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10 Most Beautiful Places in the United States

Getting a head start on planning your next big road trip? Then look no further! From the regal redwoods of the California coast to the magnificent mountains of the Shenandoah Valley, travelers from around the world weigh in on the United States must-see-sights.

1. Olympic Peninsula

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Tucked in the Northwest corner of the continental United States, Olympic National Park makes up most of Washington State's Olympic Peninsula. Though only spanning about 3,600 square miles, the Olympic Peninsula is famously home to a striking diversity of ecosystems.

The widely agreed upon the highlight of this region is the Hoh Rain Forest, one of the country's largest and most protected rainforests. Named for the Hoh River Valley, created by glaciers more than 15,000 years ago, the Hoh Rain Forest's most unique characteristic is the dense and luscious moss enveloping its towering trees.

One lifelong hiker recalls hiking the Hoh River Trail at 17 years old, calling it “absolutely devastatingly beautiful.”

2. Crater Lake National Park

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Like its northern neighbor, Oregon is championed for its amazingly vast array of breathtaking landscapes, from its mountains and forests to its beaches and valleys. However, despite this reputation for awe-inspiring views, there is perhaps none more otherworldly than that of Crater Lake.

Situated in southern Oregon's Cascade Mountains, Crater Lake was formed by a collapsed volcano that erupted nearly 8,000 years ago. The park's distinctive volcanic formations are best viewed on a ride along Rim Drive, a winding road that hugs the outer edges of the lake.

Originally called “Blue Lake,” Crater Lake's most captivating feature is water so deep and blue it almost appears purple. One visitor remarked, “When asked my favorite color, my answer is the blue of Crater Lake. There is nothing like it. It makes my eyes tingle.” Many insist this shade of blue can't be captured in photos, so it's one to ensure you see for yourself!

3. California Redwoods

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Several West Coast travelers compared California's redwood trees to the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls: They're something everyone should see in their lifetime and something you have to see to believe.

With trees as old as 2,000 years, Redwood National and State Parks are a collection of preservation areas along the Northern Californian coast aiming to protect and maintain the ancient redwoods. Visitors attest that the best way to experience these majestic giants is by driving along the whimsically-named Avenue of the Giants, a coastal highway engulfed in canopies of trees more than 300 feet tall.

The trees aren't the only giants this area is known for, though! The modern myth of Bigfoot originated in the redwoods region during the 1950s after a series of suspected sightings. Today, the redwoods' small town of Willow Creek is home to the largest Bigfoot Museum and several Bigfoot-inspired local holidays!

4. Glacier National Park

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National Park enthusiasts insist that Glacier is one of the most unjustly underrated parks in the National Park system. These experienced adventurers believe the park is much more difficult for novice hikers to explore and relatively isolated from other Montana attractions.

The park's most popular feature among beginners and experts alike is the famous “Going-to-the-Sun Road,” which can be navigated by foot, bike, or car. However, many of the road's best waterfalls can't be accessed by car, which makes traveling the road by bike the best way to experience the park's sublimity. One visitor remembered, “I locked myself out of my car on that road. Didn't mind at all.” 

5. The Red Rocks of Southwest USA

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While Arizona is the most well-known for its radiant red mountains, the phenomenon of the red rocks is a defining characteristic of several other southwestern states, including Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.

Those living in the southwest United States identify Sedona, Arizona; Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada; and Zion National Park in Utah as the most mind-blowing places to see a range of unique red rock formations. But be sure to bring your sunglasses! Even a typical sunny afternoon will ignite a red so brilliant it could irritate the naked eye.

6. Teton Mountain Range

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The Teton Mountains are a subrange of the Rocky Mountains that stretch through Wyoming. Those who visit the mountains, no matter the time of year, note that they are always most beautiful on a clear, sunny day. Many believe that the mountains were named by early French voyagers, as the word “Teton” in French translates to “nipple.” One traveler joked, “The locals told me on a clear day they say, ‘The teets are out!'”

7. Million Dollar Highway

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You don't have to watch The Amazing Race to see a Million Dollar Highway! This famous stretch of U.S. Route 550 in southern Colorado winds through the San Juan Mountains, suspended above magnificent canyons.

The 25-mile mountain pass connects the small towns of Silverton and Ouray and offers some of the best viewing and hiking opportunities in the San Juan range. Those looking to make a longer trip on the Million Dollar Highway can take detours to a string of ghost towns and abandoned cabins around the area.

8. Great Lakes of Northern Michigan

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At the center of the Great Lakes region, northern Michigan is bordered by the largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Superior. Travelers find many gorgeous coastal views, small mining towns, and opportunities to explore the shores of this fantastic state. Visitors can rent boats, walk the beaches, or hike the otherworldly Sleeping Bear Dunes!

9. Acadia National Park

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Nestled in a small Atlantic harbor, Acadia National Park comprises southeastern Maine's Mount Desert Island. Acadia provides both the transcendence of massive rock formations and mountain peaks and the charm of a coastal New England town.

Visitors recommend camping on the island or renting cabins along the bay to ensure the most stunning views. With New England being notorious for exquisite autumns, Acadia's brilliant fall landscapes are unparalleled. An avid hiker said of the park, “I've been hiking as long as I can remember, and Acadia is what I imagine heaven looks like for hikers.”

10. Shenandoah Valley

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The Blue Ridge Mountains frame Shenandoah Valley to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west. Striking views of the valley from above can be seen from various points along Skyline Drive, a scenic highway running through Shenandoah National Park.

Within the park, hiking trails allow you to descend the mountains towards lakes and waterfalls or climb the mountains to reach even more stunning views of the valley and surrounding farmlands. Make sure to stop in the park's Visitors Center to grab a map of all the local wineries and breweries!

Whether it's hiking, fishing, bird watching, camping, or a glass of wine with a view, Shenandoah Valley has something for everyone!

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Jamie Myre
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