Believe me, when I say, this has to be one of the hardest lists to narrow down. There are an endless amount of crazy beautiful places in North America. And, during my travels in a van, I was lucky enough to check out a few of them. I mostly concentrated on the west coast, as this is adventurers and hikers’ dream – the forests, the mountains, the rivers, the desert -. They are just so diverse and perfect in their own right. I lived for a few years in Banff National Park, in the Rocky Mountains, Canada, so I’ll kick this list off with a few places from there among the other best places to hike in North America!
1. Moraine Lake
You’ve seen the postcard, you’ve heard the phrase ‘the water really is that blue!’ Well, friends, the hype is very real. Moraine Lake is quite possibly the most beautiful lake in the world. It is crowned by 10 mountain peaks and a myriad of hikes start from this spot. Because of the ease of reaching this lake, it’s not uncommon at sunrise, to see loads of people ready with their tripods, so my suggestion to visit this lake is to arrive early.
2. Agnes Lake Teahouse and the Little Beehive
Another one of the best places to hike in North America, located in the Rocky Mountains, this short but steep hike is both beautiful and involves snacks. The first stop at the Agnes Teahouse allows you to catch your breath, admire the glorious view, and buy a beverage or treat. All the food is handmade on the premises here and tastes so much better after a hike. Onwards and upwards, you can keep going to the Little Beehive. The summit here is one of the best for looking out over the famous Lake Louise, below.
3. Grand Prismatic Spring
Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming is like if the wild west and mars had a love child. The geysers and hot springs which make up a huge amount of the national park, come in all sorts of strange shapes and colors. The Grand Prismatic hot spring is the largest and probably one of the most striking features in the park. This spring is scorching hot (like would melt your skin off hot) and is home to all sorts of bacteria, helping to create the vibrant colors. A truly beautiful and intriguing sight to behold. There is also a new viewing platform where you can see this spring from above.
4. Monument Valley
Straddling the border of Utah and Arizona, Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park will look pretty familiar to any Western movie lovers out there. Known by the Navajo people as Tse’Bii’Ndzisgaii, this place has been used as the filming location for many westerns. But far longer ago than that, Monument Valley has been a sacred place to the Navajo people. There are some short hikes which can be done here, but most of the viewpoints can be visited by driving the main road. Be warned though, this road is dirt and has some serious potholes so a high clearance vehicle is recommended.
5. Crater Lake
Imagine the most perfect circular lake, of the deepest blue, created from a collapsed volcano – this is Crater Lake in central Oregon. Approx. 7,700 years ago a massive eruption and collapse of a volcano created what we now see today. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the USA and also one of the purest, fed by rain and snow. I think the best way to experience this place, is to simply drive around its Rim Drive. Then, stop and walk wherever you feel compelled.
6. Angel’s Landing
Known as one of the scariest hikes in the world, Angel’s Landing is so worth tempting fate. Situated in Zion National Park, Utah, this 2.5-mile hike is so stunning, and exhilarating at that! I personally didn’t feel this hike was as scary as all the hype made it out to be. Yes, there are sheer drops and chains on cliff tops, but I never felt it was too much (I’ve done less known but scarier hikes before). Just be sensible and know that the view throughout and at the end is so worth it!
7. Multnomah Falls
The Columbia River Gorge in Oregon is home to an abundance of waterfalls and Lord of the Rings-like scenery. Sadly a huge fire ripped through this gorgeous part of Oregon in 2017 and changed the way this place looks forever. I was fortunate enough to visit Multnomah Falls before and after the fire and luckily it was left untouched. This stunning waterfall is just a small walk from the car park. And yes, you can even walk onto the little bridge that sits high above.
8. Antelope Canyon
Antelope Canyon, Arizona, is the most famous slot canyon in the world and has been photographed countless times. The canyon is on Navajo land, and therefore, a tour must be booked to visit it. I found this experience quite stressful as I love photography, and getting shots without any people in them was super difficult. I can only imagine how beautiful it must be, to walk these canyons alone, as the light and colors of the rock look like abstract works of art.
9. Devil’s Bridge and Sedona
Sedona is a hiker, red rock paradise. In the south of Arizona, this area of great towering red rock cliffs and crazy rock formations has become pretty famous as a hiking destination. Sedona is also said to be both sacred and powerful, where people come from far and wide to experience the energy and the cosmic vortexes. I just came for the unreal hiking! My favorite trail here was the Devil’s Bridge – a perfect arched bridge made of giant red rock.
10. Artists Palette
In Death Valley National Park, California, lies a magical cluster of jagged hills and rocks. When the sun is setting, these rocks light up with color and you can truly see why it is called Artists Palette. Now, to be honest, I didn’t know to wait for the sun to go down and I left before seeing this area in all its beauty. The photos that I took were very bright because of the sun directly hitting the rock. But, I would love to get back here and try and photograph Artists Palette in all its splendor. So there’s my photograph tip for you!
Well, lovely people, that’s a wrap about the best places to hike in North America. I could write pages and pages about the beauties in North America, and I have barely seen anything! I have loved every minute of my time exploring, living, and driving here. And, I know it’s going to keep pulling me back time and time again, as there is so much more for me to discover. Thanks for reading and I hope this helps inspire your next road trip.
*All photos belongs to Rhyll herself except the cover image.