These natural wonders of the US prove that you don’t need to leave the country to experience incredible sites. Visit one of them on your next vacation.
The original wonders of the world were all man-made, such as the Colosseum or the Great Pyramids of Giza. The organization Seven Natural Wonders sought to raise awareness for the incredible naturally-occurring geological wonders and help protect them for future generations. The seven natural wonders of the world are:
- Aurora Borealis
- Grand Canyon
- Great Barrier Reef
- Harbor of Rio di Janiero (Guanabara Bay)
- Mount Everest
- Victoria Falls
Just because these are the “official” natural wonders doesn’t mean they’re the only ones. The United States has some of nature’s greatest accomplishments. We’ll share our natural wonders of the US list so you can start planning your next vacation and enjoy the best of what nature has to offer.
1. Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the seven natural wonders of the world but is also a natural wonder of the US. It is one of the largest canyons in the world and makes the list due to its impressive scale and also beautifully colored rock formations. No matter what time of year you go, you’ll be able to enjoy this incredible site that was carved over millions of years by the Colorado River. The easiest way to visit is by heading to Grand Canyon National Park.
2. The Everglades
The Everglades belongs on the list of natural wonders of the US due to its extensive waterway networks filled with diverse plants and animals. It contains thousands of square miles of wetlands, waterways, and subtropical forests. It’s estimated that more than 200,000 alligators live here, and is thought to be the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators peacefully coexist. Along with those reptiles, bottlenose dolphins, manatees, and panthers call the Everglades home.
3. Crater Lake
Crater Lake is 1,943 feet deep, making it the deepest lake in the United States. It was formed by the collapse of an ancient volcano. What makes this natural wonder of the US interesting is that there is no water outlet — the water that fills the lake comes only from snow or rainfall. Due to this phenomenon, Crater Lake is also one of the cleanest and clearest lakes in the world. The shores of the lake are home to an endemic species: the Mazama newt.
4. Mammoth Cave
Mammoth Cave is the world’s longest known cave system and is preserved as part of Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky. Over 400 miles of this limestone labyrinth have been explored so far but it is thought that there are at least another 600 miles to explore. On top of that, there are more than 130 species of wildlife that call this place home, including unique species like the eyeless cave fish.
5. Hubbard Glacier
It’s not hard to see why the Hubbard Glacier deserves to be on the list of natural wonders of the US. This glacier flows over 75 miles and calves into the sea. Its face is 6 miles wide, making it the longest tidewater glacier in North America. It starts at Mt. Logan (in Canada) and ends within the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve. In some locations, the glacier is over 2,000 feet thick.
6. The Hyperion
The tallest tree on earth, the Hyperion, is a giant coastal redwood that is 380 feet tall. Redwoods, trees native to California, are also found in Oregon and extend up into British Columbia. You can spot them during hikes in Sequoia National Park, although there are plenty of other places to see redwoods in California.
6. Hells Canyon
The deepest river gorge in North America deserves a spot on our natural wonders of the US list. It was carved by the Snake River and its west rim is located in Oregon, while the east rim is found in Idaho. The Snake River actually runs north through the canyon. It’s 10 miles wide at its widest point and about 5,500 feet deep on average. You can enjoy this beautiful location by hiking or rafting down the river.
7. Medenhall Ice Caves
The Mendenhall Glacier is a 12-mile-long glacier located just outside of Juneau, and while the glacier itself is fantastic, the blue ice caves inside are what we want to highlight. This incredible location allows you to experience every stage of the water cycle as water runs over rocks under frozen, bright-blue ceilings. These caves will not be around forever, as glaciers continue to melt due to climate change, so if you want to visit this natural wonder of the US, it’s best to go sooner rather than later.
8. Lechuguilla Cave
This natural wonder of the US is located in Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Lenchuguilla Cave is the second deepest limestone cave in the country, and at 149 miles, it’s one of the ten longest caves in the world. Another cool feature is that it’s home to rare microbes that haven’t been discovered anywhere else in the world.
9. Great Sand Dunes
Star Dune is tied for the tallest sand dune on the continent at a towering 741 feet. It’s located within the 30-square-mile dune field in Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. The park itself is also a dark sky park, meaning you can enjoy it even after sunset. All of the sand dunes are constantly growing and moving as rocks in the nearby mountains erode and the wind blows the particles around.
10. Arches National Park
This national park houses several natural wonders of the US — over 2,000 documented sandstone arches, to be exact. This is the densest concentration of natural stone arches in the world, and there are plenty of other notable geologic formations within the 76,679 acres of the park. Notable arches include:
- Delicate Arch (the most iconic and photographed)
- Landscape Arch
- Double O Arch
The desert park is also home to an estimated 500 plant species and features ancient rock art.
11. Caddo Lake
Caddo Lake makes the list of natural wonders of the US because it’s home to the largest cypress forest in the world. It’s also the largest naturally-formed lake in Texas and is famous for flooding the trunks of the cypress trees. You can make the most of your trip here by going out on a boat and paddling the bayou.
12. Badwater Basin
Badwater Basin is located in Death Valley National Park. This extensive salt flat covers nearly 200 square miles and, at 282 feet below sea level, is the lowest point in the United States. Water forms temporary lakes after heavy storms, and as it evaporates, the minerals concentrate until only salt remains. This area is also home to an endemic snail.
13. Mauna Loa
What makes Mauna Loa a natural wonder of the US is that it’s the largest active volcano on the planet. It stands 13,681 feet above sea level but rises 30,000 feet from the bottom of the sea, making it taller than Mount Everest! This large volcano makes up just over half of Hawai’i Island and erupts every five years on average. Its most recent eruption was at the end of 2022.
14. Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful is arguably the most famous geyser in the world, but what makes it so special? The reliability of eruptions is how it got its name. Most regular eruptions reach highs of over 130 feet and last for several minutes. It’s located within the Upper Geyser Basin of Yellowstone National Park, which has the densest concentration of geysers in the world. This is one natural wonder of the US that will blow you away.
15. The Great Lakes
The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system in the world, spanning a total surface area of 94,600 square miles. Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior make up nearly one-fifth of the world’s freshwater supply and are all connected by a network of rivers and lakes. This natural wonder of the US is another that we share with our neighbors to the north, with only one lake (Michigan) being entirely located in the United States.
16. Niagara Falls
The site of Niagara Falls is pretty spectacular, and as you get closer you can feel the rush of the water. Nearly 3,160 tons of water flow over Niagara Falls every second. The force of the water hitting the base generates over 4 million kilowatts of electricity between the United States and Canada. Four of the five Great Lakes drain into the Niagara River before emptying into the fifth (Lake Ontario). This natural wonder of the US can be seen from Niagara Falls State Park, the oldest state park in the country.
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