Don’t Have The Budget For International Travel? Check Out These Hidden Wonders Of The United States

The Earth is filled with natural wonders, carved and sculpted by nature’s passage of time. Mountains and rivers chiseled by ancient glaciers dot the global landscape, along with waterfalls, caves and marshes. Surprisingly, many of these impressive features can be found in America, across its expansive 3.8 million square miles.

Wild locations like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are well known for their beauty and landscape, but a plethora of just-as-beautiful others are hidden throughout the nation. These secreted gems offer visitors a unique opportunity to not only see natural America, but also to take a trip off the beaten path.

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The Black Hills

Black Hills American Wonders

Native Americans have inhabited the Black Hills of South Dakota since at least 7000 BC. The hills were the site of gold mining and as you might guess, numerous battles between the government and Native Americans. Today, they are an annual gathering place for over 550,000 bikers. Source: Matador Network

The Black Hills

Buffalo in the Black Hills

The Black Hills landscape is incredibly complex as well, featuring craggy rocks, grasslands and wet valleys. The environment is home to a wide array of animals, including buffalo, mountain lions and Bighorn Sheep. Source: Matador Network

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Hidden Wonders Bombay Hook

Migratory birds have a friend in Delaware at the Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1937, the 15,978-acre tidal marsh is one of the largest and most pristine expanses in the Mid-Atlantic region. Source: Stephen L Tabone Nature Photography

Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge

Bombay Hook Wildlife Reserve

As high-quality habitats along the Atlantic Flyaway disappear, Bombay Hook has become increasingly important as a stop for migratory birds that travel north to their breeding grounds. Source: Stephen L Tabone Nature Photography

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Hidden Wonders

Tucked in the Guadalupe Mountains of New Mexico is Carlsbad Caverns National Park, where caverns are king. The park contains 119 limestone caves that were carved out by sulfuric acid. Source: Matador Network

Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

The caverns were once a part of a primordial sea that existed 250 million years ago. Bones from ice age animals like giant sloths, lions and camels have been found around the entrances to the caves. Source: Weird World Facts

Death Valley

Beautiful Sunset Death Valley

Though Death Valley is the driest and hottest area in North America, it actually sits over one of the world’s largest aquifers. The valley's oldest rocks are over 1.7 billion years old. Source: Matador Network

Death Valley

Death Valley Racetrack Playa

Death Valley is also known for Racetrack Playa, where rocks seem to move without any intervention from humans or animals. Scientists recently discovered that the rocks don’t use magic to move, but rather slide across thin sheets of ice that are pushed by wind whipping through the valley. Source: Matador Network

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Hidden Wonders in Texas

Just outside of Fort Worth, Texas is a place where you can actually walk in the footsteps of dinosaurs. Dinosaur Valley State Park actually has fossilized dino prints along the Paluxy River that runs through the park. Source: Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Valley State Park

Dinosaur Plains National Park

Hiking trails take you back through time on rugged and steep pathways, but at least you’re not running from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Source: Dinosaur Valley State Park

Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park

Picturesque waterfalls and rocky outcroppings aren’t normally associated with Ohio, but they’re definitely there. Hocking Hills State Park houses unique geographical features. Source: Business Insider

Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Falls Beautiful

Formed by glacial torrents, the park’s rock formations also include deep gorges, a rock shelter and a “devil’s bathtub,” which is a cool way to describe a creepy hole with water in it. Source: Bourbon Ridge Retreat

The Horicon Marsh

Horicon Freshwater Marsh

The largest freshwater cattail marsh isn’t in Florida or Louisiana, it’s actually in Wisconsin. The Horicon Marsh is an important habitat for redheaded ducks, Canadian geese and great blue herons. Over 268 different species of birds have been sighted in the area. Source: Adkotin

The Horicon Marsh

Marshland Hidden Wonders

The marshland remained unchanged until the arrival of European settlers, who modified it through draining and hunting. However, after it was deemed a wildlife refuge in 1927, water levels returned and it’s once again wild. Source: Birding is Fun

Craighead Caverns

Sea Cave in Tennessee

The United States’ largest non-subglacial underground lake is located outside of the small town of Sweetwater, Tennessee. The lake is part of an extensive cave system called Craighead Caverns. Source: Travel Mindset

Craighead Caverns

Lost Sea in America

Explorers have mapped 13 acres of water and discovered more cavernous rooms beneath the lake. The Lost Sea is marked by “cave flowers,” a rare phenomena that worked to have lake named as a National Landmark. Source: Lake Scientist

The Monument Rocks

Monument Rocks

These beautiful rock formations aren’t in the desert of Arizona, but rather in Kansas, in the middle of grassland. Oh, and they’re made out of chalk. Source: Tourist Destinations

The Monument Rocks

Monument Rocks in America

The Monument Rocks also have the accolades of being named the first national natural landmark by the Department of the Interior. They rise up 70 feet and are estimated to have been formed 80 million years ago. The formations are important shelters for birds, particularly the American kestrel who hunts across the prairie. Source: Nature's Arches and Bridges

Mount Desert Island

Mount Desert Island

Mount Desert Island looms over the water like a mountain, which is how it got its name. The island only has 10,000 year round residents, but visitors come to see Acadia National Park, which is located on the island. Source: Matador Network

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

The island dates back 550 million years ago when it was just a sea-floor mud deposit, created by volcanic ash. Eventually, the island rose and glaciers eroded its landscape, as visible in the extremely rocky landscape. Source: Matador Network

Northern Lights, Alaska

Northern Lights Hidden Wonders

Alaska is one of the best spots on the planet to see the Northern Lights or the Aurora Borealis. Caused by solar winds, the aurora looks like a rainbow doing yoga as it moves across the sky. Source: National Geographic

Northern Lights, Alaska

Northern Lights in Alaska

The Northern Lights are best observed in the winter when it’s darkest in Alaska. The displays take place 60 to 70 miles above the Earth, higher than a plane flies. Source: National Geographic

The Okefenokee Swamp

Okefenokee Swamp in Georgia

The Okefenokee Swamp covers 700 square miles in southeastern Georgia and northern Florida. The name comes from the Hitchiti Creek language meaning “Waters Shaking.” Source: Luxagraf

The Okefenokee Swamp

Okefenokee Swamp

The shaking waters could come from the sound of the male alligator as it bellows throughout the swamp. Be prepared for awesome paddling treks through 120 miles of swamp trail, just don’t fall in. Source: Luxagraf

Painted Hills, Oregon

Hidden Wonders in Oregon

One of Oregon’s 7 natural wonders are the painted hills near the town of Mitchell. Millions of years of history are exposed in the layered hills of the area like geological water painting. Source: Love These Pics

Painted Hills, Oregon

Red Painted Hills

Many ancient fossils have been discovered in the area, including early horses, camels and rhinos. The red coloring of the formations is due to laterite that was created by floodplain deposits. Source: Love These Pics

Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls in America

Washington’s Palouse Falls consists of upper falls at a drop of about 20 feet, which lead to the main drop and lower falls around 180 feet high. Rock benches, plunge pools and potholes have imprinted the surrounding landscape. Source: Matador Network

Palouse Falls

Palouse Falls

Kayaker Tyler Bradt ran the falls setting an unofficial world record for highest waterfall run. Lacking that kind of bravery, most of us just enjoy the pristine beauty of the locale. Source: Reddit

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Hidden Wonders Rocks Beach

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore runs nearly 40 rocky and sandy miles along the Lake Superior shoreline in Michigan. The colorful cliffs have been naturally sculpted into caves, peaks and arches. Source: Random Space

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Painted Rocks National Landshore

The colors of the painted rocks come from the large amount of minerals in them. The area contains most of Michigan’s waterfalls and makes for great recreational activity or even video production. In 2010, Kid Rock filmed the video for his song Born Free at the lakeshore. If he knows about it, you should too! Source: Random Space

For more natural wonders, check out Fly Geyser and our list of the most stunning natural destinations in Europe!

The Birth Of A Mosquito

We hate these stupid, menacing parasites. They are awful and useless– so much so that scientists have announced that we could completely eradicate the mosquito without any ecological consequences.

If 600,000+ deaths from malaria in 2012 alone aren’t enough to motivate the international community to rid the world of these pests, then it is likely they’ll be around for a while. Here is a video of one of the nasty suckers being born, which, as it turns out, is quite beautiful to watch. Now kill it.

How about some more images of gross, terrifying bugs?

Project Isabela: When Slaughtering 250,000 Goats Meant Saving A Species

Project Isabela Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands Source: Flickr

Charles Darwin called the Galapagos Islands “a little world within itself.” It’s hard to imagine what his life and work would have looked like without this Pacific Island archipelago, and it’s just as challenging to think of the island chain without the giant tortoises which give the islands their name. For a time, though, those tortoises were at risk of disappearing. To save them, Galapagos enthusiasts began to think about conservation in new, lethal and not-so natural terms.

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Capturing America’s Disappearing Rivers

Some people are just born for their jobs. Ansley West Rivers makes use of her aptly-given surname by creating portraits of various rivers across the nation. However, it’s not just strictly portfolio work; with her photos, Rivers hopes to bring awareness to America’s disappearing bodies of water, so she captures lakes and rivers through various stages of evaporation. Employing a splicing technique, she is able to show these bodies of water in their past, present and future stages. Rivers lives us with this thought: what we see now is not what we will always have.

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