Here at GiftTree, we’re getting pumped for the 4th of July celebrations like everyone else, but this year’s also got us feeling especially grateful for this beautiful country. From frozen mountaintops, to vast expanses of painted deserts, to towering pines along crystal lakes and sun-drenched beaches of soft sand, the United States has something for everyone. In the spirit of celebrating our upcoming Independence Day, a few of us in the Creative and Marketing Departments got together and compiled a list of our favorite destinations in this breathtaking country. Onward!
California – Old Growth Coast Redwoods
If you ever find yourself planning a drive through Northern California, the coast redwoods are not to be missed. These California trees, some close to 2,000 years old, reach heights upwards of 300 feet, higher than a 30-floor skyscraper, and carry a circumference of over 25 feet. Humboldt Redwoods State Park and Richardson Grove State Park, both in Humboldt County along Highway 101, provide breathtaking, up-close and personal views with these silent giants.
Tennessee – Great Smoky Mountains
Eastern Tennessee is a verdant land of rugged mountains, lush forest, rolling farmland and deep, wild river gorges. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the main attraction, with an incredible array of plant and animal life, peaceful cascading streams, and misty mountain vistas. It’s the most visited national park in the country for good reason. If you ever find yourself in Tennessee, you’ll to be completely enchanted with this harmonious, rustic backcountry, and feel as though you’ve been transported back in time.
Wyoming – Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park is a 3,500-sq.-mile expanse of wilderness set atop a volcanic hot spot. Mostly in Wyoming, the park does spread into parts of Montana and Idaho, too. Yellowstone features sweeping views of dramatic canyons, alpine rivers, lush forests, gushing geysers, and geothermal hot springs including its most famous, the Grand Prismatic Spring. It’s also home to many different animals like bears, wolves, bison, elk and antelope. Hundreds of thousands of people from around the world visit Yellowstone every June, July and August, so if you’re planning a visit there during Summer, make sure you pack your patience!
California – Yosemite National Park
Nestled in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain range is Yosemite, a 1,200 acre National Park, famed for its giant sequoia trees, crystal clear streams, majestic waterfalls and the iconic vista view of Bridalveil waterfall and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome, towering nearly 5,000 feet above the valley floor. The famous naturalist John Muir fell in love with the Yosemite Valley and his voice became the champion for its preservation, leading to the park’s establishment in 1890. Muir wrote, “No temple made with human hands can compare with Yosemite.”
Colorado – Ouray and the San Juan Mountains
Ouray, Colorado, known as the Switzerland of America, is a tiny town located about 70 miles north of Durango. It’s nestled in a valley in the San Juan Mountains, on a stretch of US 550 commonly referred to as the Million Dollar Highway. Founded as a mining town and boasting mineral hot springs, it’s a great destination and base camp. Spend a day hiking and then stop by Ouray Brewery for some refreshment before taking an evening dip in the mineral hot springs!
Florida – Key West and the Florida Keys
The Florida Keys are a string of tropical islands stretching about 120 miles off the state’s southern tip, between the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. They’re known for their laid-back vibe and as a destination for fishing, boating and scuba diving. The islands are all connected by 42 bridges, and its largest city, Key West, is actually nearer to Havana, Cuba than anywhere on the continental United States.
New Mexico – Carlsbad Caverns
Carlsbad Caverns National Park is a series of limestone cave chambers located in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico, beneath the Chihuahuan Desert. Every year, over 300,000 visitors explore the rugged landscape of over 115 known caves, including vast underground chambers. The Caverns are rich with an abundance of natural marvels like speleothem formations, fossils, underground pools, and hundreds of thousands of bats, which emerge in a dazzling nightly ritual.
Oregon – Devil’s Punchbowl State Natural Area
Don’t let the ominous name fool you – this spot is breathtakingly beautiful, and not at all devilish (unless you happen to be down on the rocks in a storm, which we would advise against!). Located on the central Oregon Coast just south of Depoe Bay, lies this unique park featuring a circular rock formation known as Devil’s Punchbowl. The rocky bowl creates an exciting, loud spray and seemingly bubbling cauldron of salty ocean water as it ebbs and flows from the rocks. This rocky cliff, with its scenic hiking trails and a gorgeous ocean view, is also a great place to camp out and enjoy watching nearby surfers, catch a glimpse of whales known to frequent the area, explore tide pools, or just admire the geology and breathe in the salty air.
Have we missed YOUR favorite scenic destination in the United States? Tell us about it in the comments below!