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50 Bucket List Destinations in the USA (with map and photos)

The United States has some of the most diverse landscapes out of any country in the world. From beaches to deserts and mountains to swamps... you could spend a lifetime exploring everything there is to offer here. This list is solely opinions based off places I personally have been, since I cannot speak on the places I have yet to see. I hope you’re inspired to make the trip to some of these incredible destinations! Also, these are in no particular order! Enjoy!

1. Cummins Falls, Tennessee (map)

There are very few waterfalls that enable you to climb all over them (legally) and explore the grandiose they have to offer. This waterfall is one of them! It's so incredible and just might be my favorite waterfall in the United States. Don't forget to snag your permit though!


2. Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado (map)

Imagine 11,000 foot tall sand dunes surrounded by 14,000 ft. peaks! It's absolutely incredible. This is a National Park that you'll want to check off your list. Don't forget to bring your sand board or rent one there during high season!


3. Enchantments, Washington (map)

Okay, I know I said this list is in no particular order but this is one of my personal favorite places in the country! It's located near Leavenworth, Washington and it's absolutely astounding. It doesn't come easy though--it's a 22 mile hike! If you're willing and able... I can't recommend this place enough! Jagged peaks, turquoise lakes, and solitude. If you don't want to do the entire thing, Colchuck Lake is on the trail and won't disappoint. There's two different trailheads for the entire Enchantments point-to-point trail but I recommend the trailhead I linked above.


4. Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor, Oregon (map)

I'd dreamt of going to this place for so long and when I finally made it to the Pacific Northwest, it did not disappoint. The aggressive waves crashing into the uniquely formed rock formations really is a sight to see.


5. Ruby Beach, Washington (map)

Imagine bonfires on the beach with the salty air blowing through your hair. It's so fun and has the best vibes! It's a place you must check out while you're in Olympic National Park. It's also near the town of Forks, where Twilight took place! Team Edward or Jacob??!


6. Yosemite National Park (map)

What more do I need to say? Everybody needs to go to this place in their lifetime! There's so much to do in this incredible, world renowned park. From Yosemite Valley to el Capitan... this is a rock climber's paradise. Don't worry though, from waterfalls to iconic viewpoints, there's plenty to do from the ground, too!


7. Ouray, Colorado (map)

Oftentimes referred to as "The Switzerland of America", this is one of my all time favorite small mountain towns in Colorado. I have a detailed blog post about it here. There are big huge mountains in every direction you look and the people are just sweet as can be. Even if you're just driving through, I suggest you get out and explore the area for an hour or so!


8. Moab, Utah (map)

With two national parks (Arches and Canyonlands) and one state park (Deadhorse), Moab is an adventurer's paradise! There's hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and 4x4 off roading jeep tours! The red-orange rock formations will make you feel like you've suddenly stepped onto a different planet!


9. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming (map)

Jackson Hole is home to some of the most jagged and distinguishable peaks in the country! The Tetons are really something and they often get covered in low clouds, with the tops of them peeking out the top! Beware though, it'll cost you a pretty penny to stay near the park in Jackson Hole but it's absolutely worth it! Of course each traveler's budget is different!


10. Stowe, Vermont (map)

This town is absolutely adorable! Without a doubt, the best time to travel here is in the fall because the trees are popping with the brightest hues of oranges and reds! Keep an eye out for peak fall foliage because it's truly one of the most incredible things you could see in the US. It has all of the things a small New England town can give. Cute shops, little cafes, and of course the signature white steeples towering over the town.


11. Caddo Lake State Park, Texas (map)

While the swamps of the south are slightly eerie and kind of look like they're from a spooky movie, they're also one of the most unique places I've ever seen! Perhaps it's because I'm not accustomed to them since I'm not from the southern states but nonetheless I was very impressed. There are Cyprus Trees growing in water that's so still it looks like it's reflection is a mirror! If you're lucky you might even spot an alligator. Check out my detailed travel guide for this place here!!


12. Glacier National Park, Montana (map)

If you're a mountain lover like I am, this place is for you. The park has a very small window for hiking season due to the harsh winters but it's worth the trip in the summer! Filled with turquoise colored lakes, climbable mountains, and of course, glaciers!! It's also bear country so make sure to have your bear spray with you! We're in their environment after all.


13. Shoshone Falls, Idaho (map)

This is one of those places where you can pretty much drive to, which makes it a quick easy stop in Idaho. Standing at impressive 212 feet high, I was definitely impressed when I saw it for the first time. It's very kid and family friendly, which makes a great stop if you're on a roadtrip with the kiddos.


14. Mt. Rainier National Park (map)

From fire lookouts above the clouds to the majestic Mt. Rainier itself... this was one of those parks I wanted to go to from the moment I saw photos of it. People from the Pacific Northwest seem to be used to cloud inversions and moody weather but I am not. The conditions there are always so unique. If you're there during the summer you'll witness fields and fields so full of wildflowers that you'll think you're in a painting!


15. Valley of Fire, Nevada (map)

Around an hour's drive from Las Vegas, this is a perfect day trip from the city. Filled with windy roads weaving in and out of the Aztec Sandstone rock formations that quite literally look like they're on fire, makes it for a really cool spot, especially for photography. There are also some slot canyons there, too!


16. Monument Valley, Utah/Arizona border (map)

If you've seen Forest Gump you're probably familiar with this infamous scene! The unique looking buttes are located in the Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park and absolutely tower over the valley below. While it's out in the middle of nowhere, it's one of the greatest places to see in the American West. Be prepared to share the road with other tourists taking their photos for the obligatory Monument Valley road shot!


17. Devil’s Bathtub, Virginia (map)

What a place! This is one of the more fascinating hikes I've done, mainly due to the numerous river crossings that are necessary in order to make it there! There are flash floods often, so be careful if you go and be sure to check the forecast! There's a rope swing and some of the most crystal clear water I've seen in the U.S. Beware if you get in the water though, it is COLD! Check out my detailed blog post about it here!!


18.Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming (map)

Home to the Old Faithful Geyser, which erupts to around 140 feet in the air every hour or so, is something you must see! There's also Grand Prismatic, which contains the most colorful hues I've ever seen in nature!! We actually took a scenic flight over the park enabling us to get a bird's eye view of the impressive hot spring! Be sure to check out the waterfalls here too. Yellowstone is also home to bison and bears, so keep your eyes peeled! Also, we were on a scenic flight, this was not taken on a drone (those a prohibited in national parks).


19. Acadia National Park, Maine (map)

This is also a place worth visiting in the fall because of the array of colors it presents! It's incredible because it's right on the coast, so you'll get a different landscape than a lot of the US National Parks. Be sure to check out the highest mountain in the park, Cadillac Mountain. From October-May it's the first place you can see the sunrise in the United States! I also recommend checking out The Beehive Loop trail if you're into more adventurous hikes! Thunder Hole is also another spot I recommend going to if you want to see some ginormous crashing waves!


20. North Cascades National Park, Washington (map)

Only a few hours from Seattle, this national park is somewhere that shouldn't be missed! There's bright turquoise lakes, jaw dropping mountains, and glaciers! We did one particular hike called "Sahale Arm" and it was incredible!


21. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona (map)

I'm sure you've seen photos of it, and for good reason! It's just as it sounds, a horseshoe shaped section of the Colorado River. If you visit at sunset, the sun will slowly lower behind the scene, making for some epic photographs.


22. Hoh Rainforest, Washington (map)

Another spot near the Olympic Peninsula that needs to be on your list! I've never seen so much greenery in my entire life. It gets an average of a whopping 12 feet of rain per year! It's quite a peaceful place if the crowds aren't too bad. The trees are covered in hanging moss and it really makes for a fairy-like environment!


23. Mt. Tamalpais State Park, California (map)

Okay this is hands down one of the most draw dropping scenes I've ever seen in my life! It's only a dozen or so miles from San Francisco and provides the most stunning views. It's not uncommon for there to be a sea of clouds that form beneath you, looking like you're above the earth. It's truly magical and I recommend going there for sunset! You won't believe your eyes!


24. Thor’s Well, Oregon (map)

Thor's Well is a unique hole formation in the rocks, making it seem like the water from the ocean drains into it. During high tide, the water seems to shoot back out of it and then pour back in, making for a very mesmerizing thing to watch. Be extremely careful though because of how strong the waters are. If you fall in, you will likely be out of luck...


25. Maroon Bells, Colorado (map)

Located in Aspen, these are said to be the most photographed peaks in the country. World renowned golden aspens in the fall make for a scene from a postcard. It can get overly crowded and a shuttle system is now in place, which is a hassle for planning but nice for limited capacity! Be sure to go here, you'll be in awe!


26. Potash Evaporation Ponds, Utah (map)

These bright blue pools in the middle of Utah's red desert looks like it should be fake! These photos were taken at sunrise so you can't really tell how dramatic the color is... but I can assure you it's blue! You can get a decent view of them from Deadhorse State Park, or else you can drive down to the Potash Scenic Byway. Essentially the miners pump water from underground to get the potash brine. The idea is that it crystallizes and is then formed into a fertilizer! Science is pretty cool, right?!


27.Goblin Valley State Park, Utah (map)

This place is so unique because of the mushroom shaped formations all around, resembling giant goblins everywhere! There are also little yurts in the middle of everything and are able to be rented out. You're able to climb all over and get better vantage points! It's truly a unique place and it kind of looks like you're on a different planet.


28. Zion National Park, Utah (map)

Think red-ish-orange rocks with a stark contrast of green waters below. It's astounding and there are a bunch of unique hikes there. The "Scariest Hike in America" is here, known as "Angel's Landing". Another hike we did that was particularly unique because the whole thing is walking through the river, is called "The Narrows". It's so much fun but don't forget your water shoes and use caution with your camera gear! This park gets extremely crowded and shuttle buses are required for certain things, so plan ahead!


29. Burgess Falls State Park, Tennessee (map)

This state park is home to four waterfalls but the main attraction is Burgess Falls. It's around 1.5 miles to get to the falls and you'll be surrounded by lush greenery the whole way. The tourist viewpoint is from above but we saw local kayakers down at the bottom of the falls!