May 30, 2024 | Eul Basa

Surreal Places In The USA You Won't Believe Actually Exist


Havasu Falls, Arizona

Havasu Falls is a true paradise on Earth. Located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation within Arizona's famous Grand Canyon, the breathtaking waterfall cascades 100 feet down into a turquoise pool that is bordered by towering, deep-orange limestone cliffs.

HavasaLee Render | Flickr

Neversink Pit, Alabama

Eerie and mysterious, the Neversink Pit is a mix between a sinkhole and a cave. The open air pit, which is located in Jackson County, Alabama, plunges 162 feet into the ground and attracts both seasoned cave divers and curious hikers. Those seeking to explore the pit must obtain a climbing permit and make a half-hour climb up a mountain.

1710315521620George Steinmetz | Getty Images

Mendenhall Ice Caves, Alaska

Just outside the city of Juneau, Alaska is a winter wonderland waiting to be explored. The Mendenhall Ice Caves are a collection of frozen caverns that form inside of giant glaciers every cold season. Because glaciers are dynamic systems, the cave patterns change every year—but you can always count on mesmerizing hues of blue to be present in the ice, dancing in the light.

1710313672687arctic_council | Flickr

Blanchard Springs Caverns, Arkansas

Deep in the Ozarks lie the Blanchard Springs Caverns, an intricate cave system that was carved by flowing water more than 350 million years ago. The site offers three in-depth tours that take you on lighted paths full of stalacites, stalagmites, and flowstones. Just make sure to bring a durable pair of hiking boots with you before you go.

1710313571727Blanchard Springs Caverns

Lava Beds, California

The Lava Beds National Monument are a rare natural wonder formed by past volcanic activity. Over 700 natural hardened tubes were scuplted by molten lava 65,000 years ago, and spelunkers from all over the world come to inspect the mystifying rock formations. 

1710312269908Shutterstock

Paint Mines, Colorado

El Paso County, Colorado is home to Paint Mines Interpretive Park, a colorful rocky landscape with an intriguing history. Thousands of years ago, Native American tribes in the region would collect the colorful clays in the rocks and use them to make paints. Today, the Paint Mines is a tourist attraction that includes four miles of scenic trails.

PaintminesBryce Bradford | Flickr

Thimble Islands, Connecticut

The Thimble Islands is an archipelago made up of 365 islands just off the coast of Branford, Connecticut. Historically, the islands did not have much value; but today, some of them are owned by wealthy families who have built private vacation homes onto them. Only six of the islands receive electrical power through underwater cables.

1710335946173William Pitt | Sotheby's

Coastal Salt Marshes, Delaware

Delaware's coastline consists of a number of salt marshes that offer more than just a picturesque view. These coastal wetlands actually play a significant role in mitigating climate change due to the carbon-absorbing activity of their diverse flora. Aside from their scientific importance, the salt marshes are also a hotspot for birdwatchers and eco-lovers alike.

1710338275642Visit Delaware

Devil's Den, Florida

You may have snorkeled at a beach before, but have you ever snorkeled in an underground prehistoric spring? The Devil's Den near Williston, Florida is a premier destination for snorkeling, with rare sights such as underwater stalacites and fossil beds to see. The karst cavern contains crystal-clear waters at a comfortable 72-degrees F, as well as a natural skylight that beautifully illuminates the area.

1710338834679The Detour Duo | YouTube

Providence Canyon, Georgia

Georgia might be the last place you'd expect to see a canyon, but it's actually home to one—and it's truly breathtaking. Known as Providence Canyon, the soil-rich landscape consists of a network of gorges that are tinted with spectacular hues of orange just like the Grand Canyon. Visitors can explore the scenic area via its 10 miles of hiking trails.

1710339036365Kay Gaensler | Flickr

Stairway To Heaven, Hawaii

The Stairway to Heaven in Oahu, Hawaii offers perhaps the most spectacular view of the island; but adventurers beware—one must brave 4,000 steps atop the towering Ko'olua mountain range to reach the peak, and the structure itself is steep and unstable. Despite zero reports of deaths or injuries, the stairs are off-limits to the public, with trespassers getting fined as much as $1,000 USD as of 2024.

HaikustairsMichael Keany | Flickr

Craters of the Moon, Idaho

In the high desert of southern Idaho, there is a bizarre landscape that gives off a very extraterrestrial feel. The rugged region is called Craters of the Moon and it consists of rock formations that resemble a lunar terrain, giving hikers an otherworldly experience.

1710339615070Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve | Flickr

Starved Rock, Illinois

Starved Rock State Park is rated the #1 attraction in the Illinois, and for good reason. The park is unlike anything else in the flat Midwestern state, offering many multidimensional sights such as moss-covered canyons, flowing waterfalls, and winding green boardwalks.

StarvedrockShutterstock

Indiana Dunes, Indiana

Nature lovers will appreciate the vast plant and animal diversity at Indiana Dunes National Park. Occupying over 15 miles of the Indiana coast, the region is composed of many different ecosystems, from woodlands and prairies to wetlands and, of course, sand dunes.

1710342981189Visit IndianaMaquoketa Caves, Iowa

13 caves, 6 trails, and 192 acres of lush woodland await thrillseekers in Iowa's Maquoketa Caves State Park. There are intriguing points of interest throughout the entire park, including a natural bridge, a balanced rock, enormous bluffs, and more.

1710343243477Phil Roeder | Flickr

Monument Rocks, Kansas

There's something so ethereal about the giant chalk formations in Kansas. Aside from the fact that their origins can be traced back to 80 million years ago when sediment began to settle on the floor of a Cretaceous inland sea, their striking shapes make them a breathtaking wonder for the eyes to behold.

1710343667629Wikimedia Commons

Lost River Cave, Kentucky

It's not everyday you get to take a boat ride through an ancient cave. Kentucky's Lost River Cave, located in the city of Bowling Green, is a massive cave system that has flowing water running through it. The main attraction is a boat tour that cruises along the Lost River, but visitors can also explore the beautiful nature trails inside the 72-acre park.

1710343772970Lost River CaveBarataria Preserve, Louisiana

In 2021, the Barataria preserve suffered a major blow as Hurricane Ida damaged many of its trails; however, work is being done to restore those trails with new, sustainable designs to bolster the area against future hurricanes. Today, the preserve is still open to the public, offering 26,000 acres for wildlife viewing, hunting, and fishing.

JeanlafitteShutterstock

Baxter State Park, Maine

Baxter State Park is for true wilderness explorers. Its founder, Percival P. Baxter, dedicated the land to animals first and to humans second. His sincere hope was that the beauty and magnificence of the park would help humans gain a deeper respect for nature and help them understand their impact on the environment.

BaxterstateparkShutterstock

Harpers Ferry, Maryland

The tranquil town of Harpers Ferry, Maryland has both a rich background and a timeless beauty. History buffs will appreciate its connections to American culture and industry, as well as the old-world charm of the town itself. The best view of Harpers Ferry can be seen from the vantage of the Overlook Cliff, just off the Maryland Heights Trail.

HarpersferryWikimedia Commons

Aquinnah Cliffs, Massachusetts

Small towns have the unique ability to transport you back in time, and Martha's Vineyard is no exception. One of its most appealing qualities is its sandstone and clay cliffside, which borders the town and rise 130 feet high from the ground. A walk along the shore will definitely make you feel like time has halted.

1710346678999Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism

Torch Lake, Michigan

Forbes Magazine once said that Michigan's Torch Lake "looks exactly like the Caribbean," and its easy to see why. The lake is known for its rich turquoise blue color that is a rare sight so far north (though its water temperature is a different story). Its main attraction is an offshore sandbar where lively beach parties often take place.

Torchlakemarada | Flickr

Niagara Cave, Minnesota

In 1924, three pigs fell through a sinkhole in Minnesota, leading to the discovery of a series of underground tunnels—or so the story goes. The subterranean labyrinth has been naturally carved out by running water for centuries, giving rise to the undulated patterns in the rock walls. Points of interest in Niagara Cave include a 60-foot-tall waterfall, calcite flowstone, and 400-million-year-old fossils.

1710525709748Bruce Guenter | Flickr

Red Bluff, Mississippi

Known as Mississippi's "Little Grand Canyon,"  the Red Bluff is an otherwordly 150-foot gorge that was created over millions of years. Its characteristic red, orange, and purple-colored soils make it a sight to behold, especially in the daytime when sunlight strikes its surface.

RedbluffWikimedia Commons

Johnson's Shut-Ins, Missouri

The uncommon geology at Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park in Missouri makes it a worthwhile destination to visit. The age-old rock formations are representative of 1.4 billion years of geologic history, which makes swimming here a special experience. It's not often that one gets the opportunity to swim in ancient waters.

JohnsonsshutinsMary Allen

Wild Goose Island, Montana

Within the vastness of Glacier National Park in Montana lies a tiny island that rises only 14 feet from the surface of a tucked-away lake. Wild Goose Island is one of the most charming scenes in the state, attracting photographers from all over who willingly make the 6.5-mile trek to capture it.

1710385424494Andrew Parlette | Flickr

Toadstool Geologic Park, Nebraska

Some of the most unique geological formations in the country can be found in Toadstool Geologic Park, also known as the Nebraska badlands. The oddly-shaped stones can be observed along three hiking trails, and the yellow-tinged landscape can make visitors feel like they are in a completely different world.

ToadstoolShutterstock

Sand Mountain, Nevada

An off-roading paradise exists just outside of Fallon, Nevada, stretching two miles along what locals call the "Loneliest Road in America." Sand Mountain is a giant six-foot-tall dune made entirely of sand that accumulated over several millennia from a nearby, dried-up lake. ATV enthusiasts from all over the country flock to Sand Mountain to rip around the fine sands and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

SandmountainUS Department of the Interior | Flickr

Ruggles Mine, New Hampshire

Exploring the Ruggles Mine sort of feels like exploring the intricate tunnels of an ant hill. The massive open-pit mine is a dream for gem seekers as it is filled with all sorts of valuable minerals, including mica, amethyst, feldspar, rose quartz, and garnet. Unfortunately, the Ruggles Mine is now closed to the public.

RugglesmineWikimedia Commons

Great Falls, New Jersey

Over two billion gallons of water from the Passaic River flow over the Great Falls in Paterson, New Jersey. The historic waterfall is 260-feet wide and 77-feet tall and is a major source of hydroelectricity for the city, generating an impressive 30-million kilowatt-hours annually. 

GreatfallsShutterstock

Bisti Badlands, New Mexico

The high desert of New Mexico is home to an ethereal landscape known as the Bisti Badlands, which contain some of the most astonishing rock formations on the planet. Like something out of Mars, the hoodoo-rich terrain is naturally painted a red-orange color, making it especially beautiful to witness during sunrise.

BistibadlandsShutterstock

Glen Watkins State Park, New York

Glen Watkins State Park in upstate New York is something out of a storybook. The 778-acre park is packed with several points of interest, including lush greens, winding trails, stone staircases, narrow gorges, and majestic waterfalls. An abundance of campsites, swimming spots, and facilities also make this a great place for camping.

1710346806270Wikimedia Commons

Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina

In the summer months, Grandfather Mountain puts on dazzling light shows courtesy of the many species of fireflies that inhabit the area. The fireflies can be observed throughout the park; however, the best sightings are arguably at the mountains peak, where they are coupled by an amazing view of the North Carolina landscape.

GrandfathermountainGrandfather Mountain

Burning Hills, North Dakota

Former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt used to hunt in an territory of North Dakota that would eventually become a national park named after him. One of the park's distinct features is a stretch of coal-rich badlands nicknamed the "Burning Hills," which comes from a phenomenon in which lighting strikes the coal beds and produces a characteristic red color from the resulting oxidation of iron.

BurninghillsOnasill | Flickr

Rock House, Ohio

In Ohio's Hocking Hills State Park, there exists a tunnel-like corridor located midway up a 150-foot cliff that attracks many hiking enthusiasts. Called the "Rock House,"  it is the only true cave in the entire park, and it features seven Gothic-arched windows and breathtaking prismatic sandstone columns that hold up its giant, rocky roof.

RockhouseWikimedia Commons

Turner Falls, Oklahoma

Thousands of people visit Turner Falls every year to take a dip in its cool waters. Tucked away in the heart of the Arbuckle Mountains in Oklahoma, the 77-foot-tall waterfall drops into a natural swimming pool which brings together both locals and out-of-towners for an epic summer swim.

TurnerfallsTodd Carr | Flickr

Oneonta Gorge, Oregon

Despite the many trails in the surrounding area, the Oreonta Gorge near Portland, Oregon cannot be accessed via trail. To get there, you must traverse off-path along a challenging route that involves walking up a creek bed, hurdling over a sometimes unstable log jam, and wading through through waist-deep water.

1710388133870Michael Matti | Flickr

Ricketts Glen, Pennsylvania

Ricketts Glen State Park is a 13,000-acre wooded wonderland just 30 miles north of Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania. Over 20 waterfalls can be seen in this park along a 7-mile loop that presents a fun challenge for even the most seasoned hikers. Make sure to stop by the 94-foot-tall Ganoga falls, which is the tallest waterfall in the entire park.

1710388523012Nicholas_T | Flickr

Mohegan Bluffs, Rhode Island

Rhode Island is beautiful all around, but a short ferry ride to Block Island will land you in one of the most beautiful spots in the state: the Mohegan Bluffs. Towering 185 feet high, the bluffs offer unmatched views of the Atlantic Ocean, and some people have even likened its white sand beaches to California's Malibu beach.

MoheganbluffsJoyosity | Flickr

Angel Oak, South Carolina

There's something magical about this particular Angel Oak tree. Situated in the middle of a woodland just outside Charleston, South Carolina, the 400-year-old tree stands 65 feet tall and branches out in beautiful angular pattern. The Angel Oak was severely damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, but it has since recovered.

AngeloakWikimedia Commons

Black Hills, South Dakota

The Lokota words "Paha Sapa" translates to "hills that are black," which is a fitting for this isolated mountain range. The Black Hills of South Dakota stand out from the surrounding prairie landscape, rising several thousand feet above the ground and tinting the skies black with its pine-covered peaks.

BlackhillsShutterstock

Lost Sea Cave, Tennessee

Named "America's Largest Underground Lake" by the Guinness Book of World Records, The Lost Sea in Sweetwater, Tennessee extends a staggering 140 feet underground. While current measurements have the lake at 800 feet long and 220 feet wide, cave divers are still mapping the lake today and still have not found its true ends.

LostseaKreg Steppe | Flickr

Hamilton Pool Reserve, Texas

One of Texas' most prized gems is Hamilton Pool Reserve, a natural swimming pool with emerald green waters near Austin. the site is part of the Balcones Canyonlands preserve, which is federally protected area containing multiple trails, waterfalls, grottos, and much more. 

1710315813577Brian Moran | Flickr

The Wave, Utah

In Utah, the waves aren't made of water—they're made of rock. One wave in particular is world-famous for its surreal, undulated patterns and striking red-orange color. Simply called "The Wave," it is one of the most highly photographed spots in the U.S. and continues to draw hundreds of visitors annually.

WaverockShutterstock

Rock of Ages Quarry, Vermont

The world's largest deep-hole dimension quarry is located in Graniteville, Vermont, and it's open for tours. Rock of Ages, the company that owns the quarry, allow visitors to take a self-guided tour, which includes a look into the massive granite plant where gravestones are produced.

ElsmithquarryRock of Ages

Natural Bridge, Virginia

Virginia's Natural Bridge is geological formation that reaches 215 feet into the skies and also has a giant natural arch spanning 90 feet. While it is the star of the show in the park, there are also dense green forests, rolling hills, and inspiring views of the James River valley to experience in the area.

NaturalbridgePexels

Hoh Rainforest, Washington

Hoh Rainforest is a moss-covered wonderland located on the Olympic Peninsula in west Washington state. It is one of the largest temperate rainforests in America, filled with old-growth trees and a wide diversity of wildlife. The best time to visit is during the rainy season since that is when the moss is most green and vibrant.

HohrainShutterstock

Dolly Sods, West Virginia

Many places can be beautiful in the autumn, but there's something about fall in the Dolly Sods that's truly special. The view from Spruce Knob, West Virginia's highest peak, offers the most breathtaking views of the colorful foliage from an observational tower that's open to all visitors.

DollysodsForest Wander | Flickr

Apostle Island Sea Caves, Wisconsin

Kayaking enthusiasts will want to put the Apostle Island Sea Caves on their bucket lists. Located in Wisconsin's Bayfield County, it is one of the most incredible places to paddle, with several sandstone cliffs and isolated caverns to explore. In the winter, the caves become lined with ice, transforming it from a summer hotspot to a winter wonderland.

Apostleislandsmjmonty | Flickr

Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming

Of the many sights to see in Yellostone National Park, the Grand Prismatic Spring should be at the top of your list. It is the most photographed thermal feaure in the park, and for good reason—its multicolored layers, derived from various species of thermophile bacteria, make it appear like a rainbow on land.

MidwaygeyserJames St. John | Flickr


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