The American West has long been a favorite destination of vacationing Americans and visitors from all over the world. It’s no surprise since the natural beauty spans an expansive area of land. But with so much to see, how do you pick the best things to explore? Here’s your guide to nine unique adventures you won’t want to miss in the American West.
Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Alaska is larger than Texas, and features the highest mountain peak in the United States at 20,320 feet – Mount McKinley. You’ll find it in Denali National Park and Preserve, and you can take advantage of an Alaska tour guide to get the most out of your trip.
Mount St. Helens, Washington
Everyone is fascinated by volcanoes, and Mt. St. Helens is the place to go to learn about and see the devastation and beauty these giants are responsible for. Its last major eruption was in May of 1980, and now visitors experience exhibits, hikes, and views while awaiting its next outburst.
Yellowstone National Park, Montana & Wyoming
Yellowstone features 2,219,791 acres of protected outdoors and wildlife – fitting for the first national park in the world. The most popular attractions include the Old Faithful Geyser, the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Hayden Valley, Mammoth Hot Springs, and Yellowstone Lake.
Crater Lake, Oregon
Tucked away in southern Oregon, Crater Lake is one of the most memorable views you’ll find in all of the United States. Formed almost 8,000 years ago when Mount Mazama collapsed, the lake is notorious for its stunning deep-blue color.
Yosemite National Park, California
Specifically, Yosemite Valley. This is where breathtaking granite cliffs (like the famous Half Dome granite cliff above) help form a picturesque valley. Renowned for its recreation and rock climbing, Yosemite is a can’t-miss stop.
The Grand Canyon, Arizona
The Grand Canyon could easily be considered a symbol of the American West thanks to its majestic vastness. After all, it is considered one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Colorado River flows through its 277 miles.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Another canyon? Well, not exactly. Bryce Canyon National Park is described by the National Park Service as “a series of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters.” But like the Grand Canyon, there are multitudes of photography opportunities here and at Zion National Park to the southwest.
The Redwood Forests, California
Have you ever wanted to drive through a tree? It’s possible in the Redwood National and State Parks in northern California. Once almost clear-cut in the 1800’s and early 1900’s, the Redwood Forests are now protected and preserve rare ecosystems. Oh, and the trees – they’re enormous: Coast redwoods can be taller than 300 feet with diameters of more than 20 feet.
Death Valley National Park, California & Nevada
East of the Sierra Nevada mountain range is the largest national park in the lower 48 states. And inside it is the lowest point in all of North America – Badwater Basin. At 282 feet below sea level, Badwater Basin features salt flats that cover almost 200 square miles.
This post was written by Bryden McGrath, a freelance journalist and photographer, blogger, and recent college graduate from Seattle.