Megan Bryant is a passionate writer and traveler who has combined her two loves to help others fulfill their traveling dreams. When she isn’t writing, she’s usually curled up with her 3 Dachshunds and a good book or planning her next adventure—wherever that may be.
America is home to so many beautiful landscapes and landmarks—some far more popular than others. If you’re an avid traveler, then you’ll know that visiting areas that tourists frequent often kind of ruins the experience. I mean, looking at a monument, mountain, or canyon is so much better when there is no one else around, isn’t it?
But, thanks to America’s sheer size, there are plenty of hidden gems to explore in every corner of the country. If you’re looking for your next adventure, you’ll want to check out these breathtaking, underrated, and off-the-beaten-track destinations.
Baxter State Park, Maine
At the northern end of the Appalachian Trail lies the Baxter State Park—a large wilderness area home to Mount Katahdin. Mount Katahdin is the tallest peak in Maine, and the park offers impeccable uninterrupted views of the mountain that you won’t find elsewhere.
For experienced hikers searching for a skill-testing trail, then the Knife Edge Trail will be right up your alley. With steep drop-offs and a total elevation gain of over 3,000 feet, only those with the right attitude—and equipment—will succeed.
Come fall, when the leaves on the trees change beautiful shades of red, brown, yellow, and orange, the reflection of Mount Katahdin on lakes throughout the park is a sight not to be missed.
Devils Tower, Wyoming
Devils Tower is a sacred place for Native Americans, and in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed the natural landmark as the first national monument.
Many people may see it as just another steep rock, but Devils Tower is the only one of its kind. Experts haven’t yet discovered how the rock formed or exactly what it’s made of. And standing at 867 feet, it’s hard to disagree that the butte is truly mesmerizing.
With 8 miles of trails to explore around the monument, it should definitely be on your US bucket list—especially if you enjoy hiking or rock climbing.
Anna Maria Island, Florida
Anna Maria Island on Florida’s Gulf Coast is every beach lover’s dream. With calm turquoise waters, soft white sand, and beach house rentals in abundance, it’s easy to get caught up in the island life.
And even if you don’t like to kick back on the beach, there are other activities that Anna Maria Island has to offer—so many, in fact, that you’ll be tempted to extend your trip.
From dolphin watching and snorkeling to paddle boarding and strolls through the island’s quaint cities, there really is something for everyone to enjoy.
Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska
Soon enough, glaciers will be a thing of the past. But for now, we’re lucky enough to still have the opportunity to marvel at the colossal blocks of ice.
Mendenhall Glacier in Alaska stretches for 13 miles and sits amongst some of Alaska’s unspoiled and untouched landscapes. Although the glacier is the star of the show, the area surrounding the accumulation of ice makes the trip to Juneau even more worthwhile.
With waterfalls, forests, and lakes, as well as the possibility to see bears that Alaska is famous for, the Mendenhall Glacier is a unique and bucket list-worthy destination for those in search of something different.
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
The Smith Rock State Park in Oregon is the birthplace of American rock climbing. And with just one look at the rugged landscape, it is no wonder why.
Despite the fact that the Smith Rock State Park is best known among climbers, hiking, wildlife spotting, and kayaking are also popular in the rocky mountain terrain.
When you think of Hawaii, the islands of O’ahu, Kauai, and Lanai probably spring to mind, and although they’re all beautiful in their own way, they have nothing on the smaller island of Molokai.
Molokai is home to untouched landscapes, authentic Hawaiian culture, and awe-inspiring reefs, waterfalls, and sea cliffs. It was even the birthplace of Hula, which dates back over 1,000 years ago.
Because the island of Molokai isn’t overrun by tourism, you get a true Hawaiian experience alongside palm trees, the ocean, and the locals who call Molokai home.
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Have you ever wanted to jump on a boogie board and sail down sand dunes? If you answered no, then just one look at the Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado will change your mind.
Offering sandboarding, hiking, swimming, and stargazing amongst the unique landscape’s dunes, mountains, creeks, and forests, the Great Sand Dunes National Park is every adventurist’s dream.
Channel Islands National Park, California
One of the least visited national parks in the United States is the Channel Islands National Park in California. But just because not many people choose to visit it, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.
The five islands that make up the park, along with the ocean surrounding them, have a wealth of unique animals and plants that you won’t see anywhere else.
Snorkel and kayak in the oceans, hike the park’s trails and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. This national park definitely deserves more recognition than it’s given.
Watkins Glen State Park, New York
If you’re ever in need of a break from the city, then look no further than Watkins Glen State Park in upstate New York. Known for its natural beauty, waterfalls, gorges, and manageable hiking trails, the Watkins Glen State Park is the perfect afternoon—or weekend-long—destination for New Yorkers and tourists alike.
White Sands National Park, New Mexico
One of the most underrated, unique, and beautiful hidden gems in America is the White Sands National Park in New Mexico. With miles and miles of white sand dunes and a mountainous backdrop far out in the distance, this natural wonder will truly make you feel like you’ve been teleported to another planet.
11 Day Trips From Reno: Desert Stops For Everyone To Enjoy
Are you planning a day trip from Reno, Nevada, and looking for some exciting options? Look no further than this article, which highlights the best day trips from Reno. There’s something for everyone, from skiing in Mount Rose to relaxing in Steamboat Hot Springs. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains and beyond!
Fly-Fishing, Skiing, Hiking, and Much More: 10 Montana Vacation Spots
Looking for an outdoor adventure in Big Sky Country? Look no further than this article, which highlights the top vacation spots in Montana. From Yellowstone National Park’s famous geysers to Glacier National Park’s breathtaking scenery, and Bozeman’s skiing and whitewater rafting, there’s something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable trip to Montana’s beautiful wilderness, abundant animal life, and incredible national parks.
Best 16 Utah Vacation Spots
If you’re looking for a vacation spot that offers breathtaking natural scenery and exciting outdoor adventures, then Utah is the place to be! This article highlights the top places to visit in Utah, from the stunning Zion National Park to the unique Homestead Crater. Whether you’re interested in hiking, skiing, or simply soaking in a hot spring, Utah has something for everyone. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the diverse and awe-inspiring landscapes of Utah!
10 National Parks To Skip If You Have Young Children
If you’re planning a national park trip with young children, this article is a must-read! Discover the top 10 national parks to skip if you have young children, from the rugged terrain of Denali National Park to the limited access to Isle Royale National Park. Learn about the challenges and potential dangers of visiting these parks with young children and plan your trip accordingly for a safe and enjoyable experience.