10 Breathtaking Views You Need In Your Life, No Passport Required
America, with its varied vistas and vastly different landscapes, is a melting pot of gorgeous Instagrammable moments. Here are 10 of our favorites.
1. Toroweap Overlook, Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Standing 3,000 feet above the Colorado River, Toroweap Overlook in the Grand Canyon National Park can be accessed by rough, unpaved roads far from the closest city. The difficult trek is worth it, as the majestic overlook is the only viewpoint in the park where the Colorado River can be seen vertically from above.
2. One World Observatory, New York, NY
Standing a symbolic 1,776 feet above the former site of the twin towers, One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere. A visit to the complex’s top 100-102 floors, dedicated to viewing experiences, allows for somber reflection as well as unbeatable panoramic views of the city. Visits are by timed tickets, and you can even get a refund if the climate is too cloudy or inclement to see clearly.
3. Mount Rainier, Washington
The highest peak in Washington and the Cascade Mountain Range is a sight not to be missed. If a selfie in front of the mountain is your thing, then snap that photo fast, as Mount Rainier (with an elevation of 14,411 feet) is an active volcano that last erupted in 1895 and is poised to erupt again. Climbing to the mountaintop vantage points can take up to 10 days, but if you’re not up for that much of a hike, take Stevens Canyon Road with its easy-access Inspiration Point, with lots of parking and great views of the mountain. Down Steven Canyon Road, you can find Reflection Lakes – the mountain is doubled in its crystal clear waters.
4. Mount Rushmore National Monument, South Dakota
Carved in granite by sculptor Gutzon Borglum and 400 workers, this example of human creativity and determination features 60-foot-tall depictions of four American presidents gazing across the Black Hills of South Dakota. Although the monument has many vantages, Iron Mountain Road is one where you can drive your car through a series of tunnels designed to take you to a great viewing point.
5. View from the Pacific Coast Highway, California
Start your California dreamin’ while driving along the California Coast Highway. Whether crossing the Bixby Bridge with a view of the Pacific, or feeling the wind lash your face as you journey at the edge of the coastline in Big Sur, the Pacific Coast Highway offers breathtaking views -- but keep your eyes on the road! The Lost Coast Highway is one of the best sections: Drive off Highway 101, following State Route 211 for 23 miles to the coast. For surfers, this is paradise, with waves you’ll want to dive right into.
6. Opaekaa Falls in Kauai, Hawaii
There are several majestic and breathtaking waterfalls in Kauai, and Opaekaa Falls is one of the more accessible ones. Surrounded by lush greenery and a scenic stream, Opaekaa Falls sits on the eastern side of Kauai and offers a magnificent example of nature’s beauty.
7. Mendenhall Glacier, Juneau, Alaska
Walking through a glacier would give anyone bragging rights. The hike there is not for everyone (the gear is heavy and the elevation high), but paddling tours are also available. Stepping into the glacier’s caves, where ice and rock merge with crystal blue waters meandering through, is like being on another planet.
8. Glacier Point, Yosemite, CA
At 3,214 feet above Half Dome Village on the floor of Yosemite Valley, Glacier Point is accessible by car and should not be missed. Go at sunrise to take in the majestic vastness of the mountains, as it’s a popular spot for tourists once the sun comes up.
9. Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming
On the Snake River, there is an area called Oxbow Bend that opens up to a view of one of the most photographed images of the American wilderness: Mount Moran, reflected in the Snake River. Comprising 310,000 acres of gorgeous landscape, the Grand Tetons in northeast Wyoming feature 200 miles of trails for hiking and skiing.
10. Arches National Park, Utah
There are over 2,000 sandstone arches to see and enjoy in this park in eastern Utah, 5 miles north of Moab on US 191. The park has been shot in numerous Hollywood films because of its stunning natural beauty. A visit to Arches National Park or a stay in one of its 50 available campgrounds might remind you of film classics “Thelma and Louise” or “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” -- and that would be because these films were made right here. The Park is one of Utah’s “Mighty Five” National Parks: Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion.
Michael Alpiner is a columnist at Forbes.com, co-editor of the website, ExtremeLuxuryGetaways.com, and a contributor to New York Lifestyles Magazine. Michael is also a writing professor at Touro College in New York.