The Great American Experience is all about discovering the unknown, the beautiful, and the surreal, which is why we thought we’d put together this list of places you probably never knew existed in this cultural behemoth. From Alaska to Hawaii, New York To New Mexico, add these unknown wonders to your 2017 bucket list immediately.
1. Skagit Valley Tulip Fields, Washington
Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the tulip fields between April 1–30 to see these gorgeous flowers bloom in Washington State.
2. Haiku Stairs of Oahu, Hawaii
The so-called “Stairway to Heaven” is a steep hiking trail that is, contrary to popular belief, actually closed to the public. But many people still continue to climb it despite the “No Trespassing” signs—#forthegram.
3. Watkins Glen State Park, New York
Forget Niagara Falls. Nestled in the Finger Lakes region of New York State lies a fantasy-like world called Rainbow Falls. As you can see, it’s just like Narnia.
4. Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Denali National Park and Preserve encompasses a staggering six million acres of Alaska’s epic wilderness. Its crown jewel is the 20,310 ft. (704m)-high Denali, North America’s tallest mountain peak. The park is home to all sorts of indigenous wildlife including grizzly bears, wolves, moose, caribou, and Dall sheep.
5. Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness, Colorado
This stunning slice of Mother Nature is located deep in the Elk Mountains of Central Colorado. Home to over 100 miles of walking and hiking trails, the closest city in reach of this otherworldly wilderness is Aspen. Oh, and the entire area spans over 181,000 acres (73,248ha)—mouth drop.
6. Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming
This natural pool of rainbow-like colors is the largest hot spring in the U.S. and the third largest in the world.
7. Zion National Park, Utah
Just outside Springdale, Utah, this incredible 146,000-acre (59,084ha) park attracts nature junkies from all over the globe. Most popular site? The 15 mile (24.1km) -long by a half-mile (86.4m) deep Zion Canyon.
8. Mendenhall Glacier Caves, Alaska
This place was created Insta-ready. Juneau’s glittering Mendenhall Valley is a 12-mile (19.3km) glacier that hides some very surreal ice caves. Follow the West Glacier trail for a chance to see the whimsical ice clouds for yourself.
9. Thor’s Well, Oregon
Sorry guys, you won’t find Chris Hemsworth here. Travel along Cape Perpetua and you’ll stumble on Thor’s Well, a saltwater fountain thing of beauty, which is driven by the power of the ocean tide. Best time to see it in action? An hour before high tide to an hour after high tide.
10. Antelope Canyon, Arizona
This brilliant slot canyon is split into two different sections, commonly referred to as “The Crack” and “The Corkscrew.” The natural canvas of color is just magnificent. One for the Snapchat?
11. Oneonta Gorge, Oregon
The Oneonta Gorge is home to a very unique set of aquatic and woodland plants—some of which you won’t find anywhere else in the U.S. As you can see, the ferns and moss make the walls look like something out of a page of Thumbelina’s book.
12. Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
There’s a total of 119 known caves, formed entirely from limestone and sulfuric acid, awaiting discovery in this rocky New Mexico paradise.
13. Bryce Canyon, Utah
This alien-looking collection of large natural amphitheaters is famous for its hoodoos (tall, thin spires of rock) and geological structures formed by frosty weather and stream erosion.
14. Great Smoky Mountains, North Carolina–Tennessee
A subrange of the Appalachian Mountains, the Smokies are a massive mountain range crisscrossing the North Carolina–Tennessee border. With nine million-plus visitors per year, it’s the U.S.’s most visited national park.
15. Nā Pali Coast State Park, Hawaii
The Na Pali Coast is probably the only U.S. National Park that’s inaccessible by car. There’s good news, however, as the best way to see it is by helicopter!
Love finding new places? Check out these 16 amazing places you probably never knew existed in the UK!