5 Spots Of Unrivalled Natural Beauty In The USA
Wanderlust in overdrive.
Surprisingly, the United States is only a pinch larger in size than Australia, but while Australia is largely made up of red desert, the US is a mixed bag of climates and landscapes, plus natural and man-made landmarks enriched with history and legend. One only has to step outside of the major cities to find an array of diverse terrain within fairly close reach. Whatever outdoor vibe you’re into – snowy mountain ranges, lush swamplands, crystal coastlines or foggy rainforests – the scope from east to west is practically endless and the US is home to some of the most stunning natural landscapes in the world. With a seemingly infinite bucket list of sights to take in, wanderers TEGAN BUTLER and ANDREW NOEL share five of their adventures in the most beautiful natural spots in the US.
#1 The Grand Canyon, AZ
Hands-down, the most breathtaking of cliffside views is The Grand Canyon. Located in the red middle of Arizona, there are a myriad of ways to explore it. Most day-trippers populate the lookout points along the South Rim, which only require short hikes for a killer view. The best time to visit is early morning – thick, misty fog fills the canyon and slowly rises from its floor to creep over the rim as the sun rises overhead. The first glimpse of the canyon is so overwhelming, it is literally love at first sight.
A unique way to see the inside of the canyon is by mule. These majestic, colourfully decorated creatures take you on highly coveted guided tours (booking in advance is advised). While most people simply admire the canyon from afar, the mules take you deeper along a narrow and winding four mile trail (6.5 kilometres) beneath the rim – a pretty hefty distance to go on foot.
We descended the South Kaibob Trail to Skeleton Point for a six-mile (10.6 kilometre) hike roundtrip. The rocks’ sedimentary layers popped with hues of burnt orange, blue and purple at every turn. Once we made it to the trail’s end, the views from inside the canyon were even more surreal. The Colorado River finally revealed itself from this vantage point, and we traced it with our eyes as it snaked along the canyon floor. Our knees weak from the steep descent, we sat to take it all in before battling the uphill return. There are no rails or fences to protect you from falling along the narrow trail, meaning we felt the power of nature to the fullest extent.
The red dirt of the path painted colours onto our jeans like a canvas, and when we finally returned to the top of the canyon it was a magnificent feeling. The exhaustive physicality of the hike, combined with the opportunity of getting so close to something truly epic, made the adrenalin flow. I vow to return one day and hike to the bottom where waterfalls and channels of bright, milky aqua await.
Up next: Big Sur, California…