Last week I wrote a post about my Travel Bucket List. Today I thought I’d write a post about places that I think should be on everyone’s Bucket List. These are ten of my all-time favorite places. I plan on returning to all of them. I have included brief descriptions of the places and photos. I hope you enjoy and add some places to your own Bucket List.
Feel free to comment or ask questions about any place on here.
1. Havasu Canyon, Arizona.
“Heaven on Earth” and “Secluded Paradise” sum up this place accurately. An oasis of unimaginable beauty is hidden deep within a remote canyon surrounded by barren desert. This blissful sanctuary is home to a phenomenal landscape. Spectacular waterfalls drop into exotic turquoise pools beside pristine sandy beaches. Lush vegetation contrasts against a striking backdrop of red rock canyon walls. It is just amazing.
The biggest problem is that it is in the middle of nowhere. The enchanting waterfalls are ten miles from any road and the closest town with over 1,000 residents is about 130 miles to the southwest. It is not within a national park, but rather lies within the Havasupai Indian Reservation. The reservation is located in northwest Arizona. It is directly south of a remote area of Grand Canyon National Park. The Havasupai people have populated the area for over 800 years. Only one town remains within the reservation, the secluded village of Supai, which is eight miles from the nearest road.
2. Glacier National Park, Montana.
Alpine meadows, jagged peaks, and glacially-sculpted valleys only begin to describe the incredible landscape that makes up Glacier National Park. The park straddles the Continental Divide in the Northern Rocky Mountains. Appropriately referred to as the Crown of the Continent, the park truly showcases a top-of-the-world environment. Glaciers, meadows, alpine lakes, snowfields, and a multitude of wildlife flourish in this pure and rugged landscape.
The park, encompassing more than one million acres of exceptional wilderness, is located in an isolated area of Northwest Montana. If I had to name a favorite National Park it would probably be Glacier. The stunning mountain scenery and abundant wildlife sightings are a large part of it, but the unsurpassed hiking opportunities are what make Glacier so special to me. The place is a hiker’s paradise. There are over 700 miles of trails. I estimate I’ve hiked over 75 miles there, including some of the best trails in the National Park System. Most of my best memories from the park came along those trails. I’ve seen moose, mountain goats, and even grizzly bears on hikes. I’ve also seen sparkling lakes, rugged peaks, forest-filled valleys, and mountain meadows carpeted by wildflowers. The pristine and wondrous scenery is unrivaled.
3. Yellowstone National Park; Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
Yellowstone is a natural utopia, seemingly overflowing with scenic beauty. Within this amazing landscape is the world’s greatest collection of geothermal features. There are over 10,000 hot springs, geysers, fumaroles, and mud pots. That includes 300 geysers, which makes up more than 60 % of the world’s total. As intriguing as those foul-smelling thermal displays may be, Yellowstone has so much more to offer. There are multiple mountain ranges with peaks over 11,000 feet high. The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone showcases two impressive waterfalls. And don’t forget the sprawling valleys, shimmering lakes, and petrified forests. It’s a natural paradise.
The park is also a kingdom for mega fauna. There are herds of bison, the largest land animal in North America. Humans are actually fourth on the Yellowstone food chain after bears, mountain lions, and wolves. This is one of the few places in the lower 48 where grizzly bears roam. Bighorn sheep (or rams) wander the higher park elevations. Elk, deer, and moose all inhabit the lower elevations and bald eagles patrol the park from above.
In addition to Yellowstone being the first National Park created in the world it is the first National Park I ever visited. So, it will always hold a special place in my heart. I have been there three times so far and hiked around fifteen different trails.
4. The Canadian Rockies, Alberta and British Columbia.
The wilderness-rich landscape is renowned for its scenic grandeur. Within the mountainous environment are rugged snowcapped peaks, grand meadows, alpine lakes, ice fields and majestic waterfalls. Of all the wondrous sights within the Canadian Rockies, it was the enchanting high-altitude lakes that especially attracted me. They varied in color from green to turquoise to midnight blue and all seemed to reflect snowy mountains. Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake, and Emerald Lake are quite possibly the most magnificent lakes I have ever seen.
The mountains themselves are the perfect backdrop for the entire gigantic region. The tallest peaks are nearly 13,000 feet high. While they are not the tallest mountains in Canada; the Rockies are large, steep, and imposing. They are more jagged than their American counterparts due to more glaciation.
5. Olympic National Park, Washington.
Few places around the world can rival Olympic National Park’s spectacular diversity. It consists of three distinctly different ecosystems. There are 73 miles of pristine wild coastline beside the Pacific Ocean. To the east lie glaciated mountains with sprawling alpine meadows. Vast temperate rainforests fill the space in between. Hot springs, waterfalls, and wildlife also populate the park.
The far western reaches of the park are highlighted by the longest stretch of undeveloped coastline within the contiguous United States. Beautiful unspoiled beaches contain tide pools, sea lions, and a dramatic rocky coast. Just offshore are stunning wave-battered islands, sea stacks, and the occasional gray whale.
Snow-covered peaks tower over the park. Mount Olympus, at 7,980 feet, is the tallest in the Olympic range. The mountains in the park contain about 60 glaciers. Beautiful alpine meadows teeming with wildflowers surround the peaks. Temperate rainforests fill the landscape surrounding the mountains. These old growth forests include some of the largest coniferous trees on earth. Several rivers flowing down from the Olympic Mountains feed these forests, making them an incredibly vibrant green.
6. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
No mountains in America rival the imposing grandeur of the Teton Range. The snow-capped granite behemoths tower above pristine lakes and pine-covered valleys. The range, which spans forty miles, has no foothills. As a result, the jagged peaks shoot straight up, piercing the sky as much as 7000 feet above the valley floor.
There’s more to Grand Teton National Park than the iconic mountains. Stunning lakes rest at the foot of the serrated peaks and the Snake River winds its way through the Jackson Hole Valley. An assortment of magnificent wildlife is abundant throughout the valleys, mountains, and waterways of the park.
7. Yosemite National Park, California.
As incredible as gigantic Sequoia trees and pristine subalpine meadows may be, they are mere afterthoughts in this enchanting landscape. That’s because Yosemite National Park is home to the most scenic and spectacular valley in the world. Yosemite Valley is a land of pure magnificent beauty, unlike any other place on earth.
Carved by glaciers over millions of years, Yosemite Valley is small in size at just seven miles long and a mile wide, but huge on scenery. Colossal stone monoliths and granite domes tower above the valley floor. A handful of soaring waterfalls, some of the tallest in the world, plunge off steep-sided granite cliffs. Hanging valleys, grand meadows, and the meandering Merced River add to the valley’s scenic resume.
There are alternatives to the stunning, but overpopulated valley. Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite’s high country is the largest subalpine meadow in the Sierra Nevada range. Jagged peaks and round granite domes surround the meadow carpeted with wildflowers. The area has a more tranquil beauty to it, with slow-moving rivers and placid lakes. The park’s three sequoia groves are other formidable options. The Mariposa Grove is the largest, most impressive, and most crowded.
8. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
The stunning amphitheaters that make up the heart of the National Park are very unusual. They conjure up images of ancient cities in ruin or a landscape on a far off planet. The reason Bryce Canyon has such strange and spectacular amphitheaters are because of what’s inside of them. These three-sided bowls are overflowing with colorful and intricate rock formations. There is a vast assortment of towering fins, stone spires, arches, and soaring columns throughout a maze of limestone creations. The most abundant rock formations throughout Bryce are its famous hoodoos. Hoodoos are individual stone pillars that are normally tall and thin. There are more hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park than anywhere else in the world.
While the hoodoos and other formations of Bryce are startling to say the least, their wide range of color makes them truly incredible. Shades of orange, pink, and white dominate the rocky wonderland. The formations glow especially brilliant at dawn and dusk.
9. Antelope Canyon, Arizona.
Located on Navajo Nation land in Northern Arizona, Antelope Canyon, is likely the most visited slot canyon in the Southwest. It is extremely popular among photographers due to the colors of the sandstone and the way that beams of light shine down through the top of the narrow canyon. There are actually two separate spectacular canyons, known as Upper Antelope Canyon or The Crack; and Lower Antelope Canyon or The Corkscrew.
Access to the canyon requires a tour guide, which can cost between $30 and $80 per person, but it’s well worth it. I walked through Upper Antelope Canyon, which was on completely level land and only 600 feet long. The slot canyon was 120 feet deep and only a couple of feet wide. The smooth, curvy walls and the way the canyon snaked its way through the landscape were fascinating. The colors of the rock were mesmerizing. When the light was just right, the walls nearly glowed orange.
10. Sedona, Arizona.
Surrounded by stunning red rock formations and over a million acres of national forest, Sedona is a thing of beauty. The red rock glows at sunrise and sunset. The small city is located in the middle of Arizona, about two hours north of Phoenix and two hours south of the Grand Canyon. It is a magnet for artists, New Age spiritualists, and outdoor enthusiasts. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails throughout the area. Many others come for the vortex energy centers or else to simply relax in one of the many spa resorts in town.
The place is rich in culture. There are over thirty galleries lining the streets filled with photos, paintings, and sculptures. Boutiques and restaurants are also abundant throughout the touristy town. With a population of just over 10,000 Sedona has that small resort town charm to it. It is scenic, welcoming, comfortable, and has a very relaxed vibe to it.
- Zion National Park, Utah
- Lake Placid, NY
- Cannes, France
- St. Maarten
- Acadia National Park, Maine
- Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
- Florence, Italy