7 Places Everyone Should Visit at Least Once

From Carlsbad Caverns to the Grand Canyon and Death Valley, North America has countless iconic sites within its borders. Gain a greater appreciation for its natural beauty, and architectural wonders by visiting these 7 destinations right here.

Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Grand Canyon National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

There’s a reason why millions of people visit the Grand Canyon every year. The mile-deep gorge in Arizona is one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Visitors can explore this ancient geological marvel through hiking, biking, rafting, helicopter rides, mule tours, and more.

Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Carlsbad Caverns National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Under New Mexico’s Chihuahuan Desert lies Carlsbad Caverns, a cave system filled with chandeliers and temples built of glistening mineral deposits. Choose between self-guided tours and ranger-guided tours of the cave—and if you visit from May to October, be prepared to witness the spectacular flight of bats at twilight.

Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Mesa Verde National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

American history stretches back far beyond 1776. At Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado, you can learn more about the ancient cultures who once called this land home. Some of the best-preserved archaeological sites in the Americas, including cave dwellings of the Ancestral Pueblo people, sit within the 52,485-acre park.

Santa Fe Art Colony in New Mexico

Santa Fe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Santa Fe © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Under the turquoise skies of Santa Fe, New Mexico, you’ll find 250 galleries and hundreds of artists. This UNESCO-designated “Creative City,” which has a 400-year history, is home to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, loads of Spanish architecture, and the 2018 International Folk Art Market (July 13-15).

Death Valley National Park, California

Dante’s View, Death Valley National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights

Dante’s View, Death Valley National Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The hottest, driest, and lowest national park in the country, Death Valley may at first glance appear to live up to its name—but there are plenty of amazing sites that attract wildlife, and humans, to this part of California’s Mojave Desert.

Visit at the right time and you’ll be treated to the site of beautiful rust-colored mountains surrounded by multi-hued wildflower displays. If conditions align, the desert becomes a mass of yellow, purple, pink and white flowers in spring. While flower hunting you may also come across critters like bighorn sheep, desert tortoises, and jackrabbits.

Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Banff National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Canada’s oldest national park is vast enough for the Rocky Mountains to call it home, which immediately gives it serious credentials in the natural wonder stakes. Stretching across awesome sky-scraping mountains and glaciers dissected by raging rivers through vast green valleys, it’s a natural wonderland that offers up some of the best skiing, rafting, hiking, and climbing in the world. It should be top of your bucket list.

Among the myriad wonders are a few standouts. If you’re visiting, make sure to take a trip to Lake Louise for its glowing azure and emerald waters and, if the wind plays ball, mirror-like reflections of the surround mountains. Then there’s the flower carpets of Sunshine Meadow that contrast so beautiful with the jagged peaks of the Icefields Parkway.

Joshua Tree National Park, California

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua Tree National Park © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Joshua Tree National Park is an amazingly diverse area of sand dunes, dry lakes, flat valleys, extraordinarily rugged mountains, granitic monoliths, and oases.

Explore the desert scenery, granite monoliths (popular with rock climbers), petroglyphs from early Native Americans, old mines, and ranches.

The park provides an introduction to the variety and complexity of the desert environment and a vivid contrast between the higher Mojave and lower Sonoran deserts that range in elevation from 900 feet to 5,185 feet at Keys View. This outstanding scenic point overlooks a breathtaking expanse of valley, mountain, and desert.

Worth Pondering…

Take time to listen to the voices of the earth and what they mean…the majestic voice of thunder, the winds, the sound of flowing streams. And the voices of living things: the dawn chorus of the birds, the insects that play little fiddles in the grass.

—Rachel Carson

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