23 most beautiful natural US landmarks & how to photograph them (with map)

Mount Rainier- beautiful natural landmark in America

Planning a travel photography trip around the USA? Want to know some of the best natural landspaces to visit in America and how to get the best photographs of them? In this post, we share some of the most beautiful natural wonders of America, with tips on how to achieve your own Instagram worthy photos of these stunning natural US landmarks.

We work hard to make this the best travel photography and experience website possible. Shoot Experience is supported by our readers and if you make a purchase through a link on this site, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. We are proud of our editorial integrity and only recommend cameras, gear and accessories we find truly useful. We hope you find the information in this post helpful.


Jump Ahead to...

Where is the most beautiful natural US landmarks?

Many people feel overwhelmed when visiting or touring the USA. Even if you’re just visiting a new state, it’s often hard to find the most beautiful locations to visit, and certainly tough to discover when to go to get the best photograph.

Many people ask which state has the most beautiful landscapes, or where are the prettiest places to visit in North America? We’ve already created a guide to the 17 best man-made monuments to see in America (and how to photograph them) but what about the ones nature gave us?

That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you caption the very best photos of America’s most famous natural wonders, which includes a map of the exact locations to get ‘the shot’ and some tips on how to capture it in the best light.

Of course, there are plenty of incredible natural places in America we weren’t able to put into this guide, but I’d love to hear your suggestions- feel free to drop them into the comments below.


Map of the best Natural Wonders and landscapes in America

Here’s an interactive map of all the natural landmarks of America mentioned in this guide, so you can use it to help plan your American photography trip.


Yosemite Valley (with Half Dome and El Capitan)

Yosemite Valley- America's most beautiful natural landmarks & how to photograph them (with map)
Yosemite Valley- America’s most beautiful natural landmarks

Photographed by Jami from Celiac Travel Pack

Yosemite is one of the most famous and iconic national parks in the United States. The towering cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome are a big reason why. When you’re looking out over the valley at the two monoliths you have the opportunity to see why this place was sacred to the Ahwahnee people. It is truly breathtaking and definitely one of the most beautiful natural places in North America.

You can find the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center at 9035 Village Dr.

Photographing Americas natural wonders: How to get this photo

To photograph the sprawling valley with El Capitan in the foreground and Half Dome in the back you don’t even have to hike. Just head out Wawona Road to the Tunnel View pullout (see map). This pullout is directly before the Wawona Tunnel and can be very busy.

When to photograph this famous natural wonders of North America

The view is best at sunrise and during the morning golden hour. You can also get some moody red skies at sunset. If you want the sunrise photo plan to camp in the park or stay at the lodge. Reservations for lodging will book out months in advance so plan ahead. If you’re not staying in the park, start early and budget extra time to get through the entrance station since there will likely be traffic.

When to visit

Wawona Road is open all year and El Capitan and Half Dome are photogenic in any season.  For a snowy photo, you’ll need to go in winter. Rain is least likely to impede your photo in the Summer but the crows are a factor. Fall provides warmer weather without the crowds of the peak summer season but you could get caught in an early snowstorm. 

Costs

A week-long pass to Yosemite is $35. A yearly pass for the entire US National Park System is $80. Entering Yosemite Valley between 6:00 am- 4:00 pm between May 20- September 30, 2022, requires a reservation. The reservations will go quickly. If you don’t have one, or don’t want to mess with it, consider visiting in October.

Other spots for awesome photos:

At sunset, there is a chance one of the monoliths will be glowing red. If you’re near the parking for Curry Village at sunset look up at Half Dome and you may get a shot. The red comes and goes quickly, sometimes only for a few minutes, so be prepared. 

Stop along El Portal Road in the valley to photograph the size of El Capitan. The views are impressive on all sides of El Capitan so don’t be afraid to stop several times or even walk out into the meadows in the valley. Keep your eyes peeled for rock climbers in the summer.

Photograph Half Dome from Glacier Point Vista – the road the viewpoint is closed in winter.


Half Dome, Yosemite- famous American natural wonder

Half Dome- one of the best natural wonders in North America
Half Dome- one of the best natural wonders in North America

Photographed by Nina from Where in the World is Nina

The Half Dome is definitely one of the USA’s most famous natural wonders and it’s on every photographer’s list for their Yosemite road trip!

The granite dome is sliced off on one side creating an interesting feature in the Yosemite Valley. You can see it from tons of different angles, some requiring a hike and some a simple stroll from a parking lot!

Beautiful places in America: How to get photographs of Half Dome:

1. The easy way is just a short stroll away from the parking lot. Parking might be the biggest hurdle, so get here early! From Glacier Point parking area, walk up the pathed walkway, and you’ll be immediately greeted with grand views of Half Dome. Be sure to wander out a bit for a unique shot as there’s a platform that’s often crowded with people. You need to walk slightly beyond that (carefully!) to get closer and cut all the people out of your shot.

2. Another great way to see Half Dome is to do the Sentinel Dome hike. You’ll get some more great shots with fewer people since people usually want the easy way. Hike up to Sentinel Dome, and you’ll have some perfect vistas of Half Dome without much more effort. The hike is only 2 miles round trip and offers up views of the valley too!

How to get to this natural wonder

Both of these photo locations require you to drive down Glacier Point Road; this is about an hour from Yosemite Valley. You would be better off keeping your entire day on this road as trying to squeeze it all in would be a bit much. There is plenty to see on this side of the park, so there’s no rush to leave.

Yosemite’s roads are notoriously narrow and there is poor parking. Getting here early guarantees better pictures, but it will also help you get more time outside of your car. Coming a bit later will surely mean you’ll be driving in circles around the parking areas waiting for the early risers to leave so you can steal a parking spot.

It is also important to note that Glacier Road is not great for large vehicles or RVs.

Be sure to grab your America the Beautiful National Park pass or purchase a pass at the entrance gate to get in the park.


Giant Sequoias- one of America’s famous natural landmarks

Sequioa Trees- one of America's most famous natural landmarks
Sequioa Trees- one of America’s most famous natural landmarks

Photographed by Mikaela from Voyageur Tripper

Giant sequoia trees are one of the USA’s most iconic national landmarks. These unbelievable trees are native to a small section of the Sierra mountains in California. Decades of logging mean there are relatively few Sequoia groves remaining.

By volume, Sequoia trees are the largest trees in the world. While their height falls a little short of the Redwood (also native to California), the Sequoia’s width and size of branches give them incredible volume. They live for thousands of years, standing strong as the seasons come and go, as the years pass on and on.

America’s iconic natural landmarks: Where to find the Sequoia Trees

One of the best places is in the Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park. Here, there are dozens of trees to hike around and photograph, including the most famous Sequoia: the Grizzly Giant.

In the off-season, drive to Mariposa Grove Welcome Plaza. Here you can read about the history and ecology of the trees before starting your 4-mile hike to the trees. In the summer, you can drive further into the grove to a parking lot only a few hundred feet from the trees. There is no fee to park, however, you will have to pay the Yosemite National Park entry fee unless you have a National Parks Pass.

From the park, the full trail is about 6 miles and visits all of the Sequoias in the grove. However, there are several places to adjust the route to decrease the hiking distance.

Beautiful places in North America: How to photograph the Sequoias

As the oldest tree, the Grizzly Giant is obviously a popular choice. It’s difficult to capture its size in a single photograph. A great alternative is to photograph a person standing among the trunks of The Bachelor and Three Graces, four Sequoias standing side by side. 

Here you can capture the size of the trunks. If you would like to capture the top of the trees, bring a wide-angle lens as it will help you capture as much of the trunk as possible.

When to visit

The most popular time to visit is in the summer months, however, the winter months bring glistening white snow and can make for more beautiful photos (if you don’t mind hiking in the snow). 


Badwater Basin – an American Natural wonder

Badwater Basin- an incredible natural wonder in the USA
Badwater Basin- an incredible natural wonder in the USA

Photographed by Sam from Find Love & Travel

One of the most popular Landmarks and a must-see with one day in Death Valley National Park is the Badwater Basin Salt Flats! 

Located in California near the Nevada border, the Badwater Basin Salt Flats are actually the lowest point in North America. Because the salt flats are so unique with their cool hexagon shapes surrounded by mountains, it makes a great place for photos! 

How to get here

The best and just about only way to visit the salt flats in Death Valley National Park is by car. The Salt Flats are located on Badwater Road (see map)

As you arrive at the parking lot, you will see the salt flats right in front of you, but not the hexagon shapes in the salt bed. To see the actual hexagon shapes, you will need to walk about 25-30 minutes straight from the start of the boardwalk. 

The entrance fee to Death Valley National Park is $30 USD per car.

When to visit

The best time to visit Death Valley is during the winter when the temperatures are more bearable. 

How to photograph this natural US landmark?

Badwater Basin Salt Flats offer several good times to photograph them. Sunrise is great for lovely colors across the flats, although they will appear less white. 

Early morning after the sunrise is also great for photos because the temperatures will still be cool (so you can stay on the salt flats longer) and see more of the white ground since the sun will be reflecting it. 

You can also take great photos about 1 hour before sunset. This will give you enough time to walk out to the best area of the salt flats before the sun falls behind the mountains (around 5:30 during the winter). Keep in mind if it has rained recently, the flats will be more brown rather than white. 


Havasu Falls- natural USA landmark

Havasu Falls- one of the most beautiful natural places in America
Havasu Falls- one of the most beautiful natural places in America

Photographed by Agnes from The Van Escape

Havasu Falls is the most famous of the five aqua-blue Havasu Creek Waterfalls that pour over deep orange travertine rocks in a desert oasis. It’s a natural wonder hidden at the foot of Arizona’s Grand Canyon. 

The five stunning blue-turquoise waterfalls are Navajo Falls, Fifty Foot Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, and Beaver Falls. 

They are all located on the Havasupai Indian Reservation. It is part of tribal land, and to get there, you must follow their rules. The trailhead is in Hualapai Hiltop, about 66 miles from Peach Springs, Arizona.

Visiting guidelines for this beautiful place in America

First of all, you have to buy a permit from the Havasupai Tribe to hike to Havasu Falls. It is quite a challenge because places are limited.

All visits require at least a reservation for one night, depending on whether you stay at the campsite or at Havasupai Lodge in Supai Village. 

If you choose to stay at the camp, you will have to pay for three nights, even if you only want to stay one night. Three nights at the Havasu campground costs about $375 per person. It’s a rustic place with no running water, showers, electricity, or internet access.

Be prepared

The season runs from February through November. The hike is challenging, 10 miles one way through strenuous desert terrain. The best months are spring and fall due to the weather. There is no access to water for 8 miles of the hike, so you’ll need to pack plenty of water, wear sturdy shoes, and bring all your camping gear.

Photographing America’s Natural wonders: Where to get the best photo

The best time of day to photograph the famous Havasu Falls is in the morning hours, before noon. The photo spots are uphill and downhill. One of the best spots is at the base of the falls. From a campsite, an easy hiking trail leads to the bottom. 

To take the best photos, you should go into the water, so bring water shoes because there are many slippery rocks. The tripod is also mandatory if you want to achieve blur. The current is quite strong, so weigh it down to avoid tipping over.


Double O Arch- famous natural landmark of America

Double O Arch- one of the most famous natural landmarks of America
Double O Arch- one of the most famous natural landmarks of America

Photographed by James from Parks Collecting

One of the most incredible natural landmarks in the USA is Double O Arch in Arches National Park. The park is home to more than 2,000 natural arches, but Double O Arch stands out from the crowd.  

The park is five miles from Moab in Utah. 

The arch is at the far end of Devil’s Garden, reached along a strenuous 4.1-mile round trip hike. It’s not easy to get to – the trail goes over the top of a narrow fin and at times is only indicated by cairns (piles of small rocks that show the way) – but it is truly worth the effort. 

Where to get the best shot of this natural wonder

As you approach the arch, only the larger upper arch is initially visible. Then the small lower arch comes into sight. For the best view, though, climb up to the bottom of the lower arch (it’s a bit of a scramble, but definitely doable) and go through the arch.

On the other side, walk up the slope behind the arch and when you get near the top, stop, turn around, and look back. In front of you is the breathtaking classic view of the double arch with the fins and beautiful desert landscape of the national park beyond. 

When to visit

The best time to visit Arches National Park is spring or fall; it gets very hot in summer. Photos are best in the afternoon. 

There is a $30 per vehicle fee to enter the national park. From April to October, you need to reserve a timed entry slot to entry the national park.  

After you’ve had your fill of the stunning view, you can return along the same path or take a primitive trail that goes through Fin Canyon, forming a loop back to the start of the trail.  


Delicate Arch- famous American natural wonder

Delicate Arch- famous natural wonder of the USA
Delicate Arch- famous natural wonder of the USA

Photographed by Jamie from Photo Jeepers

No visit to Arches National Park would be complete without stopping at one of the best natural landmarks in the USA – Delicate Arch. 

It stands at an amazing 52-feet tall and sits at the end of an easy to moderately difficult out and back trail that is 3.2 miles long. 

With around 629 feet of elevation gain, the hike should take you between an hour and an hour and a half to complete. 

How to get to Delicate Arch

However, to access the trailhead, you’ll need to embark on a 35-minute drive from Moab that will take you along US-191 N and then Arches National Park.

Once in the park, you’ll have to pay either $30.00 per day for a private vehicle or $15.00 per individuals if you want to enter the park

Best time to shoot this natural landmark

If you can, bring a headlamp and get here before sunrise for the best photo ops and to avoid the crowds that regularly inundate the area. 

Winter will also be a better time to visit just because you’ll have to deal with fewer crowds in the park. It’ll be cold though so definitely bundle up, 

Typically, you can make the most of Arches National Park at sunrise by arriving at least 30-minutes before sunrise. 

This way you have time to set up, scope out different vantage points, and take advantage of the lovely, blue hour light. 

Different angles for unique photos of this natural wonder

And while shots of the Arch straight on are lovely, you can try photographing it through Frame Arch for a unique perspective. 

You can also stand to the west of the bowl for a cool landscape shot or walk to the east for another cool view too. “


Monument Valley – one of the most beautiful places in America

Monument Valley- one of America's most famous natural wonders and most beautiful places to visit
Monument Valley- one of America’s most famous natural wonders and most beautiful places to visit

Photographed by Agnes from The Van Escape

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park in Arizona is one of the most photographed natural places in the world. The valley is home to towering orange sandstone rocks sculpted over time that rise 400 to 1,000 feet above the valley floor.

America’s Natural Wonders- Famous Landscape

Monument Valley is also one of the most famous landscapes in the United States, initiated by John Ford, who eagerly filmed his westerns here, fascinated by the place. The movie Stagecoach was filmed here, which launched the incredible career of John Wayne. Other famous films shot in Monument Valley are The Searchers, Fort Apache, Rio Grande, Easy Rider, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Forrest Gump.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located in the northeastern part of Arizona, on the Utah border. From Page, Arizona, it is 121 miles. From Moab, Utah, it is 148 miles.

Because the park is on Navajo tribal land, visitors must pay an entrance fee. The park entrance fee is $20 per vehicle for up to 4 people ($6 for each additional person). You may purchase the entrance fee upon arrival.

The best photo spot for this beautiful natural wonder

Upon arrival, you will have the opportunity to take a 17-mile loop drive through the park. There are several stops along the road where you can take photos. However, one of the best photo spots is right next to the visitor center. 

You can not visit Monument Valley without taking pictures of the buttes. The buttes are unique and iconic with their spindly “thumbs.” The best place to take this classic photo is undoubtedly the visitor center. The elevated position of the building’s large terrace puts you at a remarkable height. 

So you can shoot West Mitten Butte, East Mitten Butte, and Merrick Butte almost from the air (almost, because drones are banned in the park). 

Best time of day to take photographs

The best time of day to photograph is in the afternoon and before sunset when the light rays warm the orange rock. Sunrises are also a magnificent sight from anywhere in the park and the ideal time to take photos, as there are fewer tourists at this time. 

The best season for visiting is late spring and fall.


Antelope Canyon

Antelope Canyon USA beautiful natural place to visit
Antelope Canyon USA beautiful natural place to visit

Photographed by Brodi from Our Offbeat Life

Antelope Canyon is the most photographed slot canyon in Arizona and definitely one of the most beautiful places in America. The wind-carved sandstone walls create incredible shapes. 

The canyon is divided into three sections: Upper Antelope Canyon, Lower Antelope Canyon, and Antelope Canyon X. 

Capturing America’s Natural landscapes: How to get the best shots of this natural wonder

There are awe-inspiring light beams to photograph in the summer as well as fascinating color changes to capture in the winter. The light beams can only be seen in Upper Antelope Canyon, while the color-changing rocks are best seen in Lower Antelope Canyon. 

In the summer, the rocks only look orange or red. In the winter, they also appear blue and purple. Depending on what you want to see, there isn’t a bad time of year to visit. 

When photographing Antelope Canyon in the winter, Lower Antelope Canyon gives better views of the blue and purple shades in the rocks. This photo was taken halfway through the Lower Antelope Canyon tour.

Visiting the canyon

The canyon is located just outside Page, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. It can only be visited with an approved, Navajo-owned tour company. There are only a handful of companies that offer tours. 

Depending on which company and which part of the canyon you choose to tour, the costs range from $50/person to $100/person. During high season, in the summer months, it is essential to schedule a tour in advance to ensure availability. 

All the tour companies are basically located in the same area, which is where all the tours start. You can easily see them from the road and there are signs clearly marking where to go. Your parking lot will depend on which company you book to take your tour. 


Horseshoe Bend- an iconic American landscape

Horseshoe Bend- incredible natural landmark in the USA and one of the most beautiful places to visit in America nature
Horseshoe Bend- incredible natural landmark in the USA and one of the most beautiful places to visit in America

Photographed by Krisztina from She Wanders Abroad

If you find yourself in the American Southwest, make sure to add Horseshoe Bend to your list of must-see natural landmarks of America. This incredible natural wonder is located just outside of Page, Arizona, and it’s definitely worth a visit.

Horseshoe Bend gets its name from its distinct shape – the bend in the Colorado River forms a perfect horseshoe shape. And the views from the top are incredible. You can see for miles in every direction, it’s truly a breathtaking sight.

Hot to get to Horseshoe Bend

Getting there is super easy – you can just park at the designated parking lot (parking costs $10 per vehicle) and then follow the short trail to Horseshoe Bend. The hike is very easy, it’s only about a 1-mile round trip, so you can get to the landmark in 10-15 minutes.

When to visit this natural wonder

Visiting Horseshoe Bend is a good idea year-round, however, if you want to avoid the biggest heat, try to stay away from the summer months. If you want to have the landmark all to yourself, it’s best to visit early in the morning before the tourist crowds arrive. 

Best time to shoot

However, when it comes to photography, sunset is undoubtedly the best time but be prepared to battle the crowds.

There is no entrance fee other than the parking cost so it’s great news for budget travelers. Once you get to the viewpoint, you can basically take photos from every angle, you simply can’t go wrong anywhere. 

One important tip: make sure to bring your wide angle lens with you if you want to capture the whole of the bend!


Bryce Canyon National Park- natural US landmark

Bryce Canyon- incredible natural landmark in the USA and one of the most beautiful places to visit in America nature
Bryce Canyon- incredible natural wonder of the USA

Photographed by Chris from Explore Now or Never

Visiting Bryce Canyon National Park is a one-of-a-kind experience due to the unique geology found here. 

Deep orange “hoodoos”—spire shaped rock formations fill the beautiful Bryce Amphitheater, a huge canyon, here for as far as the eye can see. It’s one of the most beautiful national parks in Utah.

You’ll find Bryce Canyon National Park on Highway 63 in  Bryce, Utah. The park is compact—with one main 18 mile road that runs through the park—and is easily seen in just a few days. There’s a vehicle fee of $30 plus a per person fee of $20 to enter the park.

Most visitors spend one day driving the park to view the hoodoos from above with stops along Bryce Canyon Scenic Drive and at least one additional day hiking inside the Bryce Amphitheater for an up close and personal experience of the hoodoos.

Photographing America’s most beautiful places: How to get this shot

One of the most popular hikes is the Queen’s Garden/Navajo combination loop, a moderate 2.9 mile hike that both descends and ascends the striking canyon here. This photo was taken on Queens Garden Trail after descending from Sunrise Point.  

Best time to visit this natural wonder

Be aware that temperatures can be warm at the bottom of the canyon so bring plenty of water and sunscreen. In fact, the best time to visit Bryce Canyon National Park is in spring or fall for fewer crowds and a more temperate climate. 

Whatever time of year you visit, you’ll not soon forget the otherworldly landscape here and vivid colors.


Angel’s Landing

Angels Landing- Incredible USA natural landmark
Angels Landing- Incredible USA natural landmark

Photographed by Jenna from Up and Away Magazine

Angels Landing is a 1,488-foot tall rock formation in Zion National Park, near Springdale Utah. The name comes from Methodist minister Frederick Vining Fisher who allegedly quipped that only an angel could land there- it’s definitely a natural wonder!

How to reach this iconic natural landmarl

Reaching this iconic rock formation requires a strenuous 5-mile hike and is best suited to experienced hikers without a fear of heights. 

Given the steep switchbacks and chained sections with drop offs on each side, it is essential to wear appropriate footwear. Remember to take a jacket and bring a small backpack for your camera and other valuables, so your hands are free to grip the chains. 

To avoid extreme weather and crowds, it’s best to start early and plan on spending at least 3 to 5 hours on the hike. 

How to Get There / Costs 

1 Zion Park Blvd. State Route 9 Springdale, UT 84767

From April 1st 2022, Angels Landing will require a permit, which can be obtained via an online seasonal or day-before lottery administered by the National Park Service. Permit applications are $6 and cover up to six people.

If you’re lucky enough to score a permit, entrance into Zion National Park is $35 per vehicle or $20 per person. During peak season, private vehicles are not permitted inside the most popular section of the park unless you’re staying at the lodge. Most visitors therefore book Zion lodging in nearby Springdale and ride the free wheelchair accessible shuttle into the park.

The Springdale Shuttle stops at numerous locations in Springdale including Zion Canyon Visitor Center. From the visitor center, hikers can take the Zion Canyon Shuttle into the park and hop off at Angels Landing. The first Zion Canyon Shuttle leaves the visitor center at 7am.

Best Time to Visit this natural wonder

Although the trail is open year-round, the best time to visit is March through October since weather conditions in winter can make the trail slippery.

Photographing America’s most beautiful places: Tips for Angels Landing 

For the best photographs, aim to reach the top of Angels Landing early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid harsh midday light. Alternatively, if you reach the landing at midday, plan on using clouds as a background for interesting effect.  From Angels Landing, there are beautiful views across Zion Canyon. Shots looking back at the ridge are equally impressive.


Grand Canyon, South Rim- America’s iconic natural landmark

Photographing the Grand Canyon south rim- one of America's most famous natural landmarks and most beautiful place to visit
Devils Tower & Grand Canyon south rim- one of America’s most beautiful places to visit

Photographed by Sophie and Adam from We Dream of Travel

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, the Grand Canyon needs little introduction.  This geological marvel is the largest canyon on the planet.  Located in Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon National Park is on nearly every bucket list and has been known to bring tears to the eyes of first-time visitors.

It is impossible to not be amazed by the scale of the massive canyon from the rim, but capturing its glory in a frame can be more challenging.  How do you fit such a grandiose chasm in a photograph?

How best to photograph Grand Canyon

Like most things photography related, it is all about light and composition; in other words, being at the right places at the right time of day!  Most visitors prefer the South Rim section of the park as it is easier to get to, offers more facilities, and is open year round.  It is also the best region of the park for photographing sunset!

You will be able to drive to a myriad of viewpoints that look out over the canyon with no hiking required whatsoever.  

How to get this photo

Among them, the best place to be for Grand Canyon photography at sunset is the Desert View Watchtower. From here, photographers have the most expansive views with interesting layers to feature in the golden angular light, as well as the watchtower itself to provide a subject in the foreground.  

It is located at the eastern edge of the Desert View Drive, just beyond the East Entrance into the park.

The entry fee for the Grand Canyon is $35 per vehicle, or is included within an annual America the Beautiful National Park pass.  No advance reservations are required.

Useful Addresses for this famous natural wonder

Grand Canyon South Rim Visitor Center, S Entrance Rd, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023

Desert View Watchtower, Grand Canyon Village, AZ 86023


Grand Canyon, North Rim Photo spots

Cape Royal- one of the most beautiful natural destinations in the USA
Cape Royal- one of the most beautiful natural destinations in the USA

Photographed by Meg from Fox in the Forest

The Grand Canyon is easily one of the most incredible natural landmarks to visit in the USA. 

In fact, it’s over 277 miles long, 18 miles wide, and one mile deep, with the mighty Colorado River carving its way through the area’s stunning red rock canyons. 

One of the best viewpoints of this natural wonder

However, because this park is so large, it can be difficult to find some of the best Grand Canyon viewpoints to take photos from.  

One such viewpoint is Cape Royal. It sits on the southernmost edge of the North Rim and can be accessed after doing an easy, 1-mile, out and back hike along the Cape Royal Trail. 

How to get to the trailhead

You’ll have to drive a little over four hours from Flagstaff. Just take 89 North to 89 A North and then get onto Arizona 67 South. 

From here, you can access Cape Royal Road and take it all the way to the trailhead. 

Upon entering the park though, you’ll have to  pay either $35 for a vehicle permit or $20 for an individual permit. 

Access hours

And while the south rim is open 24 hours a day year round, the north rim is only open seasonally from May 15 through October 15th. 

Once on the trail though, you’ll find plenty of markers along the way that detail the unique natural history of this iconic place. 

Then, at the end of the trail, step out onto the Angles Window natural arch/land bridge built into the canyon and take stunning photos of Cape Royal. 

Best time to visit this natural wonder

If you can, try to visit in the autumn when the leaves become tinged in gold and early in the morning to avoid the crowds and when the light is at its best. And if you can manage it, it’s also a great place from which to watch the sunrise.


Garden of the Gods- incredible natural wonder in North America

Garden of the Gods- incredible natural wonder in North America
Garden of the Gods- incredible natural wonder in North America

Visited by Daria from the Discovery Nut

Located about 1 hour and 20 minutes south of Colorado Capital, Garden of the Gods is one of the best road trips in Denver, that doesn’t require a lot of time on the road and makes for a perfect weekend getaway. 

This natural landmark is located at 1805 N. 30th Street in Colorado Springs, CO, 80904

You can get to Colorado Springs from Denver vía I-70 by going south and taking an exit off the Highway toward the entrance of the area.

When to visit this beautiful natural landmark

You can visit Garden of the Gods at any time, because many of its trails are paved and relatively flat which means you Can hike them at any time. 

And the scenery of this place is second to none – Garden of the Gods is called one of the most beautiful places in Colorado and many visitors from across the country come here to see its amazing red rock formations. 

The entrance to the Garden of the Gods is free, however, be sure to arrive early, as this place is very popular. 

Photographing America’s natural wonders: Tips for Garden of the Gods

You can take spectacular photos of the bright orange outcrops within the park at any spot inside the park. 

It’s also great to combine with many other stops in Colorado Springs, such as the iconic Pikes Peak, one of the most famous “fourteeners” in Colorado that has a paved road leading to the top. 

Another idea is to stop at one of the area’s hot springs to regenerate and soak in some minerals after spending your day outside. 


Mount Rainier- beautiful natural US landmark

Mount Rainier- beautiful natural landmark in America
Mount Rainier- beautiful natural landmark in America

Visited by Nina from Washington is for Adventure

Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington and in the Cascade Mountain Range. It’s also one of the country’s most epic peaks, one of the most photographed natural landmarks in America, and certainly one of the most impressive!

It’s no surprise millions of people come to Washington to catch a glimpse of this mammoth mountain. Mount Rainier is located in Mount Rainier National Park, just two and half hours southeast of Seattle.

And while many may want to scale and summit this peak, it’s no easy feat. Luckily, there are plenty of hikes in Mount Rainier National Park that give you extraordinary views that don’t require you to be a mountaineer. 

The best hikes to get the best vistas and photographs

  • Burroughs Mountain Loop – A 10-mile, rated difficult hike with three Burroughs all providing epic views of Mount Rainier. Make it to the last Burrough to get really close the glaciers!
  • Mount Freemont Lookout – A 5.7-mile moderate hike with more great views of Mount Rainier and a fire lookout tower to boot!
  • Skyline Loop Trail – A challenging but worth it 6-mile loop that takes in Mount Rainier from the southern end and is probably one of the most popular hikes in the park!
  • Reflections lake (which is where the photo above was taken). Go on a still day and get incredible views across the water.

Luckily if you want to take in Mount Rainier minus the hiking shoes, you can visit tons of other areas around the park like the Jackson Visitor Center in Paradise or the Sunrise Visitor Center. 

Best time of day to shoot this natural landmark

Like most famous attractions, especially when wanting to get the best shots, getting there earlier in the day is best. The Burroughs and Freemont hike will be best in the morning as your shots will be blown out come the afternoon. The sun will cast a nasty glare from the mountain’s glaciers.

Timing your Visit

Many roads in Mount Rainier will also be closed in winter, so time your visit accordingly. July and August are great times to visit for some great shots of the stunning wildflowers that sprawl out across the park!

Don’t forget to grab your America the Beautiful National Park pass or purchase a week pass at the entrance gate. 


Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls- one of the most beautiful natural places to visit in North America
Multnomah Falls- one of the most beautiful natural places to visit in North America

Photographed by Kassidy from The Hiking Helper

Multnomah Falls is one of the most beautiful natural places in the Pacific Northwest. At 611-feet tall, it’s the tallest waterfall in Oregon and is found in the Columbia River Gorge, one of the Seven Wonders of Oregon.

It’s one of the most visited and photographed natural sites in the state. The waterfall is just about 45 minutes from Portland, making it easy to access from the city.

Where to get the best photo of this natural wonder

When driving to the parking lot, you’re able to see Multnomah Falls from the highway but to take the best photos, you should walk up to it.

To get to the best viewpoint of the falls, simply park in the lot across the street, and walk about ¼ mile.  The walk to the falls is very short and very easy. It’s also wheelchair accessible.

You’ll then reach the falls viewing point. This is the most popular and the best place to photograph the beautiful waterfall. You’re able to walk up to the gate and take a fantastic straight-on shot of Multnomah Falls, with no people in the photo.

Best time to visit this natural landmark

The best time of year to visit Multnomah Falls is in spring when the water’s flow is at its peak.

To avoid the most crowds, plan your visit on a weekday or early in the morning. This is a popular destination and there will be many people. Visiting at these times also will help you capture the best photo, as you’ll be able to avoid people walking across the famous footbridge, Benson Bridge.

It is important to note that between mid-May and mid-September, visitors will need to purchase a timed reservation ticket


Crater Lake

Crate Lake - beautiful natural places in America
Crate Lake – beautiful natural landform in America

Photographed by Nina from Oregon is for Adventure

Over 7,000 years a huge volcanic eruption occurred, and today, we are left with the aftermath- an epic and stunning lake! 

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the country, and one of the most pristine and clear in the entire world. Crater Lake is Oregon’s only national park and is visited and photographed by millions each year.

Crater Lake National Park is located in southern Oregon about 4.5 hours south of Portland and two hours south of Bend.

There are tons of things to do at Crater Lake including winter activities, hiking, swimming, and even a boat ride to Wizard Island. 

How to get the best shots of this natural wonder

One of the easiest ways to get some great shots of Crater Lake is to simply drive along the rim road that traverses the entire perimeter of the crater.

The rim road offers up views of Crater Lake the entire way and has plenty of stop-offs along the way. You can hop in and out of the car and easily take shots along the way from all angles. The drive is only 33-miles so it’s easily done as a leisurely drive. 

There isn’t a stop off along the rim road to “get the shot” as really, it’s quite a view from any side! The best way to drive rim road is clockwise so it’s easier to pull off.

Best time to shoot this natural landmark

The best time to visit is early or late so you can catch golden hour but do keep in mind there are mountains surrounding the lake. So the sun will come up and go down behind them a bit earlier/later than the actual sunrise/sunset.

Crater Lake is open year-round, however, the rim road will close during winter only allowing visitors to access certain areas.

Make sure to grab your America the Beautiful National Park pass or purchase a pass at the entrance to the park.


Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – famous natural US landmark

Grand Canyon of Yellowstone- one of the most beautiful natural places in America
Grand Canyon of Yellowstone- one of the most beautiful natural places in America

Photographed by Sean from Living Out Lau

The National Parks of the US are home to some of the best natural landmarks in the country, and few are as spectacular as the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone National Park. 

The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone is formed by the constant erosion of the Yellowstone River and now spans a total of 20 miles. Within that 20 miles are two waterfalls, the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls, that make the landscape even more stunning.

As one of the best attractions in Yellowstone, there are many vantage points where you can see this natural wonder. 

Various points to shoot from 

First, you want to decide which waterfall you want to see, the Upper Falls or the Lower Falls. The Lower Falls is much nicer since it is about 3 times the size of the Upper Falls.

For viewing the Upper Falls, there are only a few viewpoints where you can do so – Artist Point, Inspiration Point,  and Lower Lookout Point.

The Artist Point is one of the most popular vantage points simply because the view is amazing and there is no hiking involved. It is a point where a lot of artists have painted, hence earning its name.

The Inspiration Point is not the best location to see the Yellowstone Falls, simply because it is very far from the Falls itself. You will only see a sliver of the Falls at Inspiration Point.

The Lower Lookout Point is one of the best spots to see the Lower Falls, but it is a steep 0.75 miles downhill. So if you have major mobility issues, this isn’t the spot for you.

The best vantage point to photograph from 

Overall, Artist Point is probably the best place to photograph the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. Not only do you see the curves and bends of the Canyon, but you have the mighty Lower Falls in the background! 

The best time to visit this natural wonder

Autumn is the perfect time to come as the fall foliage colors amplify the beauty of the Grand Canyon. To get there, you will need to go through one of the entrances of Yellowstone National Park, which you will have to pay for!


Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone

Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone- one of the best natural wonders in the USA
Grand Prismatic Spring, Yellowstone- one of the best natural wonders in the USA

Photographed by Taryn from Happiest Outdoors

Visiting Grand Prismatic Spring is one of the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park. It is one of the biggest and deepest hot springs in the world. 

But the thing that makes it so spectacular is its rainbow colors. Different types of bacteria have adapted to the water temperature in the spring, and the differences in their color give Grand Prismatic Spring its unique look. 

How to get to the spring

You can find Grand Prismatic Spring on Grand Loop Road in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. There are two different ways to see the spring. 

If you park at the Grand Prismatic Spring Parking Lot at Midway Geyser Basin, you can do a short 0.5-mile walk to the edge of the spring on a flat boardwalk trail.

But for the best view of the hot spring’s gorgeous colours, you should hike the Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook Trail. 

It starts at the Fairy Falls Parking lot 1 mile south of Midway Geyser Basin. The hike is 1.2 miles round trip and is fairly easy since it is on an old road, except for the final steep hill. The trail ends at a viewing platform, which is the best place to photograph Grand Prismatic Spring from above (besides taking an airplane!)

How to get the best shot of this natural landscape

For the best photos, visit on a sunny day when it’s not that cold (above 60F). If you arrive at the parking lot and you can see lots of steam over the spring, don’t bother hiking up to the viewpoint as the steam will obscure the spring. 

Avoid mornings and aim for the afternoon since the steam often burns off by then. However, the parking areas are often very busy in the early afternoon.

Entrance to Yellowstone National Park costs $35 per vehicle and is good for seven days from the date of purchase. You can also buy a Yellowstone annual pass for $70 or the America the Beautiful Pass, which gives you entry to all National Parks for a year and costs $80.


The Grand Tetons

Grand Tetons- most beautiful place in America nature
Grand Tetons- one of the most beautiful natural places in America to photograph

Photographed by Sarah & Matt from Two Outliers

Located on the western border of Wyoming, the dramatic, jagged peaks of the Grand Tetons are the most iconic mountain range in the United States. 

From the snow-covered peaks to the many crystal clear alpine lakes, there is so much to explore in Grand Teton National Park.

Grand Teton National Park is full of incredible viewpoints and natural landmarks with varying degrees of difficulty to reach. Many are easily accessible from the car, others require a short hike, and up-close views of the Tetons can be reached via long treks in the backcountry. 

Best short hike for a stunning view

One of the best short hikes in the Grand Tetons is Schwabacher Landing, for a stunning view of the snowy peaks reflecting over a winding stream.

From the parking lot, you can continue for an easy 1-mile stroll until you reach the Snake River. 

How to get this photo

However, the best viewpoint (and the one seen from the photo above) is just a minute walk from the parking lot.

Tips for getting a great shot:

  • To catch that iconic reflection over the river, visit at sunrise or early in the day when the waters are most likely to be calm. 
  • Arrive early to beat the crowds! This is a very popular spot at sunrise, so if you want the best view, you’ll need to get there early.
  • For some different shots and to escape the crowds, continue further down the trail past the first viewpoint. The views continue but the crowds disappear. 

Other great viewpoints of the Grand Tetons include:

  • Snake River Overlook (accessible from the parking lot)
  • Oxbow Bend (accessible from the parking lot)
  • Mormon Row (short walk)
  • Jackson Lake (short walk)
  • Bradley Lake (5-mile hike)

Entrance Costs

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park costs $35 per vehicle and is good for one week. Alternatively, you can purchase an $80 annual U.S. National Parks Pass, giving you access to all national parks for one year. 

Best time of year to visit

The best time to hike in the Grand Tetons is June through September, as the area gets heavy snow that makes the trails impassable for much of the year. However, if you are content to photograph the magnificent peaks from the viewpoints, spring and fall are a magical time to visit to see the Tetons at their best: covered in snow! Sunrise and sunset are the best times of day to photograph the Grand Tetons.


Devils Tower- incredible natural landmark in the USA

Devils Tower- incredible natural landmark in the USA
Devils Tower- incredible natural landmark in the USA

Photographed by Taryn from Chasing Trail

Devils Tower, on the Wyoming side of the Black Hills, is one of the most iconic national landmarks in the U.S. 

The enormous igneous rock tower stands 867 feet tall from base to summit and seemingly rises out of nowhere. It was also the first official national monument, established in 1906. 

Several Native American tribes consider Devils Tower to be sacred land, and it’s a wildly popular destination for rock climbers. Unsurprisingly, the dramatic, unique rock formation is also a photographer’s dream. 

Address: WY-110, Devils Tower, WY 82714

How to photograph devils tower

Fortunately, there are many ways which are apparent the moment it comes into view from the road, whether you approach from Gillette or come over from South Dakota

Once you enter the park (which costs $25, or you can use an America the Beautiful pass), drive 2.5 miles to the Joyner Ridge Trailhead. While other trails are closer to the tower itself, this one is by far the best for photography. The sky, which seems to stretch on forever, along with the open prairie and ponderosa pines, perfectly frame the looming tower. 

Best time to shoot this natural wonder

The best time to photograph Devils Tower is unquestionably sunset. Wyoming has some of the best sunsets on Earth! Joyner Ridge Trail is accessible year-round, though from October through May, snowpack is likely. That’s not necessarily a drawback, as it adds an interesting dimension to photos. You can hike the 1.5-mile loop trail, but some of the best photo ops are actually from the small parking lot.


Mount Washington- natural landmark in North-East USA

Mount Washington USA Natural landmark beautiful places to photograph
Mount Washington – USA Natural landmark and a beautiful place to photograph

Photographed by Kate from New Hampshire Way

Mount Washington, located in the heart of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, is the highest peak in the northeast United States (6,288 feet, or 1,916 meters). 

Topping the epic Presidential Range, Mount Washington is home to “the worst weather in the world,” and some of the world’s highest wind speeds have been recorded here. But if you get a nicer day, the views are beyond spectacular.

Best Ways to Experience Mt Washington

Experienced hikers can climb their way to the top; some intrepid hikers like to hit two or three peaks in a single day. Conquering Mount Washington in the winter, a challenging feat, will earn you major bragging rights in the Granite State!

For non-hikers, the Mount Washington Cog Railway, once the first mountain railway in the world (today, the second-steepest railway on the planet) carries riders on an unforgettable journey to the summit. It costs $72 per person and is easily one of the best things to do in New Hampshire.

Driving the Mount Washington Auto Road is a must for adrenaline-lovers, and completing the journey will get you the ubiquitous THIS CAR CLIMBED MOUNT WASHINGTON sticker seen throughout New England. The cost is $39-45 per car and $20 per adult passenger, $9 per child passenger.

When to Visit

Mount Washington is at its best during the summer or fall months. If you’re looking to experience gorgeous fall foliage, you’re best off aiming for early to mid-October. Go earlier in the day, as afternoons in the White Mountains are often overcast.

Best Spots to Shoot

For photo spots, we love the scenic overlook on the southbound side of Route 302 just past the intersection with Mount Washington Hotel Road. You’ll get a view of the famous, historic Mount Washington Resort set beautifully against the eponymous mountain.

Some other good shots are when passing hikers while on the Cog Railway, and from the summit, overlooking the other mountains. If you have good weather, that is. Sometimes it’s solid white at the summit! 


Niagara Falls- possibly the most famous natural landmark in America!

Niagara Falls incredible natural wonder in America
Niagara Falls incredible natural wonder in America

Visited by David & Intan from The World Travel Guy

The waterfalls at Niagara Falls are famous for their power and beauty, divided between Canada and the United States. These are some of the biggest and best falls in North America, and they’re great for photography too, so they’re well worth a visit.

There’s plenty of vehicle parking so you can visit the falls by foot, and it’s easy to reach with a short, flat walk that wraps around the river edge and allows you to see the falls from many different angles. You can also go down to the falls with an elevator and tour the American Falls up close (careful with cameras!), or do a scenic boat ride around the falls.

Best Photo Spots of this American natural wonder

On the U.S. side of the falls, the best spot for photography is probably the Niagara Falls Observation Tower, which sits on the north side of the American Falls and is free to access. Another good photo spot is Luna Island, which is on the south side of the American Falls and allows you to get right up close to the river as it cascades over the edge of the falls.

While the Horseshoe Falls are impressive to see, they’re harder to photograph from the U.S. side since there’s so much spray and mist from the powerful waterfall. They’re still worth visiting, but you’ll want to keep cameras protected near the falls.

Cost to Visit

The Niagara Falls State Park is free to visit, although activities like boat rides or tours cost extra. There may also be some parking fees, depending on where you park. Parking: $15 USD

Address: Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Best Time to Shoot

Generally the best time for photography is early in the morning, when the lighting is better and you can usually see lots of rainbows! Make sure you protect your camera from any spray – you might prefer to use something like a Go Pro rather than a DSLR for this one!


We hope you enjoyed this guide to the best natural landmarks and wonders of North America, and where to take the best photos of them. Let us know which one was your favourite.

Incredible US natural landmarks- beautiful places to visit in nature and how best to photograph them
Incredible US natural landmarks- beautiful places to visit in nature and how best to photograph them

Enjoy this? Your friends might too...

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.