If you’ve ever planned a trip to the Western USA, you’ve most likely read the lists that tell you about the well-known travel spots like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite National Park, and the redwoods of California.

However, there are ways to escape the crowds and visit some of the lesser-known wonders the US has to offer.  These hidden gems and travel spots in the western USA will have you wanting to pack you bags and hit the road today!

Here’s our list of 10 hidden wonders of the USA.

 

Burney falls

1.  Burney Falls, CA

Nestled withing the towering pines of northern California, Burney Falls is a true hidden gem.  Located just north of Mount Lassen Volcanic National Park, the 130-foot falls offer some of the most stunning views in all of California.

The falls are a local hit, but not many outsiders know of them. There are multiple hiking trails leading to the falls, and they’re an easy trek for all ages.  Try going in the spring so the water is rushing, due to the snow melting from the mountains.

If you’re looking for a photo spot, there are plenty around the falls, including from directly above the raging waters.

 

 

2.  Antelope Canyon, AZ

The awe-inspiring views from within the walls of antelope canyon make it a true competitor to the Grand Canyon.  While it doesn’t match the sheer magnitude of the Grand Canyon, the tall, winding walls that were formed by rivers make it a great experience.

Antelope Canyon was formed almost 200 million years ago when rivers carved through the Navajo sandstone.  Over the years, the river has formed the spectacular, 120-foot deep canyon that is truly a sight to behold.

To experience the canyon, you can book tours at both the Upper and Lower parts of the canyon.  The tours all take you through the winding walls of the canyon, but there is a price variance on all of them.  The Lower Antelope tours run for around $35, and the Upper Antelope can be around $50.

The Upper Antelope offers the spectacular light beams, seen only in Antelope Canyon.  These beams of light seep through the top of the canyon, highlighting the sand at the bottom.

 

San Juan Mountains

3.  San Juan Mountains, CO

These mountains may not be much if you live in Colorado, but for outsiders, it’s a must see.  The mountain range boasts 13 14-f00t peaks, as well as crystal alpine lakes dotting the hills.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy the beauty of the mountain range.  If you go in the summer, mountain biking and hiking are prominent throughout the San Juan Peaks.   Most notably, Crested Butte and Gunnison, CO offer incredible mountain biking and hiking trails for all experience levels.  We stopped there for a week on our trip through Colorado, and the views and activity options are unparalleled.  In the winter, skiing dominates the slopes of the mountains, with people coming from all over to get a taste of Colorado.

For a more relaxing experience, the San Juan mountains offer many alpine lakes and creeks, making hiking to them so much more spectacular.  The Ice Lakes are one of the most famous alpine lakes in the range, located near Silverton.  The crystal waters make it a great place to relax, and snap some great pictures in the process.

For those of you with cameras, you’ll want to make sure you bring them, and a lot of extra batteries.  The views are stunning.

 

Fly Geyser

4.  Fly Geyser, NV

Hot water spews from these red, yellow and orange rocks in Nevada.  Unlike other geysers, this was not naturally formed.  This colorful monument was formed formed when geothermal energy tests pushed up water and minerals to the surface.  Since 1964, the geyser has been covered in minerals, which give it the rainbow-colored look.

Fly Geyser is located on private property, but tours have started as of July, 2018.  You can visit Fly Geyser on the weekends, and we recommend you do.

 

5.  Mount Lassen Volcanic National Park

The peacefulness of the area surrounding the volcano at Lassen National Park is stunning.  With two lakes, a river and wooded trails, its’ a great place to stop and relax.  Try going in the spring to see the snow capped mountain and the flowing rivers at the base.

Mount Lassen National Park offers a variety of activities that don’t involve gawking at a volcano.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

A popular activity is hiking up the many trails throughout the park, including Devil’s Kitchen.  This 4 mile trail covers mud pots, fumaroles and steaming rivers.  It’s namesake, the hydro-thermal area near the end of the trail, is the second largest in the park.  The trail is semi-difficult, but it offers some great experiences along the way.

If you visit the park in the winter, you can grab your sleds and hit the slopes of Lassen Peak.  You can sled in the south-west section of the park, and snowshoeing and skiing are allowed as well.

Finally, hit Lassen Peak when the sun goes down, and you’ll see some of the brightest stars in California.  The remote location makes the night time stargazing an incredible experience, one everyone should get to see.

 

black canyon of the gunnison

6.  Black Canyon of the Gunnison

We didn’t get the opportunity to visit this National park, but we passed right by it on our way to California.  We wish we could’ve, because the walls are over 2,000 feet high in some places, and only 40 feet apart from one another.

The canyon was formed over 2 million years ago, and today it’s a breathtaking natural wonder.  To enjoy the canyon, you can take part in a variety of activities.

For some of the best views of the canyon, make your way to the floor where the river runs.  You can take the East Portal Road, the only road leading down the the river.  It offers some great views, but the drive is hair-raising.  Make sure your car can handle 16% grades and hairpin turns.  If not, try some other options.

Another huge activity is stargazing.  In 2015, the Black Canyon National park was declared an International Dark Sky Park, a park known for incredible views of the stars.  This is Colorado’s only Dark Sky Park, and only the 9th in the USA.  Combine that with the incredible sunsets, the Black Canyon is a must-see if you’re near the Colorado area.

For the active folk, hiking and rock climbing trails dot the cliffs and walls.  The rock climbing is expert only, but the hiking trails are moderate.  Make sure to pack plenty of water, as it can get pretty hot in the summertime.

 

hidden gems in wyoming

7.  Devils Tower, WY

Devils tower is a massive natural rock formation in the middle of Wyoming.  The area is as remote as can be, and it’s a great spot to hang out.

For spectacular views of the tower, you can take one of the 4 hiking trails that navigate around the base of the rock formation.  The Tower Trails is the most popular, taking you 1.3 miles around the tower.  Another popular trail, the Joyner Ridge trail, is an easier trek for all ages to enjoy the views offered by this spectacular monument.

Finally, hit Devils Tower during the night to see the stars outlining the massive rock tower.

 


 

That’s it!  We hope you found a new destination to add to your bucket list!  Are there any hidden gems that you know of that we missed?  If so, shoot us a comment and we’ll try to include it in our next hidden gems list!

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