We continue our adventure across America showcasing the most beautiful destinations in each state. This time around we travel from titanic sand dunes in New Mexico to a laidback island off the coast of South Carolina. Join us as we celebrate the inspiring majestic wonders that truly make America beautiful. Here’s part four of the most beautiful destination in each state…
12,000 years ago, a giant lake once filled the area that’s now White Sands National Park, and a plethora of life lived in the region, from early humans to mammoths, giant ground sloths, dire wolves, and even saber tooth tigers. The lake had a high concentration of gypsum in the water, and over the centuries, as the lake evaporated due to a changing climate, the gypsum dried into a crystal form called selenite. Now, the selenite sands provide the region with giant ivory-colored sand dunes that feel like a cross between the beach and the Sahara. Some dunes can even reach 60 feet high!
Letchworth State Park
Letchworth feels like a slice of the west in the middle of New York state. The park protects a massive gorge that, at parts, has rock walls that are 550-feet deep. The gorge also has three absolutely stunning waterfalls. Every turn seems to be picture-perfect. From the trains that pass directly over the falls on the Genesee Arch Bridge, to trees growing right off the edge of cliffs, and even quaint stone bridges made for visitors to cross the river.
The Outer Banks
Off the coast of North Carolina sits the Outer Banks, a 200-mile-long stretch of barrier islands that have what many consider to be some of the best beaches in the country. It’s a paradise for hikers, beach walkers, swimmers, surfers, and lovers of action sports like wakeboarding, parasailing, and water skiing. However, the Banks are also loaded with adorable beach towns that are known for their fresh seafood offerings, so be sure to grab a bite before heading home!
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is loaded with what’s known as “badlands”, which are areas dominated by rocky cliffs, hills, bluffs, and gorges. The region is home to bison, mustangs, cougars, and more. The park’s name comes from our 26th president, who had a cabin on the land. He even cited his time in North Dakota as what turned him into such a nature lover. The cabin has been preserved and visitors can see where Roosevelt spent his year in the Dakotas.
Hocking Hills has quite the history. It’s a region in southern Ohio dominated by waterfalls, caves and caverns, lagoons, rivers, and unique rock formations. It all began over 300 million years ago when the area was underwater. After the sea receded, Hocking Hills was a mass of a unique type of sandstone. Then, the Appalachian mountains began to rise, followed by the Ice Age, which covered the area with glaciers. What remains after hundreds of millions of years of a constantly changing environment is a cluster of odd natural formations you can’t find anywhere else.
Located in Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains, the babbling Honey Creek dives off the side of a cliff, dropping pristine, turquoise water into a shallow natural pool that’s become a popular summertime swim spot. Nearby the falls is also hiking trails, caves, and another natural swimming pool. Turner Falls is a favorite for locals and visitors alike.
The Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor has tons of awe-inspiring sights, but none are quite as striking and powerful as the Natural Bridges. This area has seven sea arches, or “natural bridges”, as well as giant monoliths rising out of the sea, pine-covered cliffs, and the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean. It looks part Game of Thrones and part paradise, but one thing is for sure, it will be one of the most beautiful sights you’ll ever see.
Bear Run Nature Reserve
Bear Run Nature Reserve sits in the Laurel Highlands about 90 minutes from downtown Pittsburgh and offers 20 miles of hiking trails through forests and along flowing headwater streams. Visitors will also be met with stunning vistas, dense woodlands, waterfalls, rare plants, and of course, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater. The reserve, which is a combination of natural beauty and ecological significance, is free to the public. Visitors wishing to experience Fallingwater, which was inscribed to the UNSECO World Heritage List in 2019, will have to purchase a tour ticket to explore this architectural wonder.
Located off of Rhode Island’s southern coast sits Block Island. Famous for being an escape from the stress of the mainland, Block Island is known for leisurely bike rides, walks along the sand, and, in traditional Rhode Island style, sailing. The island is also a birder’s paradise as it sits along the Atlantic flyway, which is one of the major migratory paths birds fly each year. The island is also loaded with charming and historic buildings, including inns and B&Bs, lighthouses, and forts from past wars.
Hilton Head Island
Hilton Head is a Lowcountry island directly off South Carolina’s coast that’s full of contrasts. Old trees covered in Spanish moss rest near flashy palms. Tidal marshlands sit comfortably next to harbors. And modern luxury adorns the same streets as historical landmarks. For nature-lovers, there’s plenty of waterways, coastline, trails, and meadows to explore. For history buffs, the island played a major role in the Civil War and for slaves escaping to freedom, so there’s tons to be learned from visiting.
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