While the United States may not be known for their extensive cultural heritage or rich historical destinations due to the young age of the country, there is still something unique in the vast landscape that laid out before the introduction of settlers for thousands of years. The natural wonders waiting to be discovered, especially on the west coast, are beautiful displays of untouched earth and breathtaking sights to behold. If you have never experienced the millions of acres from Arizona to California, reaching up to Canada and beyond, there certainly rests awe-inspiring views that won’t be found anywhere else in the world.
There are so many natural wonders on the west coast that it can be difficult to get to all of them in one trip. Depending on the amount of time you and have and your willingness to drive in a semi-spiral, it is possible to hit the majority of these destination within a couple weeks time. The best place to start would be Monument Valley, UT on the Four Corners where Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona meet the state in perfect ninety-degree angles.
Monument Valley is a beautiful specimen of rock formations and a gorgeous painted valley for a scenic drive. The true Painted Valley is in Arizona, not far from here, should you find yourself up the drive. After Monument Valley starts the beginning of the spiral, slightly backtracking through Colorado to hit the breathtaking Rocky Mountains, and then on to New Mexico, where the Carlsbad Caverns are nestled under 46,000+ acres of the Chihuahuan Desert. Some of the most extensive, famous and awe-inspiring cave formations in the world, the Carlsbad Caverns will take you an impressive 75 stories under ground.
The next leg of your trip will take you straight through the deserts of Arizona and directly to the Grand Canyon. This impressive 277 mile long gorge, carved by the Colorado river, boasts over 2 billion years of geological history and is one of the largest rifts in the world. The sheer magnitude of the canyon is enough to cause visitors to become dizzy upon their first sight of it, so pause for a moment to take it in before you approach the edge. Once you have safely made it through Arizona, California will be the longest, and possibly the most rewarding, state to travel through.
If you cut across the bottom tip of Utah, you will soon find yourself driving through the famous Death Valley of the Mojave Desert. Situated just east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Death Valley holds the record for the highest recorded temperature in the world and has been home to the native Timbisha tribe for the past millenia. The valley itself is a beautiful display of vast, open desert, but be careful to check your breaks on the way out, as the constant breaking coming down Telescope Peak in the Panamint Range mixed with the extreme heat can cause break pads to glow red hot. Upon making it out of the desert with bragging rights, Yosemite National Park is the next natural wonder that you won’t want to miss.
Whether you’re a rock climber, wildlife photographer, cyclist or just an all around explorer, Yosemite covers 747,956 acres of untamed, designated wilderness. From waterfalls to granite cliffs and peaks reaching over 13,000, it can become easy to find yourself trapped in the park with no desire to visit anywhere else. Plan on spending a few days camping and exploring before you head north to visit the Redwood National Forest, where trees here are some of the oldest and largest specimens on the planet and the ferns are equaled in their massive size.
Once you finally make it out of California, Crater Lake, OR is an impressive destination before cutting up towards Canada, just to say you were there, and finally dipping back down toward Arizona for the full circle. On your way back, don’t forget to visit Yellowstone National Park, WY. Most famously known for Old Faithful, the geyser that erupts up to 140-foot spout of water every forty-five minutes to two hours apart, Yellowstone also hosts a number of hot springs, lakes, rivers, canyons and mountain ranges. The Grand Prismatic Hot-spring is one of the most beautiful and colorful naturally occurring wonders that you will ever lay eyes on, and is more than worth the trip for just a single glance
Whichever way you decide to travel the west coast of America, you most certainly do not want to miss out on any of these grand specimens of nature. From underground to high above and every where in between, the vast expanse of land that spreads from Mexico to Canada is an experience that each and every world traveler should plan on taking. These are only a few of the main destinations and many more can be found regardless of where you are headed. Take time to plan out your trip and make sure to include these beautiful and awe-inspiring wonders the next time you adventure in the United States.