From the sun-kissed sands of Florida to dramatic canyons and mountainous national parks, the USA’s out-of-this-world landscapes provide the ultimate adventure-lover’s playground.
From glaciers and alpine meadows to cavernous canyons, dormant volcanoes and expansive national parks, the country’s diverse and sublime outdoor attractions draw travellers from across the globe. Stretching from sunny Florida all the way up to the Canadian border – as well as a quick hop over to Hawaii – there’s something for every type of nature lover. Whether it’s hiking mountains, abseiling down canyon walls or enjoying a splash of luxury while glamping under the stars, discover some of the best ways to enjoy the USA’s great outdoors.
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Hike John Muir Trail in Yosemite, California
Stretching over 339km, the John Muir Trail is one of the country’s most iconic hikes, taking anywhere between two and four weeks. Descend through canyons, edge around granite cliffs, look over lakes and wander by waterfalls as you traverse through beautiful national parks and wilderness areas, including Yosemite and Sequoia National Park. Finish at Mount Whitney, California’s highest peak, for a truly breathtaking experience.
The alpine nature of the hike means there’s potential for snow in the winter. To give yourself the best chance of mild and sunny weather, it’s best to plan for a visit between July and October.
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Go stargazing at Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve
As the country’s first International Dark Sky Reserve, there’s something extra sparkly about the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. Spanning over 3,000sq kms, the protected area benefits from a lack of light pollution, making it the perfect place to admire the wonders of the night sky. On a clear night, look up to find key constellations such as Orion, the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) and Cassiopeia, as well as planets Venus, Jupiter, Mercury, Mars and Saturn.
It’s not just stars and planets – the International Space Station and other satellites often make an appearance.
Glamping on Governors Island, New York
New York might not be the first place that comes to mind when it comes to the Great Outdoors, but with 173 acres of peaceful, sprawling green space just an eight-minute ferry from downtown Manhattan, the Big Apple has something for your inner nature lover. Nestled on Governors Island, Collective Retreats’ glamping experience will soon have you forgetting about your to-do list, with countless new experiences to add to your bow. Embrace the day with morning yoga and explore the retreat on two wheels, before watching the sunset over the Manhattan skyline with a cocktail in hand. Chef-driven farm-to-table dining is the delicious cherry on top.
The city that never sleeps: View the best luxury hotels in New York City
Chase canyoneering thrills in Moab, Utah
Hike, abseil and scramble along carved sandstone walls to ancient ruins and water-filled pools in Moab, one of the country’s most sought-after canyoneering destinations. Take a step into the vertical world as you descend chambers, around natural bridges and cross streams to find dinosaur tracks, petroglyphs and lush grottos. Your hard work will also be rewarded with awe-inspiring views of surrounding landscapes, such as the Longbow Arch, Moab’s famous sandstone arches and the La Sal Mountains.
Paragliding over paradise, Hawaii
Admire Maui from a sky-high angle with a paragliding adventure over Haleakalā, the world’s largest dormant volcano. Launch from the volcano’s slopes at over 1980 metres elevation to soak up spectacular bi-coastal views or even other Hawaiian islands, before smoothly gliding back to the landing zone. With 10-12-minutes of airtime, there’s plenty of time to snap the views... and turn the camera on yourself.
Heights range from beginner to expert, meaning keen gliders of every level can take part.
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Stretch out on Siesta Beach, Florida
Ranked the second-best beach in the USA by Tripadvisor’s Traveller’s Choice Awards, Siesta Beach’s quartz-white sands and soft waves make it the perfect coastal getaway for nature lovers. Splash about in the turquoise waters, dry off on the powdery sand and grab a snack from the multiple concession stands, before venturing out to explore the charming Siesta Key town. With countless restaurants, bars and cafes, as well as shopping boutiques and parks, there’s something for every taste.
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Go white-water rafting in Glacier National Park, Montana
Melting glaciers, rushing rivers, carved valleys and sensational lakes are just some of the natural spectacles on offer for keen adventurers at Glacier National Park in Montana. Get up close and personal with the majesty of Mother Nature with a half-day white-water rafting trip on the middle fork section of the Flathead River, manoeuvring through nine different rapids over eight miles. With rapids rated class 2 and 3, it’s a splashy adventure that the whole family can enjoy. Just keep an eye out for grizzly bears on the banks – the park is home to one of North America’s last remaining grizzly bear populations.
Looking for more USA inspiration? Check out Some of the USA’s Best Ski Resorts & Mountains