America's 10 Best Views

by Terry Ward Subscribe to Terry Ward's posts Posted Jul 24th 2009 03:37 PM


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Americas 10 Best Views

Consider America's diverse landscapes--from the cypress-strewn swamps of Florida to the groaning glaciers of Alaska, and from the lobster-riddled nooks of Maine's rocky coast to the alien lava fields of Hawaii. Few countries can boast the range of landscapes that define the United States. From sea to shining sea, jaw-meets-floor vistas captivate the eye and stoke the wanderlust. Rounding up ten of the most impressive U.S. views barely scratches the surface, we know. But this list shows at least a snippet of the unparalleled beauty that America has to offer.

To help you discover these breathtaking landscapes, we used to find the lowest possible airfare rates for each stunning destination. If you're looking to catch an eyeful, just try your own search based on your preferred dates for travel and departure city.

Americas 10 Best Views

Wondrous Multnomah Falls is the best known tourist site in this stunning scenic area defined by a river canyon that cuts through swaths of Washington State and Oregon. But the Columbia River Gorge area is awash with lesser known waterfalls and jaw-dropping overlooks, too. The best views belong to those who take a road trip along the Historic Columbia River Highway, which is less traveled than Interstate 84 and studded with waterfalls and hiking trails accessed just off the road. Be sure to stop at the Vista House viewpoint to feel the power of the gorge winds while taking in views across the river to Washington State.

Americas 10 Best Views

America's most iconic natural landscape offers an endless array of viewpoints for soaking in its striated, geological splendor. Of course, some Grand Canyon vistas are more accessible than others. Visitors willing to lace up their hiking boots will be rewarded with the sweetest crowd-free vantage points. For those who prefer to drive and view, Hopi Point, along Hermit Road (accessible by shuttle bus during peak season), is an idyllic place to watch the sun melt over the pinnacles and buttes-but you're hardly be here alone at sunset. There's less people traffic at viewpoints such as Yaki and Pima Point, where the gushing Colorado River rushes by a mile below (oftentimes, you can even hear its roar).

Americas 10 Best Views

Think Lord of the Rings-meets-Blue Lagoon, and you'll have an idea of what to expect on Kauai's remote Na Pali Coast. But only an idea. The rutted, lush, nearly alien views here - best experienced from a whirlybird's eye view during an hour-long helicopter tour - make 'otherworldly' seem like an understatement. Sheer cliffs plunging to the deep blue sea mean accessing the coast by land is largely impossible. But intrepid hikers can consider the challenging route along the Kalalau Trail, where endless switchbacks are rewarded with fantasy views and, finally, access to remote Kalalua Beach. Kayaking trips are another stellar way to experience Na Pali, and you'll likely spot whales in the waters, too.

Americas 10 Best Views

One of the world's most beautiful coastlines can be found in Northern California, along the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur. The winding route is fringed by redwood forests that descend to the crashing surf below, and coddled by the legendary fog banks that roll in blanket-like, only to disintegrate instantly in a wash of sun. Cars and motorcycles along the route tend to pile up, caravan-like, particularly during the busy summer months. But there are countless places to pull over for a breather of fresh Pacific air. For lunch with incredible views, tuck into the famous Ambrosia Burgers at Nepenthe Restaurant, where the balcony overlooks the rugged coastline.

Americas 10 Best Views

If a fairytale were written about the American southwest, then the illustrations would take their inspiration from the magical scenery in this southwest Utah wonderland. Angels Landing is one of Zion National Park's most popular day hikes, and rightfully so. Views of one of the park's iconic rust red monoliths from here-so seemingly inaccessible that only an angel could land on it, an early 20th century explorer once said-will leave you speechless. And the hike might leave words caught in your throat, too, with vertigo-inducing drops and chains bolted into the rock to act as handrails through the sketchier stretches.

Americas 10 Best Views

In early July, when the flame azaleas are at the peak of their bloom at this Great Smoky Mountains locale, the hills blaze red, orange and yellow. And in the autumn, the scene is similar with the changing leaves. On the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains are an ancient ridge home to a deep diversity of plant and animal life. Views from Andrews Bald take in the boundless expanse of the Southern Appalachians. Access to the grassy peak is via the Forney Ridge Trail, with the shortest hike clocking in at less than four miles, roundtrip, from the parking lot.

Americas 10 Best Views

More proof that the U.S. has it all when it comes to diverse landscapes comes in the form of calving glaciers, snowcapped peaks, deep fjords and breaching whales in this remote marine wilderness. Most visitors view the area from a cruise ship during the summer months. And even on the biggest ships, captains can get you surprisingly close to the groaning glaciers. Smaller boat tours can be arranged from Juneau and other southeast Alaskan locales. And four maintained hiking trails, accessed from Bartlett Cove, also exist in the park.

Americas 10 Best Views

Whether you visit at the peak of the fall foliage season for leaf-peeping (around mid-October) or you find yourself here during the refreshing summer months, Maine's most popular national park rewards hikers and drive-thru tourists alike with remarkable scenery. The Park Loop Road drive is the most accessible way to see the park, and viewpoints along the way let you ogle the granite peak of Cadillac Mountain and glistening Bar Harbor. Feeling energetic? Hike to the top of Cadillac Mountain for 360-degree views and a sunrise that's second to none.

Americas 10 Best Views

Part of what makes this Wyoming stretch of the Rocky Mountain range so impressive is its distinct lack of neighborly distraction. The Grand Tetons rise from the surrounding flat valley, captivating your vision with their sheer immensity and unique form. And the contrast of the valley, lush and forested, with the snow-capped peaks resembles a fantastical painting. Hundreds of miles of hiking trails mean your viewing options are endless. For a family-friendly hike with uncompromised views, hit the Hermitage Point Trailhead, with hikes of varying lengths to appeal across the spectrum.

Americas 10 Best Views

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The picture shown is really of Wiamea canyon in Kauai, not the napali cliffs

August 12 2011 at 11:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Selene Mathew

Travel America is a dream of many people and even wants to explore it. It is the best known place recommended for holiday destinations. Glacier National Park is really a perfect place to have a view of the spectacular scenery, wildlife and enjoy outstanding recreational opportunities.

April 25 2011 at 12:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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