Fascinating Locations You Won’t Believe are in the US

Shannon Quinn - September 7, 2022
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Fort Jefferson. Credit: Wikimedia Common

Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida

Dry Tortugas National Park is a national park. The park preserves Fort Jefferson and the seven Dry Tortugas islands, the westernmost and most isolated of the Florida Keys. The archipelago’s coral reefs are the least disturbed of the Florida Keys reefs. The park is noted for abundant sea life. It also has tropical bird breeding grounds, colorful coral reefs, and legends of shipwrecks and sunken treasures. The park’s centerpiece is Fort Jefferson, a massive but unfinished coastal fortress. Fort Jefferson is the largest brick masonry structure in the Western Hemisphere, and is composed of more than 16 million bricks.

Dry Tortugas National Park. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

 Among United States forts it is exceeded in size only by Fort Monroe, Virginia, and Fort Adams, Rhode Island. Dry Tortugas is unique in its combination of a largely undisturbed tropical ecosystem with significant historic artifacts. The park is accessible only by seaplane or boat and has averaged about 63,000 visitors annually in the period from 2008 to 2017. Activities include snorkeling, picnicking, birdwatching, camping, scuba diving, saltwater fishing and kayaking. Overnight camping is limited to 8 primitive campsites at the Garden Key campground — located just south of Fort Jefferson. Dry Tortugas National Park is part of the Everglades and Dry Tortugas Biosphere Reserve, established by UNESCO in 1976 under its Man and the Biosphere Program. (via National Park Service)

Bryce Canyon National Park. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Bryce Canyon National Park is an American national park located in southwestern Utah. The major feature of the park is Bryce Canyon, is not a canyon, but a collection of giant natural amphitheaters. Bryce is distinctive due to geological structures called hoodoos, formed by frost weathering and stream erosion of the river and lake bed sedimentary rocks. The red, orange, and white colors of the rocks provide spectacular views for park visitors. Bryce Canyon National Park is much smaller and sits at a much higher elevation than nearby Zion National Park. The rim at Bryce varies from 8,000 to 9,000 feet.

A natural bridge made from rock in a canyon. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

The Bryce Canyon area was settled by Mormon pioneers in the 1850s and was named after Ebenezer Bryce. The area around Bryce Canyon was originally designated as a national monument by President Warren G. Harding in 1923 and was redesignated as a national park by Congress in 1928. The park covers 35,835 acres and receives substantially fewer visitors than Zion National Park (nearly 4.3 million in 2016) or Grand Canyon National Park (nearly 6 million in 2016), largely due to Bryce’s more remote location. In 2018, Bryce Canyon received 2,679,478 recreational visitors, which was an increase of 107,794 visitors from the prior year. (via National Park Service)

A tulip farm in Skagit Valley, Florida. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Skagit Valley, Washington

The most famous tulip garden in the world is the grand Keukenhof in the Netherlands. But if you can’t swing an international trip, book a flight to Washington’s Skagit Valley instead. The annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival celebrates the blooming of its massive tulip fields each spring. The Skagit Valley lies in the northwestern corner of the state of Washington, United States. Its defining feature is the Skagit River, which snakes through local communities which include the seat of Skagit County, Mount Vernon.

Every year, there is a tulip festival open to the public. Credit: Uprooted Traveler

The local newspaper is Skagit Valley Herald, published in Mount Vernon, Washington. Between 1967 and 1983, there was a plan by Puget Sound Power and Light Co. to build two nuclear power plants in Skagit Valley, but due to controversy, these plans were shelved. (via Visit Skagit Valley)

Haysack Rock in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach is a city in Clatsop County, Oregon. Its population was 1,690 at the 2010 census. It is a popular coastal Oregon tourist destination, famous for Haystack Rock. In 2013, National Geographic listed it as “one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places.” What is now Cannon Beach, as well as the coastal area surrounding it, is part of the traditional territory of the Tillamook tribe. William Clark, one of the leaders of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, journeyed to Cannon Beach in early 1805. Clark later explored the region himself. From a spot near the western cliffs of the headland he saw “…the grandest and most pleasing prospects which my eyes ever surveyed, in front of a boundless Ocean…” That viewpoint, later dubbed “Clark’s Point of View,” can be accessed by a hiking trail from Indian Beach in Ecola State Park.

Cow elk grazing in Cannon Beach. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Clark and several of his companions, including Sacagawea, completed a three-day journey on January 10, 1806. They encountered a group of Native Americans from the Tillamook tribe who were boiling blubber for storage. Clark and his party met with them and successfully bartered for 300 pounds of blubber and some whale oil. There is a whale sculpture commemorating the encounter between Clark’s group and the Tillamooks in a small park at the northern end of Hemlock Street. Clark applied the name Ekoli to what is now Ecola Creek. (via Cannon Beach)

Nā Pali Coast State Park. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Nā Pali Coast State Park, Hawaii

Nā Pali Coast State Park is a 6,175-acre state park in the U.S. state of Hawaii. It is located in the center of the rugged 16-mile northwest side of Kauaʻi, the second-oldest inhabited Hawaiian island. The Nā Pali coast itself extends southwest from Keʻe Beach all the way to Polihale State Park. The nā pali (high cliffs) along the shoreline rise as much as 4,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean. The state park was formed to protect the Kalalau Valley.

The Kalalau Trail. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

To the east of the state park is the Hono O Nā Pali State Natural Reserve. It was established in 1983 and later extended to over 3,578 acres in 2009. Hiking trails and hunters’ roads provide access to the sharp ridges from Koke’e Road (route 550) in Waimea Canyon. (via Division of State Parks)

Flushing, Queens after the rain. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Flushing, Queens

The New York metropolitan area is home to the largest population of Chinese people outside of Asia. It has six distinct Chinatowns within city limits. One of the largest communities is in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens. Flushing was established as a settlement of New Netherland on October 10, 1645, on the eastern bank of Flushing Creek. It was named Vlissingen, after the Dutch city of Vlissingen. The English took control of New Amsterdam in 1664, and when Queens County was established in 1683. In 1898, Flushing was consolidated into the City of New York. Development came in the early 20th century with the construction of bridges and public transportation. An immigrant population, composed mostly of Chinese and Koreans, settled in Flushing in the late 20th century.

Koreatown in Flushing, NY. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Flushing contains numerous residential subsections, and its diversity is reflected by the numerous ethnic groups that reside there. Flushing is served by several stations on the Long Island Rail Road’s Port Washington Branch. It is also known as the New York City Subway’s IRT Flushing Line, which has its terminus at Main Street. (via Wikipedia)

Indian Head. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is a U.S. National Lakeshore in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, United States. It extends for 42 miles along the shore of Lake Superior and covers 73,236 acres. The park has extensive views of the hilly shoreline between Munising and Grand Marais in Alger County. It has picturesque rock formations, waterfalls, and sand dunes.

These rock formations are popular among kayakers. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Pictured Rocks derives its name from the 15 miles of colorful sandstone cliffs northeast of Munising. The cliffs reach up to 200 feet above lake level. They have been naturally sculptured into a variety of shallow caves, arches, and formations resembling castle turrets and human profiles. The U.S. Congress designated Pictured Rocks the first National Lakeshore in the United States in 1966. It is governed by the National Park Service (NPS). (via National Park Service)

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness

Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness is located in San Juan County, New Mexico, between Chaco Canyon and the De-Na-Zin Wilderness. The wilderness has multicolored badlands, sandstone hoodoos, petrified wood and dinosaur bones. The BLM Wilderness Study Area (WSA) was declared in May 1992 and would protect an area of about 26.5 km2. The area was prospected by the dinosaur hunter Charles Hazelius Sternberg in the summer of 1921.

A rock formation called “Giant Hoodoo”. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Sternberg collected the type specimen of Pentaceratops fenestratus, a ceratopsid dinosaur from the late Cretaceous Period, within the WSA.  Fossil collecting here without a permit is prohibited by law. John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act, signed March 12, 2019. It authorizes the establishment of the Ah-Shi-Sle-Pah Wilderness as a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System,. This protects approximately 7,242 acres. (via Bureau of Land Management)

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