Travelling is, as we all know, a completely unique and personal experience. That’s precisely why it’s so popular. Whether you want to schmooze with the locals of a country way out of your comfort zone or relax in a familiar, comfortable and luxurious resort, your own perfect trip is just waiting for you.
When it comes to destinations, then, your options are endless. If you like the hustle, bustle and annoying traffic of the big city, then a metropolis like New York, London or Tokyo is for you. If you’ve ever tried to drive so much as a yard in New York, you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.
Having new experiences, after all, is the key to what travel is all about. Getting right in there at ground level with new people, then, is the best way to go about that. The noise of the big city isn’t for everyone, though.
Let’s not forget another great impetus for traveling: getting away from it all. From the stresses of everyday life: work, family and all the rest. Getting a little solitude goes a long way.
At some time in our lives, we all crave some distance. Time to clear our heads, get out of the office and enjoy nature. The vast, varied landscape of the United States is a fantastic place to do just that. If that’s the sort of vacation you fancy taking next, then this one’s for you. Settle in and enjoy this rundown of 20 excellent nature expeditions you can take in the USA, from the beautiful Angels Landing at Zion National Park to the Grand Canyon's magnificent Mooney Falls.
If you want a challenging, but beautiful hike between granite cliffs and passing by wonderful waterfalls, then this is the perfect hike for you. The hike starts the Happy Isle shuttle stop, which is easily accessed, as the shuttle frequently leaves the Yosemite Valley.
Whilst you hike the Misty Falls Trail, you get amazing views of both the Vernal and Nevada falls, as well as Half Dome. On the way down, you can choose to go back the way you came - think of that option on your way up, would you really want to repeat some of those parts? Or head back down the John Muir trail, and get more unique views of the valley.
New York state is more than just New York City. Upstate New York is home to the finger lakes and their unique scenery. Watkins Glen State Park is located just outside the town of Watkins Glen, located at the southern end of Seneca Lake. The hike is a unique round trip, with both a Rim and Gorge trail, either side of the Glen Creek.
Along these routes, you get to see some amazing waterfalls - there's 19 across the length of the trail, ending at the beautiful Rainbow Falls. Spot some nature whilst you're there!
The Stony Man Trail in Shenandoah National Park is a popular hike up to the second highest peak in Shenandoah National Park leading to some of the best views of the park. The hike is short - only about a mile, but it's all steep and uphill. Although once you're there, it's worth it.
The hike is linked to plenty of others - including the Appalachian Trail - if this short hike is too short for you. There's an added bonus of a lodge at the end of the trail, where you can buy an ice cream and cool down.
If you're wanting to travel further afar than the 48 contiguous states, why not head to Alaska and check out the Kenai Fjords National Park. The national park is located about a two-hour drive south of the state's capital, Anchorage. The Harding Icefield tray is an 8.2-mile roundtrip taking your through forests and meadows before you eventually look out over the extensive icefield.
The trail isn't for the faint-hearted, it's a challenging uphill route full of switchbacks and precarious paths. If it sounds too difficult for you then don't worry, you don't have to make it up to the top for the amazing views.
If there's something more impressive than looking out over the Grand Canyon, it's getting to step into the canyon itself! The South Kaibab trail is accessible from Grand Canyon Village. There's a convenient and free shuttle that takes you from the village to the trailhead.
Make sure you have plenty of water with you as you start the descent and be prepared - it'll twice as long on the way back as it does on the way down. Start the trail as early as you can to beat the heat of the day.
Lake Tahoe is a beautiful, clear blue lake located on the California and Nevada border, north of San Francisco. The Rubicon Trail takes you alongside Emerald Bay and past waterfalls and lighthouses. The whole trail is a 13mile long roundtrip. Start the trail early in the morning, or the heat will become too much and you won't be able to finish the trail. The trail is part flat and easy, and in other parts, it picks up and is steeper and rockier.
The West Maroon Trail is located close to Aspen, Colorado. It's a 20.4-mile round trip hike that isn't for the fainthearted. It's a difficult hike, no thanks to the elevation of Colorado as a whole. There are shuttles from the local town that take you to the trailhead, but make sure you pack plenty of water, as there are limited sources along the length of the trail.
Depending on the season, you may see some snow, otherwise meadows full of wildflowers, or even passing smoke from nearby wildfires. Halfway around the trail, you'll even get the chance to see a beautiful crater lake.
If you're planning on staying on the East Coast rather than the West, there are still plenty of options for you. Acadia National Park is located on Mt Desert Island, off the coast of Maine, and is home of the Precipice Trail. The Precipice Trail is the most challenging trail in all of Maine, involving a 1000ft almost vertical climb up Champlain Mountain. Make sure you research ahead of time, as you'll only want to climb in great weather conditions, and the mountain is closed for part of the year for the Peregrine Falcon nesting season.
Angels Landing is located in the Zion National Park in southwestern Utah. The hike to Angels Landing is a challenging 5-m
ile round trip. It's not an easy hike, with sheer drops to the side of the trail and steep switchbacks. Part of the trail even includes clinging on to chains drilled into the red rocks. From Angels Landing itself, you have amazing views over the canyon, but it's definitely not a hike for people afraid of heights.
The Mooney falls are located deep in the Grand Canyon. They're a popular place to visit, with a permit system in place, and you have to have a reservation at the campsite before you can begin the hike. If you turn up without a reservation, you will have to turn around and head back. Start the hike in the small town of Supai, and follow the trail past the Havasu Falls, and find yourself looking at the beauty of the Mooney Falls. The water crashes down onto the lakes, which are full of mesmerising blue water.
Despite their location, they're not part of the Grand Canyon, they're actually in one of its side canyons.
Kentucky may be known for its bourbon and chicken, but there's also some beautiful scenery around. The Red River Gorge is located on the east of the state and is located in the Daniel Boone National Forest. The area is full of different hikes, and you have the option to stay in either on a campsite or in a cabin.
It's a great place to visit if you're travelling with pets, as they're allowed in all areas of the park! The area is famous for its zip line, which can send you off in five different directions, showing you different aspects of the park
Glacier National Park is located in northern Montana, close to the Canadian border. The Highline loop is an 11.8-mile loop, where every corner will bring new beauty and something else for you to admire. There's plenty of wildlife and wildflowers to spot along the route. Make sure you get a permit before you leave for the hike, as without a permit you won't be able to hike.
The John Muir Trail snakes across California, starting in Yosemite Valley, and ending by Mt Whitney in the Sequoia National Park. It carves a route across the Sierra Nevada mountains.
It's not a quick walk, with the website for the trail itself recommending taking 30 days to complete the hike. If you can't put aside this much time, there are seven different segments to the hike, which you can complete in up to a week each. The cabin and camping reservations book up quickly, so make sure you get in as early as you can to make the bookings for your dates.
The Pacific Crest Trail is said to be one of the best hikes in the world. It runs from the Canadian border of Washington to the Mexican border of California. Parts of it also cross over the John Muir Trail. Again, for this hike, you will need to apply for permits before you start. The hike was made famous by the book and film adaptation of Wild, which has made it more popular in recent years. Make sure you look up the trail before you start, as there is maintenance occurring on the trail currently.
The Cirque of the Towers is an 18-mile round trip hike in western Wyoming. Halfway along the hike, you'll stumble across a beautiful mountain lake, as well as plenty of streams and a handful of waterfalls.
The hike is also a less than three-hour drive away from Grand Teton National Park and about three and a half hours away from Yellowstone National Park. The hike gets its name from its location, where at one point you're completely surrounded by impressive mountains.
Mount Healy is located in Alaska, north of its capital, Anchorage. The Mt Healy Overlook trail takes you part way up the mountainside. It's a 5-mile round trip and gets progressively steeper the further up you head. To get to the 'middle point', it can take up to two hours, with a steep, switchback section before you reach the top, and get to bask in the views. From the top of the trail, you'll get amazing views of the Denali National Park.
The Appalachian Trail is another of America's most iconic trails. It runs from Springer Mountain in Georgia through to Mount Katahdin in Maine.
The Trail as a whole runs for over 2000-miles. If you're planning on walking the AT, you best be prepared - it can take months (usually 5-7) to complete, and can be more expensive than you expect, once you've added in all your equipment, places to sleep, insurances - and the rest!
Register with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, as they like to monitor the number of hikers on the route.
The Cape Henry Trail in Virginia, not far from Virginia Beach, crosses over the beautiful First Landing State Park. The trail is approximately 7.5-miles in length. The hike is great for either walking or cycling its length. Dogs are also able to walk this trail, but they must be kept on a leash. The path goes from being an easily walkable path to sandy in some portions, so be ready for the changing terrain.
The Williams Lake Trail is located in the north of New Mexico, high up in the mountains. The trail is 3.7-miles long through the Taos Ski Valley.
From the trailhead, it's approximately 2-miles to Williams Lake. It's one of the more favourable hikes in the area, but be prepared, as it can be steep at some points. There are also some waterfalls along the route to spot. Bring gear for all weathers, as thunderstorms can roll in at a moments notice.
Snowmass Wilderness, in Maroon Bells, is located east of the Denver, Colorado. The twin peaks in Maroon Falls are two of the most photographed mountains in Colorado, and from this trail, you get to see some amazing views of these mountains. Enjoy the hike, the views of the surrounding mountains, and the lakes and waterfalls.
The hike is difficult at the start, thanks to the steepness of the trail, though the further you get in, the easier it is. Be warned though - bear canisters are compulsory for this area!