As far as amazing places go, there’s truly no place like home. After all, why fret about exorbitant airfare to far-flung locales when you can experience some of the world’s most stunning sights right here in North America?From magical canyons to one of the world’s largest caves, here are 20 amazing places you can visit without leaving North America.
1.) Canyonlands National Park, USA – Utah’s Canyonlands National Park is an authentic playground of rivers, canyons, mesas, and arches. Whether you want to raft the Colorado River, bike the epic Island in the Sky, or explore the rugged expanse in a Jeep, Canyonlands is a true adventurer’s paradise.
2.) Sima de las Cotorras, Mexico – Deep in Chiapas, Mexico, there’s a 500ft.-wide sinkhole full of ancient cave paintings and wild parrots: Sima de las Cotorras. Standing at the edge is breathtaking enough, but you can actually rappel down the walls to see the massive cave on the sinkhole floor.
3.) Horseshoe Bend, USA – As one of the most famous stops along the Colorado River’s path through Arizona, Horseshoe Bend should come as no surprise to lovers of the Southwest. Though familiar, hiking the ridge to see the river 1,000 feet below is an amazing experience that just has to be done in person.
4.) Athabasca Glacier, Canada – How about a 3-mile-long glacier that you can visit in your car? That’s the Athabasca Glacier, located in the spectacular Columbia Icefield near Jasper in the Canadian Rockies. Visit soon, though, as this behemoth beauty has been receding at a rapid clip for the past century.
5.) Crowsnest Pass, Canada – Crowsnest Pass is one of the most beautiful stops along Canada’s Continental Divide. There are countless trails, rivers, lakes, and hills to explore, but the not-so-outdoorsy can also visit the area’s historic mines or simply grab a hot coco and enjoy the Northern Lights.
6.) Upper Antelope Canyon, USA – Ah…Upper Antelope Canyon, the toast of landscape photographers everywhere and, with the exception of the Wave, possibly the most unique rock formation in the US. Try to book a guided visit for the morning when the interplay of light and shadow is at its most majestic.
7.) Tamul Falls, Mexico – These spectacular turquoise falls are only a day’s drive from Texas. In the town of Tanchachín, you can raft up the canyon, passing by spectacular rock formations and the ancient ruins of Tamtoc, before arriving at one of the continent’s most beautifully blue waterfalls.
8.) Sandbanks Provincial Park, Canada – Set on the scenic coast of Lake Ontario, Sandbanks Provincial Park is like a little slice of Florida in Canada. There are sandy beaches, calm waters perfect for water-sports, and, as many travelers can attest, some of the most beautiful sunsets in North America.
9.) Cañon de la Angostura, Mexico – The only word that truly describes Cañon de la Angostura is “magical.” Suspended boardwalks take you deep into a canyon wonderland of giant waterfalls and crystal-blue waters dotted with occasional ladders leading to hidden caves. As we said, magical.
10.) Custer State Park, USA – Custer State Park has a natural bounty that rivals that of any national park in the West. Herds of bison and pronghorn antelope roam golden prairies and shady pine forests and the best part is that it’s close to many other iconic landmarks like Mt. Rushmore.
11.) Avalanche Lake, USA – After a 2-hour hike among the peaks and valleys of Montana’s Glacier National Park, lucky travelers will arrive at Avalanche Lake, an unbelievably clear lake nestled among snowy mountains and cascading waterfalls. Can you imagine a better place for a mid-summer swim?
12.) Johnston Canyon, USA – Near Banff, Alberta, you’ll find the Johnston Canyon trail, an easy hike which runs along the rock formations, emerald pools, and dazzling waterfalls of Johnston Creek. For a different perspective, try visiting in winter when the waterfalls freeze into surreal white sculptures.
13.) Trail Ridge Road, USA – Trail Ridge Road in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park offers some of the most breathtaking views found anywhere. Whether you traverse the trails on foot or drive straight to the top, standing 11,000ft. above the glorious Rockies is an sight not to be missed!
14.) Banff National Park, Canada – The sheer variety of mountains, trails, and glacial lakes in Alberta’s Banff National Park could merit an article of their own. What can we say? It’s easily the most famous national park in Canada and simply one of the most awesomely beautiful places on Earth.
15.) Grutas de Cacahuamilpan, Mexico – Even seasoned travelers are surprised to learn that one of the world’s largest cave systems is in Guerrero, Mexico. You can venture a mile into the earth and discover stalactite-lined galleries hundreds of feet wide. Did we mention they often hold concerts inside?
16.) Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center, USA – The Grizzly & Wolf Discovery Center near Yellowstone is a sanctuary for orphaned wildlife and, since the park is set up to mimic the surrounding wilderness, it offers one of the best chances to see North America’s large predators in a (nearly) natural setting.
17.) Mammoth Hot Springs, USA – After seeing the grizzlies, head over to Mammoth Hot Springs, one of the nation’s most otherworldly geothermal areas. With its boiling springs, ghostly-white terraces and technicolor pools, there are few places on Earth quite like Mammoth Hot Springs.
18.) Mauna Kea Observatories, USA – Ok, ok…we admit this may be cheating, but Hawaii’s Mauna Kea Observatories are soooo spectacular we just had to add it! Located high above the clouds on a Hawaiian volcano, we challenge you to find a better sunset (or star-watching site) anywhere.
19.) Rio Pescados, Mexico – North America has plenty of rafting-ready canyons, but how about jungles? Well, Rio Pescados near Veracruz, Mexico offers just that. This eco-tourism hot spot has exhilarating rafting, ziplines, and hiking and, thanks to its climate, you can visit Rio Pescado year-round.
20.) Watkins Glen State Park, USA – New York’s Watkins Glen State Park proves you don’t need to head west for amazing natural settings. Try the Gorge Trail which heads past nearly 20 different waterfalls along with quiet pools and interesting rock formations.