Grand Canyon, Arizona
With a colossal, billion-dollar, Vegas-style development possibly in the pipeline for the eastern edge of the Grand Canyon National Park, there’s a chance that the region’s rugged landscape will be beset by tourists in the future. That means 2015 is the perfect time to come and case out this wonder of the Colorado River; between the ancient Navajo hunting grounds and the geological majesties of the Vermilion Cliffs.
The Florida Keys, Florida
With oodles of domestic flight connections from low-cost fliers like JetBlue and Spirit now connecting various US cities with Miami (the gateway to the Keys), this string of paradisiacal islands has never been more accessible. Expect an abundance of aquamarine waters and sun-drenched beaches, all enfolded by wild mangroves, tropical palms and calypso bars to boot.
There’s no question that laid back little Bend has been on the up for some years now. It touts a booming craft beer scene with some of the best micro-breweries in all of the United States and a picture-perfect position on the edge of the Eastern Cascades Slopes and Foothills eco-region, which means countless hiking trails through hemlock forests and up snow-dabbed peaks besides.
Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Straddling the border between the states of Nevada and California, this shimmering mass of deep blue is awash with skiing pistes and snow-dotted mountain summits by winter, and clusters of brilliant yachts, lakeside cafés and verdant forests by summer: America’s answer to postcard-perfect Lake Bled and a veritable gem of a holidaying destination for lovers of the great outdoors.
Custer State Park, South Dakota
With a collection of campsites set between dense pine forests, on the edges of Custer Park’s lakes and in the shadow of the rising Black Hills, this one is a great place for holiday-makers looking to go into the wild this year. What’s more, the area will play host to the 50th annual Buffalo Roundup in 2015, when lasso-slingers are charged with herding the 500 beasts that roam the plains of South Dakota here.
Hawaii Island, Hawaii
Not only is the Aloha State’s largest island home to shimmering Pacific beachfronts like Kahalu and Makalawena, but it’s also got the mighty rises of the Volcanoes National Park at its centre, where the brooding peak of Kilauea continues to bubble and sporadically burst forth lava into the air. Now that’s a show of beauty to kick-off 2015 if there ever was one!
Asheville, North Carolina
Encompassed on all sides by the rolling, hazy silhouettes of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the city of Asheville is the perfect stop off for travellers making their way along the course of the Appalachian Trail. It’s also a fantastic spot for holidaying folk, offering oodles of hiking, biking and rafting routes in the hills around town, and a wholesome array of craft beer dives, theaters and galleries.
Fargo, North Dakota
While the town of Fargo officially sits across the state border in North Dakota, most people who head here this year will probably associate it with Minnesota, all thanks to FX’s hit 2014 TV series of the same name! Of course, the surrounding area is wonderfully beautiful, with sites like the Chippewa National Forest and Lake Superior both nearby.
San Antonio, Texas
Having just enjoyed a huge investment to the tune of $350 million, the iconic San Antonio River Walk is now booming once again. It winds its way right through the heart of this Texan town, offering up pretty waterside views, metropolitan parks and fascinating cultural institutions like the Briscoe Western Art Museum along the way.
Acadia National Park, Maine
Beautiful Sand Beach edges its way up to the deep azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean; the rocky climbs of Cadillac Mountain rise high above, dotted with New England firs and sugar maple boughs. Amidst it all, travellers huddle together at Blackwoods Campground, the roaring crash of waves buffeting Schoodic Point in the distance. If you’re looking for a glimpse of the Eastern Seaboard at its best this year, then Acadia National Park surely tops the bill!
Catskill Mountains, New York
Forget the hubbub of downtown Manhattan this year, because New York’s Catskill Mountains are a calling! Since time immemorial they’ve been the chosen outdoorsy getaway of Bohemians and youth from the city, while today they draw all types. And why not, with stylish new boutique hotels gracing the streets of Phoenicia, ski fields carving through the trees of Hunter Mountain and more hiking trails than you can imagine running through the hills?
Santa Fe, New Mexico
The gateway to the majestic mountain valleys that cluster around the banks of the Rio Grande, Santa Fe affords travellers access to the meadows and rugged cliffs of the Carson National Forest and the cinder-cone-dotted plains of the Valles Caldera alike. What’s more, with oodles of investment hitting the ski resorts of Taos and Angel Fire, 2015 is set to be one seriously good season for snow riders.
Nestled between the UNESCO-attested wonders of the Yosemite National Park, the banks of Lake Tahoe, the towering trunks of the redwood forest and the bends of California’s scenic Pacific Coast Highway, visitors to Sacramento have oodles of seriously wonderful backcountry right at their fingertips. What’s more, San Francisco is just down the road, with enthralling Alcatraz Island and the houses of Nob Hill.
Edisto Island, South Carolina
Awash with rustic cabins in the woods and homey little guesthouses perched on the edge of the shore, Edisto Island is the perfect choice for outdoorsy types looking to leave behind the fray of coastal resort towns like Myrtle Beach. Expect a wonderfully beautiful backcountry of secluded beaches that slope down to fresh Atlantic surf, one fantastic serpentarium and a web of walking trails to boot.
Denali National Park, Alaska
The perfect option for intrepid types and bona fide lovers of the great outdoors, the Denali National Park is home to soaring Mount McKinley (the highest in all of North America), the glacier-carved Kichatna Mountains and great swathes of alpine forest. What’s more, with a smattering of campsites set to open for the season in 2015 and new domestic air routes connecting the contiguous US with the city of Anchorage, there’s never been a better time to hit this beautiful northern enclave!
By Rich Francis