You’re sitting at the movies watching the camera pan a spectacular landscape. You think “This is so beautiful, it must be photoshopped.” Wrong. America has thousands of breathtaking landscapes. Many, like Diamond Head in Hawaii, have been photographed zillion times, but others are more so unknown to the masses.
You may come upon them unexpectedly. Here is the list of our ten favorites.
10. Superior National Forest, Minnesota
Are you sick of crowds and clamor? Time to head for beautiful Superior National Forest, located on the US/Canadian border, and edging the North shore of Lake Superior. The forest is known for its remote areas and vast number of lakes and streams – 695 square miles to be exact.
As you gaze out over the miles of pine, fir, and spruce trees making up the unbroken forest along the Scenic Byway, you can almost hear a gray wolf calling to its pack. The Sawtooth Mountains stand guard along the road. And then in the distance you spy a diamond-like glimmer. Is it Lake Superior? The fisherman inside of you rejoices, trout, bass, pike or perch, it all sounds delicious. And then you are struck by the vastness of Lake Superior. For a moment you wonder if you made a wrong turn and ended up at the ocean. But no, you are still in Minnesota enjoying your vacation.
Closest City: Duluth, MN
9. Portage Glacier, Chugach National Forest, Alaska
Located on the Kenai Peninsula in the Chugach National Forest, the Portage Glacier reminds us of past ice ages and the power of Mother Nature. At one time, the Glacier stretched to cover the entire Portage Valley. Today, expansion and contraction of the Glacier still occurs, mostly due to climatic conditions, but the Glacier has decreased in size. As a matter of fact, it has broken down into 5 different glaciers, all beautiful in their own right.
The icy veneers appear blue or pink or orange as they reflect the sky or sunset. For the best way to see the Glaciers, take a cruise across Portage Lake. As you approach the glaciers you will get a feeling for their scope and size. You will most likely feel small, which is just what Mother Nature intended.
Closest City: Whittier, AK
8. Cherohala Skyway, North Carolina and Tennessee
Dedicated in 1996 and connecting Tellico Plains, Tennessee with Robbinsville, North Carolina, the Cherohala Skyway takes visitors on a stunning ride through the Cherokee and Nantahala National Forests. As a matter of fact, the name “Cherohala” is derived from the names of the two national forests.
The Skyway is over 50 miles long and rises to an elevation of almost a mile high as it passes through mountains and valleys. You can almost feel the presence of the earliest Native American inhabitants as you move along.
Be sure to stop at the Skyway Visitor Center in Tellico Plains as you either begin or end your journey. At the Visitor Center you will learn about the important Civil War history that is also a part of the Skyway’s history. As a matter of fact, you can follow some of the trails directly related to the various Civil War battles fought in the area. Or maybe you are trying to escape from the strife of the 21st Century for a while.
In that case, glance out of the window as the road winds beside vistas complete with hairpin turns and blue mountains in the distance. You might almost be on top of the world. Beautiful at any time of the year, the Autumn visage is spectacular.
Closest City: Tellico Plains, TN or Robbinsville, NC