttes, Utah-Arizona

24. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; Canyon Village, Wyoming

23. Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve; Arco, Idaho

22. Sun Valley, Idaho

21. Snoqualmie Falls; Snoqualmie, Washington

20. Blue Mesa; Petrified Forest, Arizona

19. Badwater Basin; Death Valley, California

18. Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico

17. Guadalupe Mountains National Park; Salt Flat, Texas

16. Pope Farm Conservancy; Middletown, Wisconsin

15. Glory Hole Falls; Ozone, Arkansas

14. Redwood Regional Park; Oakland, California

13. Coastal Dune Lakes; Walton County, Florida

12. Santa Elena Canyon; Big Bend National Park, Texas

11. Antelope Canyon; Page, Arizona

10. Rainbow Bridge and Falls; Watkins Glen State Park, New York

9. Zion Canyon; Springdale, Utah

8. Multnomah Falls; Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

7. Haleakalā National Park; Maui, Hawaii

6. Niagara Falls; Niagara Falls, New York

5. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; Lake Superior, Wisconsin

4. Cannon Beach; Cannon Beach, Oregon

3. Mount Rainier; Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

2. Glacier National Park; Columbia Falls, Montana

1. White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad; Beginning in Skagway, Alaska

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What are the top 30 most magical destinations in the United States?

30. Anza-Borrego Desert Wildflowers; Borrego Springs, California

Photo: Los Angeles Magazine
Photo: Los Angeles Magazine

The ecologists from Colorado Desert District of California State Parks do not expect to have an overabundance, or a big abundant wildflower-bloom this year. Although the area has seen a few precipitation events and even a few mornings with snowy mountains since January, this past year has been a ‘relatively’ dry year for the desert. Our average temps are up over the high-end threshold that we would expect to see loads of vegetative growth, and the rain amount has been too low to help in any abundance of growth. Overall, we will see some spotty or localized areas of bloom, many of which will be unpredictable. As we have not had region-wide rain showers, many small areas will see regionally specific blooms that often will last a short time, sometimes less than a week.

As this happens, the earlier the Borrego Springs region sees high temperatures in the year, the quicker the flowers disappear after they bloom.

Small areas of blooms are now being seen throughout the Park. We need more rain to have a “Superbloom”, but if you’re willing to venture away from paved roads, you’ll be rewarded with small patches of flowers.

29. Delicate Arch; Moab, Utah

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

People come from all over the world to visit Arches National Park, and visiting Delicate Arch is on the top of many visitors' to-do lists. In a park with over 2,000 stone arches, this particular free-standing arch has become a widely recognized symbol of the state of Utah and one of the most famous geologic features in the world.

The light opening beneath the arch is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide, making it the largest free-standing arch in the park. It has had more than a few names in its history, from the colorful ("Cowboy's Chaps", "Old Maid's Bloomers") to the prosaic ("Salt Wash Arch"). The term "Delicate" first appeared in a January 1934 article about the Arches National Monument Scientific Expedition, which described it as "the most delicately chiseled arch in the entire area."

28. Tunnel View; Yosemite National Park, California

Photo: TripAdvisor
Photo: TripAdvisor

The view that Ansel Adams made famous, Tunnel View is a must stop for any first time visit to Yosemite Valley. Find it just outside the Wawona Tunnel on State Highway 41. No hiking is required, you simply park at one of the lots and make your way to the vista. This spot can be very popular in summer, so try to arrive early.

From this vista you can see El Capitan, Half Dome, and Bridalveil Fall. This vista changes with each season to show something new but the best times to see Tunnel View are early spring (when Bridalveil Fall is at peak flow) and winter, when the beautiful granite domes are draped in snow and mist.

27. Seven Magic Mountains; Las Vegas, Nevada

Photo: Conde Nast Traveler
Photo: Conde Nast Traveler

Hey, what can we say? Nevada is an inspiring place. Renowned Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone certainly felt the magic of Nevada’s mighty Mojave when creating his public land art installation in cooperation with the Nevada Museum of Art and Art Production Fund, building seven three-story, day-glo towers sourced from the surrounding desert. The location is exactly what Rondinone was looking for, physically and symbolically between the natural and artificial—the natural expressed by mountain ranges and Jean Dry Lake, and the artificial represented by nearby I-15 and the constant flow of traffic between Los Angeles and Vegas.

A completely perfect day trip off the Strip, pack the camera and head for Seven Magic Mountains. While you’re in the area, check out Goodsprings Ghost Town and the legendary Pioneer Saloon (and Hollywood elite Clark Gable and Carole Lombard’s connection to the place). You can also hit the dirt with miles-and-miles of OHV routes in the area, and be back in Vegas in time to make your spa treatment, tee time, or Cirque show. And if this is just the beginning of your open air galleries discoveries? Get the lowdown on others in the area along the Free-Range Art Highway.

26. Badlands National Park; Interior, South Dakota

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Badlands National Park is an American national park located in southwestern South Dakota. The park protects 242,756 acres (379.3 sq mi; 982.4 km2) of sharply eroded buttes and pinnacles, along with the largest undisturbed mixed grass prairie in the United States. The National Park Service manages the park, with the South Unit being co-managed with the Oglala Lakota tribe.

The Badlands Wilderness protects 64,144 acres (100.2 sq mi; 259.6 km2) of the park as a designated wilderness area, and is one site where the black-footed ferret, one of the most endangered mammals in the world, was reintroduced to the wild. The South Unit, or Stronghold District, includes sites of 1890s Ghost Dances, a former United States Air Force bomb and gunnery range, and Red Shirt Table, the park's highest point at 3,340 feet (1,020 m).

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25. The Wave; Coyote Buttes, Utah-Arizona

Photo: Traveling Mom
Photo: Traveling Mom

Mother nature is usually pretty cagey about her creative process. She wants us to believe all the earth’s features are just coincidental products of natural processes.

But she tipped her hand when she made the Wave, just across the Arizona border. It’s a little too down-the-middle, beauty-wise, with its baroque bands of red, pink, yellow and white Navajo sandstone arcing precipitously up, down and around ancient stone chutes. A little over-designed if she’s trying to maintain an air of indifference.

The Wave is the common point on the map where world’s geologists, psychedelics, couples taking engagement photos and Victor Vasarely groupies get together and try to keep their mouths closed. It’s like a hurricane, freeze-framed. If you forget your camera, no one will believe you.

24. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone; Canyon Village, Wyoming

Photo: Full Suitcase
Photo: Full Suitcase

The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is the first large canyon on the Yellowstone River downstream from Yellowstone Falls in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. The canyon is approximately 24 miles (39 km) long, between 800 and 1,200 ft (240 and 370 m) deep and from .25 to .75 mi (0.40 to 1.21 km) wide.

23. Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve; Arco, Idaho

Photo: Visit Idaho
Photo: Visit Idaho

Step away from expectations and into the mystical terrain of the Moon. Observe iconic wildlife and camp out under the stars.

Explore the wonderfully weird landscape formed by molten lava fields nearly 15 million years ago. Discover Craters of the Moon’s awe-inspiring geological history.

One of four national parks in Idaho, President Calvin Coolidge created Craters of the Moon National Monument on May 2, 1924.

The monument preserves around 53,500 acres of volcanic formations and lava flows on the northern rim of the Snake River Plain in southcentral Idaho. A desolate yet sublime landscape that could only be described as "weird," the monument has never failed to inspire, if not evoke ambivalent responses from even its most ardent supporters left speechless by the unusual lava terrain.

Craters of the Moon is a huge national park. It is over 1,100 square miles (over 750,000 acres) which is roughly the size of Rhode Island. The young lava flows that make up the bulk of the Monument and Preserve can clearly be seen from space.

22. Sun Valley, Idaho

Photo: Eater
Photo: Eater

Sun Valley is a resort city in Blaine County, Idaho, United States. The resort is adjacent to the city of Ketchum and within the greater Wood River valley. The population was 1,406 at the 2010 census, down from 1,427 in 2000. The elevation of Sun Valley (at the Lodge) is 5,920 feet (1,805 m) above sea level. Scheduled passenger airline service is available via the Friedman Memorial Airport located in nearby Hailey, approximately 15 miles (25 km) south. Visitors to Sun Valley are relatively close to the Sawtooth National Recreation Area, accessed over Galena Summit on State Highway 75, the Sawtooth Scenic Byway.

Among skiers, the term "Sun Valley" refers to the alpine ski area, which consists of Bald Mountain, the main ski mountain adjacent to Ketchum. Dollar Mountain, which is adjacent to Sun Valley, is suited for novice and lower intermediate skiers. Bald Mountain, or "Baldy," has a summit of 9,150 feet (2,790 m) and a vertical drop of 3,400 feet (1,035 m).

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21. Snoqualmie Falls; Snoqualmie, Washington

Photo: Wikipedia
Photo: Wikipedia

One of Washington State's most popular scenic attractions, Snoqualmie Falls is a 270 foot waterfall surrounded by a two-acre park, with an observation deck, gift shop, and the Salish Lodge. This is by far the most famous waterfall in Washington, receiving more visitors than almost any other single natural feature in the state. There are several very good views all along the gorge rim, and there is a steep 1/2 mile trail to the base of the falls. During high water, the falls take on a Curtain form. There are two ways to get to the falls; the first is as follows. Drive east on I-90 to the signed exit to Snoqualmie Falls, and follow the road to Highway 202 in North Bend. Turn west on 202 and proceed to the falls, which are very well marked (the route from 90 to the falls may be signed all the way, but I'm not sure). The second way is drive east from Redmond along Highway 202 to Fall City, then cross the Snoqualmie River and proceed along 202 to the signed park and Falls in another 2.5 miles. Walk about 50 feet from the parking lot to the vista house.

20. Blue Mesa; Petrified Forest, Arizona

Photo: Scenic USA
Photo: Scenic USA

This relatively easy, paved path into the heart of the otherworldly Blue Mesa member of the Chinle rock formation. Walk through and around badlands that look like strange melted ice cream, and spot chunks of petrified wood all along the ground.If you spend any time in the Colorado Plateau, you’re going to eventually become familiar with the Chinle Formation. A rock layer deposited more than 200 million years ago, the Chinle Formation is visible in many of the region’s southern badlands. Back then, the region was full of rivers that carried water northwest toward a large, shallow sea, leaving sand, silt and mud behind. Many of these layers give the Painted Desert its distinctive colors — and the layer known as the Blue Mesa Member is the second-oldest of these layers.

Laid down between 220 and 225 million years ago, the Blue Mesa Member is full of mud and sandstones that range from a distinctive blue-gray to green and even purple … and the best place to get up close and personal with this layer is right here at the Blue Mesa Trailhead.

19. Badwater Basin; Death Valley, California

Photo: More than just Parks
Photo: More than just Parks

The low, salty pool at Badwater, just beside the main park road 18 miles south of Furnace Creek, is probably the best known and most visited place in Death Valley. The actual lowest point (-282 feet) is located several miles from the road and is not easily accessible - in fact its position varies, but a sign in front of the pool proclaims it too to have an elevation of -282 feet, and it is here that everyone comes to take photographs. An enlarged parking area and other new facilities were constructed in fall 2003 to cope with the ever increasing visitor numbers at the site.

18. Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness, New Mexico

The Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a 45,000-acre (18,000 ha) wilderness area located in San Juan County in the U.S. state of New Mexico. Established in 1984, the Wilderness is a desolate area of steeply eroded badlands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, with the exception of three parcels of private Navajo land within its boundaries. The John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed March 12, 2019, expanded the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness by approximately 2,250 acres.

Translated from the Navajo word Bistahí, Bisti means "among the adobe formations." De-Na-Zin, from Navajo Dééł Náázíní, translates as "Standing Crane." Petroglyphs of cranes have been found south of the Wilderness. It is on the Trails of the Ancients Byway, one of the designated New Mexico Scenic Byways.

17. Guadalupe Mountains National Park; Salt Flat, Texas

Photo: San Antonio Current
Photo: San Antonio Current

Guadalupe Peak is the highest point in Texas, and below it lies a park that offers striking natural beauty, winding trails through serene forests, captivating local history, and the world’s most extensive Permian fossil reef.

Explore deserts and dunes, canyons and mountains, diverse flora and fauna, and much more at Guadalupe Mountains National Park. Campers, hikers, and thrill-seekers welcome.

These mountains have seen quite a bit of activity over the last 10,000 years. Early hunter-gathering people lived in the area’s many caves, and later the Mescalero Apaches discovered game hunting opportunities on the land. Artifacts that reflect their time here—such as agave roasting pits—can still be located throughout the region. At the nearby Frijole Ranch you’ll find a small museum that tells the story of comings and goings, conflicts and conquests, and everything that led up to the making of a national park on this incredible mountain range.

Guadalupe Mountains National Park is a must-visit destination for hikers, with more than 80 miles of trails winding from woodland canyons to lush springs. Experienced trekkers can access the more rugged parts of the park via steep switchbacks that zigzag up the mountains, where once-in-a-lifetime photo-ops await.

16. Pope Farm Conservancy; Middletown, Wisconsin

Photo: The Nature Conservancy
Photo: The Nature Conservancy

Pope Farm Conservancy is 105 acres that sits on top of three recessional moraines in the Town of Middleton where three different watersheds come together. A 360 degree panoramic view of Lake Mendota, the Capitol and Madison’s west side can be seen to the east, the Black Earth Creek valley to the North, and the terminal moraine to the South and West. Six different Prairie Restoration projects and seven different crops including a field of sunflowers provide tremendous synergy that attracts wildlife to the conservancy. Forty interpretive signs follow the historical aspects of the land. They start with the Glaciers and land formation, followed by the Native Americans, settlers, the CCC project in the 1930’s, to today’s methods of erosion control. These features and their interpretation have resulted in making Pope Farm an educational conservancy.

The Native American garden is designed to educate the public about the remarkable contribution made by the Native Americans to agriculture. Many of the features of the land are taught as part of local fourth grade curriculum, which has resulted in many lesson plans and field trips. All of this, combined with eight miles of walking trails and picnic areas provide the visitor with an unforgettable experience.

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15. Glory Hole Falls; Ozone, Arkansas

Photo: Secret World
Photo: Secret World

This has to be the one of the most unique waterfalls in all the Ozarks. Dismal Creek has literally drilled a hole right through an overhanging bluff. Most times of the year, it is nothing more than a trickle, but after some good rain, this is something spectacular. It is also quite a sight in the winter when the waterfall becomes frozen!

This waterfall is located in the Ozark National Forest, between Fallsville and Edwards Junction, south of Boxley Valley. To get to the parking spot, travel East out of Fallsville on AR Hwy 16/21 for 5.7 miles. You will pass a large red barn that has a big, white "E" painted on the side of it. Go ½ mile past this barn, and you will see a pull off on the Right side of the road, opposite from a house up on a hill. (If you have come to the Cassville Baptist Church, you've gone 0.7 miles too far.) You can also get here from Edwards Junction, by traveling West on AR Hwy 16/21 for 2.3 miles, which would make it 0.7 miles past the Cassville Baptist Church. Then, you will Turn Left across from the house up on the hill.

14. Redwood Regional Park; Oakland, California

Photo: She Explores
Photo: She Explores

A hidden redwood forest lies off Redwood Road just a few miles over the ridge from downtown Oakland. The forest's peaceful groves give little evidence of the park's bustling past – in the mid-1800s the area was the scene of extensive logging to supply building materials for the San Francisco Bay Area. The logging era has long since passed, and a stately forest of 150-foot coast redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens) has replaced those cut down.

In 2019, the park was renamed in honor of Dr. Aurelia Henry Reinhardt, president of Mills College. Dr. Reinhardt was one of five prominent civic leaders elected to the Park District’s first Board of Directors in 1934.

13. Coastal Dune Lakes; Walton County, Florida

Nestled between the sugar-white sand dunes along South Walton's beach are some of the rarest and most spectacular natural features the area has to offer: coastal dune lakes. They're found in only a few places on earth: New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar and the U.S. – and even in the same location, one coastal dune lake can vary drastically from its neighbors.

What's so important about them? In South Walton, there are 15 coastal dune lakes dotted throughout the local landscape, and they're some of the most ecologically impactful and interesting features of the area. They're critically important to the coast because they store and filter water, and they also serve as a habitat for a unique mix of plants and animals. Without them, that mix of flora and fauna might not exist. Further, they provide a transition from saltwater to freshwater environments.

12. Santa Elena Canyon; Big Bend National Park, Texas

Photo: San Antonio Magazine
Photo: San Antonio Magazine

Santa Elena Canyon, downstream, is the most popular overnight or three day trip, not only because the put-in and take-out are easily accessed by car, but because it is often considered the most dramatically beautiful. Santa Elena has the tallest cliffs forming the canyon wall—up to 1,500 feet.

The first 13 meandering miles from the put-in at Lajitas give you a good look at the contrast between the riparian and desert ecosystem. The river becomes more technical in the last seven miles when you have entered the actual canyon. Two miles into the canyon, the largest rapid, the Rock Slide is classified as a Class IV rapid at certain water levels.

An enjoyable day trip consists of paddling upstream, from the Santa Elena Canyon Trailhead, a few miles into the canyon, and then returning back downstream (also known as a "boomerang" trip). If the water level is low, you do not have to fight the current much going upstream, making this trip quite leisurely. It is an ideal trip if you only have one vehicle, or if you do not want to pay for a shuttle back to your starting point. A backcountry use permit is required for all river trips; no fee is charged for day-use trips.

11. Antelope Canyon; Page, Arizona

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Few geological formations are as picturesque and awe-inspiring as Antelope Canyon, a magnificent slot canyon just east of Page in Northern Arizona. With tall winding walls, it’s a monumental sandstone sculpture. A photographer’s dream, the canyon is known for its wave-like structure and the light beams that shine directly down into the openings of the canyon, creating a supernatural appearance.

Antelope Canyon is the product of millions of years of water erosion. In fact, the Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is “Tse' bighanilini,” which means "the place where water runs through rocks." Once home to herds of pronghorn antelope, the canyon now lies within the LeChee Chapter of the Navajo Nation, and draws nature-lovers near and far for its remarkable, mysterious beauty. The canyon walls climb 120 feet above the stream bed, making it a cathedral of red-hued, swirling sandstone.

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10. Rainbow Bridge and Falls; Watkins Glen State Park, New York

Photo: World Atlas
Photo: World Atlas

Watkins Glen State Park is in the village of Watkins Glen, south of Seneca Lake in Schuyler County in New York's Finger Lakes region. The park's lower part is near the village, while the upper part is open woodland. It was opened to the public in 1863 and was privately run as a tourist resort until 1906, when it was purchased by New York State. Initially known as Watkins Glen State Reservation, the park was first managed by the American Scenic and Historic Preservation Society before being turned over to full state control in 1911. Since 1924, it has been managed by the Finger Lakes Region of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The centerpiece of the 778-acre (3.15 km2) park is a 400-foot-deep (120 m) narrow gorge cut through rock by a stream—Glen Creek—that was left hanging when glaciers of the Ice age deepened the Seneca valley, increasing the tributary stream gradient to create rapids and waterfalls wherever there were layers of hard rock. The area's rocks are sedimentary of Devonian age, part of a dissected plateau that was uplifted with little faulting or distortion. They consist mostly of soft shales, with some layers of harder sandstone and limestone.

9. Zion Canyon; Springdale, Utah

Photo: Mariott
Photo: Mariott

Nearly 3 million people come annually to visit Zion National Park. Springdale plays host to many of these visitors in the hotels, bed and breakfasts, shops and restaurants. As you plan to visit Zion, please take a look at the information in the links at left regarding the shuttle system that operates in Zion and Springdale.

Springdale is centrally located to several National Parks including Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, Cedar Breaks, Pipe Spring and Lake Powell. It makes the perfect place to "base camp" for a few days to explore the region.

8. Multnomah Falls; Columbia River Gorge, Oregon

Photo: Gray Line
Photo: Gray Line

In a state where water regularly flows down from upon high, Multnomah Falls — all 620 feet (189 m) of it — stands above the rest as Oregon’s tallest waterfall.

Located just 30 miles (48 km) east of downtown Portland along the Historic Columbia River Highway, the two-drop cascade attracts visitors of all types and ages, with both wheelchair-accessible viewing platforms and steep hiking trails that lead all the way to the top. Fed by rainwater and snowmelt, the falls’ steady stream runs year-round, making it a year-round attraction. The highest volume comes in winter and spring, and the waterfall sometimes freezes partially at the height of winter.

7. Haleakalā National Park; Maui, Hawaii

Photo: Travel + Leisure
Photo: Travel + Leisure

This special place vibrates with stories of ancient and modern Hawaiian culture and protects the bond between the land and its people. The park also cares for endangered species, some of which exist nowhere else. Come visit this special place - renew your spirit amid stark volcanic landscapes and sub-tropical rain forest with an unforgettable hike through the backcountry.

Towering over the island of Maui and visible from just about any point, Haleakala Crater is a force of nature in every sense. At 10,023 feet above sea level, this dormant volcano is the stage for a breathtaking range of landscapes—and skyscapes. Haleakala means "house of the sun" in Hawaiian, and legend goes that the demigod Maui lassoed the sun from its journey across the sky as he stood on the volcano’s summit, slowing its descent to make the day last longer.

6. Niagara Falls; Niagara Falls, New York

Photo: PlanetWare
Photo: PlanetWare

Niagara Falls is a city in Niagara County, New York, United States. As of the 2020 census, the city had a total population of 48,671. It is adjacent to the Niagara River, across from the city of Niagara Falls, Ontario, and named after the famed Niagara Falls which they share. The city is within the Buffalo–Niagara Falls Metropolitan Statistical Area and the Western New York region.

While the city was formerly occupied by Native Americans, Europeans who migrated to the Niagara Falls in the mid-17th century began to open businesses and develop infrastructure. Later in the 18th and 19th centuries, scientists and businessmen began harnessing the power of the Niagara River for electricity and the city began to attract manufacturers and other businesses drawn by the promise of inexpensive hydroelectric power. After the 1960s, however, the city and region witnessed an economic decline, following an attempt at urban renewal under then Mayor Lackey. Consistent with the rest of the Rust Belt as industries left the city, old line affluent families relocated to nearby suburbs and out of town.

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5. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore; Lake Superior, Wisconsin

Photo: Los Angeles Times
Photo: Los Angeles Times

Along windswept beaches and sandstone cliffs, visitors experience where water meets land and sky, culture meets culture, and past meets present. The 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland coast host a unique blend of cultural and natural resources.Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has more lighthouses than any other site in the National Park System with 9 historic towers on 6 islands. More than 240 species of birds breed in and/or migrate through this archipelago.

Visitors can hike, paddle, sail, or cruise to experience these jewels of Lake Superior. Clear water, underwater rock formations, and fascinating shipwrecks combine to provide outstanding scuba diving opportunities. Camping is available on 19 of the lakeshore’s 21 islands and at one campsite on the mainland. The park offers hiking opportunities on more than 50 miles of maintained trails in the park. The Lakeshore Trail on the mainland extends about five miles from Meyers Beach past clifftop overlooks of the mainland sea caves. Island trails provide access to lighthouses, abandoned quarries, old farm sites, historic logging and commercial fishing camps, beaches, campsites, and scenic overlooks.

4. Cannon Beach; Cannon Beach, Oregon

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Cannon Beach is a city in Clatsop County, Oregon, United States. The population was 1,690 at the 2010 census. Cannon Beach is a popular coastal tourist destination in Oregon, famous for Haystack Rock, a 235 ft (72 m) sea stack that juts out along the Pacific Coast. In 2013, National Geographic listed Cannon Beach as "one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places."

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 1.54 square miles (3.99 km2), all land. The Tolovana Park neighborhood is south of the downtown core, adjacent to Tolovana Beach State Recreation Site.

3. Mount Rainier; Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Photo: Britannica
Photo: Britannica

Mount Rainier National Park, with 236,381 un-spoiled acres, was established in 1899, 17 years before the National Park Service was formed, making it one of the oldest in the nation.

The namesake snowy crag at the center of the park is so famous, in fact, that it has been emblazoned on the Washington state license plate. The 14,410-foot peak is an active volcano, but it’s monitored so closely that visitors can breathe easy about roaming its foothills.

The Paradise visitor area, located 5,400 feet up the mountain’s south side and the park’s most popular destination, is aptly named. Nestled in high alpine meadows, it affords views of Rainier’s peak from so close, it’s easy to imagine that you can just reach out and touch it. Trails crisscross the meadows and overlook the Nisqually Glacier that feeds the river of the same name. Climbers aiming for the glacier-gilded peak depart from these very trailheads. Of the more than 10,000 people who attempt a summit every year, only about 5,000 make it to the top.

2. Glacier National Park; Columbia Falls, Montana

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Columbia Falls is a vibrant, family-friendly community at the gateway to Glacier National Park. The town averages about 4,800 year-round residents and is located only 14 miles from the western entrance to Glacier National Park.

Columbia Falls is nestled up against the northern tip of the Swan Mountain Range and the beautiful Flathead River, (popular for fishing, floating and swimming), flows through the east end of town.

Columbia Falls offers numerous options for outdoor recreation including fishing, river floats, hiking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, hunting, swimming, tennis, golf and more. In fact Columbia Falls is the home of one of the most popular golf resorts in the area, Meadow Lake Golf Resort.

1. White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad; Beginning in Skagway, Alaska

Photo: Alaska
Photo: Alaska

After gold was discovered near Dawson City in Canada’s Yukon Territory in 1896, the Alaska communities of Skagway and Dyea became the jumping off point between the ice-free port at Skagway and the Klondike gold country to the north for more than 40,000 gold-rush prospectors. There were two routes to the Yukon River and the promise of gold: the steep “Golden Stairs” of the 33-mile Chilkoot Trail, or the 40-mile long, but less steep, White Pass trail. Two men with the idea of building a railroad along the White Pass route, Sir Thomas Tancrede and Michael J. Heney, met by chance in Skagway and the White Pass & Yukon Railroad Company was organized in April of 1898.

While Tancrede represented investors in London and was somewhat skeptical about building a railroad over the Coastal Mountains, Heney was an experienced railroad contractor and bragged, “Give me enough dynamite and snoose and I’ll build a railroad to Hell.”

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