Musement takes a look at ten unforgettable ways for travelers to experience America.
America the beautiful is a traveler’s dream. The 50 states span six time zones and boast some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes. “From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam”, here are ten of the most epic trips in America.
1.Take a Road Trip on the Pacific Coast Highway
The designation of California’s State Route 1 as an All-American Road means you’re guaranteed breathtaking scenery as you cruise along under sunny skies. The section know as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) hugs the coast between San Francisco and San Diego. The drive can be done in a day, but taking your time is part of the fun. Mile after mile of ancient Redwoods, rocky coastline, sandy beaches, and panoramic vistas invite you to stop and stay for a while, soaking in their natural beauty.
2. Wonder at the Wilderness in Yosemite National Park
The vast wilderness of Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevadas is a popular destination for nature lovers. The meadows, mountains, lakes, and waterfalls are a stunning backdrop for year-round activities like fishing, horseback riding, rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and even panning for gold. Hiking from the floor of Yosemite Valley to the peak of Glacier Point is the perfect activity for solo reflection or family fun. After the sun sets behind the Half Dome and El Capitan, outdoor adventurers can rest up and refuel at one of the park’s many restaurants that serve everything from casual cuisine to culinary masterpieces.
3. Seek Adventure in the Smoky Mountains
Visitors who are curious about where the Smoky Mountains got their name need only watch as the fog slowly settles over the valley, changing the landscape from green to smoky blue. Part of the Appalachians, this magnificent mountain range is home to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the most visited national park in America. Land and water activities are available in the park and the surrounding area for adventure seekers of all ages and abilities. Visitors can hike part of the Appalachian Trail, sample locally produced wine and beer, or simply take in the spectacular scenery before getting good night’s sleep in accommodations that range from rustic cabins to mountainside resorts.
4. Ride the Rapids in the Grand Canyon
If rafting in the Grand Canyon isn’t already on your bucket list, it should be! Riding the rapids of the Colorado River with an experienced guide is the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you take a single- or multi-day trip, you can stop along the banks to hike, have a picnic, or get some great shots of the towering rock formations that line the winding river. The guides are knowledgeable about the nature and history of the canyon and can point out wildlife and landmarks along the way. Experienced rafters can embark on solo trips with permits from the National Park Service.
5. Go Wild for the West in Wyoming
You’ll go wild for the west with a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a lively recreation area in the Rockies. Close to Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole is perfect for outdoor adventurers. Hiking and rafting are popular summertime activities in the parks. Wintertime offers snowboarding, skiing, snowmobiling, and dogsledding. Go on a wildlife expedition to catch a glimpse of grizzly bears, moose, bison, and elk. The streets of Jackson, the area’s largest town, are lined with Western-themed storefronts and art galleries. Wannabe cowpokes who’ve worked up a hunger can mosey on in to restaurants with names like the Mangy Moose and the Gun Barrel Steak & Game House.
6. Find a Hot Spot at Yellowstone
Spread out over three states and 3,500 square miles, Yellowstone National Park was the first national park in the world and it continues to attract millions of people every year who want to experience its beauty first-hand. The park service offers guided tours, but exploring the park on your own is easy as most of the main tourist attractions are located just off the Grand Loop Road. One of the most popular is Boiling River, a natural hot tub created where the Mammoth Hot Springs meet the cool waters of the Gardner Mountain River. And then there’s one of the most Instagrammed spots in Wyoming: Old Faithful, a geyser so famous that it has its own webcam. The road also takes you past meadows and petrified forests where you can see bears, wolves, bison, elk, and antelope roaming freely throughout the park.
7. Live Out Your Olympic Dreams in Lake Tahoe
Located in the Sierra Nevadas on the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a thrill seeker’s dream! The site of the 1960 Winter Olympics, Lake Tahoe is most often associated with winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating, but summer visitors will find plenty to do here, too. For a bird’s-eye view of the area, tourists can soar through the skies on a hang glider or in a hot air balloon. Back on the ground, there are opportunities for paddle boarding, fishing, boating, and swimming in the crystal clear waters of the area’s rivers and lakes.
8. Get Active in Asheville
A road trip down the Blue Ridge Parkway takes you through the town of Asheville, North Carolina. Well-known for the historic Biltmore Estate, the town also has a vibrant arts and crafts scene. Active visitors can take in the scenery while hiking part of the Appalachian Trail or getting out on the water in a canoe or kayak. Those who are even more adventurous can book a backpacking and rock climbing trip in the backcountry of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Accommodations range from quaint B&Bs to luxury resorts and retreats.
9. Try Out the Trails in Vermont
The network of trails maintained by the Kingdom Trail Association in Vermont is heralded by in-the-know cyclers as being home to some of the best mountain biking in the country. Over one-hundred miles of well-marked trails perfect for riders of all levels cut through the picturesque terrain. When the snow falls, riders can navigate the trails on off-road fatbikes, snowshoes, or cross-country skis. Day passes and memberships are available at the association’s Welcome Center, where staff members can help newcomers customize a route based on your experience and length of time you have to spend.
10. Hang Ten in Hawaii
While there’s no shortage of epic things to do in Hawaii, there are several that you just can’t miss. Watching the sun rise over the volcanic landscape in Haleakalā National Park, for example, is such a popular experience that tourists now have to request a permit through the National Park Service 60 days in advance. Fortunately, you don’t have to plan quite as far in advance to experience the wonders of the rainforest in Kauai. The flora and fauna on this tropical island covers a large part of its surface and has earned it the nickname “the Garden Isle.” And any Hawaiian vacation wouldn’t be complete without surfing the waves at Waikiki Beach. If you’re a beginner, start with a one- to two-hour lesson taught by experienced islanders.