Are you traveling through North America and are in search of must-see western USA nature ideas? With all of the natural wonders of the American west, there is no shortage of beautiful places you HAVE to see. From the desert landscapes of the southwest, to the highest peaks of Yosemite, this region of the world is so spectacular.
Why Should You Take a Nature Escape to the Western USA?
This western region of the country is extremely ecologically diverse and beautiful.
If you are tired of the hustle and bustle of the big city, there are thousands of miles of highways that can take you to any of these hot spots – and it will be worth your trip!
Escaping from the stressors of life and enjoying Mother Nature is a thing we humans long for in today’s world of concrete, traffic, and deadlines to meet at work or else!
If you would like to read more about how enjoying the outdoors can be the breath of fresh air you need to stay happy, check out this article 8 Reasons Why Nature is Key to Mental Well-Being.
What parts of the country are considered “The West?”
Virtually, every part of the US that isn’t along the Atlantic coastline has been considered the west in American history. Many of us learned in school about Western migration, Louis and Clark, and the idea of expanding westward was a part of American history.
So what is considered “the West” in today’s modern society?
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, the western United States consists of the region mostly west of the great plains, including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
Alaska and Hawaii, although technically the most western states in the country, are not included in this list, as these states are typically not conceived as the west, but something unique and stand alone on their own!
Plus, as someone who grew up in Texas, I often heard my home state referred to as the “Southwest,” so there might be a Texas spot or two on my list!
(Technically, Texas is considered central, which makes more sense as it sits right in the middle of the country!)
Here are my favorite Western USA Nature Ideas to Visit!
1. Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it was one of the first national parks I ever visited in my adult life which has since inspired my love for nature and the outdoors.
This national park deserves a spot on everyone’s bucket list!
2. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree is, to me, one of the most unique landscapes to look at in the American West. The natural Joshua Trees and desert landscape make for a photogenic backdrop. There are also plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy at the park. If you are looking for advice on your next trip to the park, check out this article Joshua Tree National Park: Ultimate Guide.
3. Yosemite National Park
This vast national park is one of the most visited in the whole US, and it is no wonder why! From mountains, to valleys, to majestic sequoia trees, the place is truly one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Looking for an epic hiking adventure in Yosemite? Check out this article Half Dome Hike Yosemite National Park: A Guide.
4. Big Bend National Park
Big Bend National Park is one of my favorite places to visit in my home state of Texas, and it deserves a spot on this list!
Although there is some debate about whether or not Texas is part of the so-called “Southwest,” for purposes of this article, I am going to say it is so! This region of the state, adjacent to Arizona, shares a lot in common with other Southwestern states.
Big Bend National Park is part of the Chisos Mountain Range and it is so beautiful! It is one of the least visited parks, however, it is worth the trek to this destination.
For a guide on one of the most beautiful hiking trails in the park, check out this article Lost Mine Trail in Big Bend: A Guide.
5. Mt. Woodson Trail (Potato Chip Rock)
This natural rock formation near San Diego, California is one of Nature’s most interesting sights! Take a hike to Mt. Woodson Trail, and enjoy all of the beautiful scenery along the way. In my opinion, this is a Western USA treasure! Check out more things to do in San Diego here!
6. Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park holds a very special place in my heart since I visited there with my family as a child. After more than a decade since visiting, the geysers and volcanic hot springs!
One thing that I love about America is that we have so many natural wonders to see here at home. Can’t go to Iceland to see a volcanic hot spot? No problem because we have them in Yellowstone!
Yellowstone is also home to hundreds of species of animals, including bears and buffalo!
7. Redwood National and State Parks
You have probably heard of this forest because it is home to the TALLEST trees on earth! Located in Northern California, this string of protected forest is a United States treasure! These giant trees can reach over 320 feet tall – that’s more than a 30-story skyscraper!
8. Sequoia National Park
Not too far from the Redwoods, Sequoia National Park is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains of northern California. You may have heard of the giant Sequoia trees, as they are some of the largest and oldest living things on the planet! Some Sequoia trees were alive even before Biblical times. This park is a must-see and it will blow your mind!
9. Big Sur
Big Sur is a naturally rugged piece of California’s coastline known for majestic seaside cliffs. Here, you will find numerous places for hiking, camping, and beachcombing. If you love surfing, you are bound to catch some great waves on this beach!
10. Death Valley National Park
Ignore the fact that this national park has a bit of a scary name, because Death Valley is a beautiful, epic, escape to nature! Located across eastern California, and Nevada, Death Valley is well-known for Titus Canyon and Badwater Basin’s salt flats. This is the perfect place for amazing travel photos too!
11. Kings Canyon National Park
Located adjacent to Sequoia National Park, King’s Canyon is a national park known for huge sequoia’s such as the General Grant Tree, huge granite walls, and rivers. This place is truly an epic nature escape you don’t want to miss!
12. Grand Canyon
You’ve probably heard of this place before because it is very well-known and one of the most visited national parks in the US! At this natural wonder, you will find layers of rock revealing much geological history along with immense hiking trails with breathtaking views!
13. Jackson Hole
Located near Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National parks, Jackson Hole, Wyoming iis a top destination for nature enthusiasts with plenty of outdoor activities for the whole family! In the summer, there is lots of hiking and biking to do, and in the winter there are lots of ski areas to choose from.
14. Orcas Island
Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands, is located off the coast of Washington and is a great place to go whale watching – hence the name orcas. This island helps you get exposure to one of nature’s most fascinating creatures – the orca whale, otherwise known as the killer whale! All you need to do is make a reservation and you can experience this epic part of nature for yourself!
15. Arches National Park
This national park will have you awe-struck with its more than 2,000 naturally occurring sandstone arches! Located in Utah, north of Moab, this western destination looks as if it came straight out of a movie! You should definitely add this destination to any USA roadtrip or bucket list.
16. White Sands National Park
In New Mexico, there is a national park that is a one-of-a-kind experience! This place is home to miles and miles of white sand, and it looks like a movie scene! This is a must-see stop on your USA roadtrip, and it is most-definitely an epic nature adventure!
17. Carlsbad Caverns
This national park located in the Chihuahuan Desert of south New Mexico is really a sight to see! This western USA nature idea is very epic, featuring more than 100 caves showcasing stalactites, underground chambers, and wildlife!
18. Garden of the Gods
Looking for an epic hike in the American West? Then Garden of the Gods is the place for you! This location in Colorado Springs, Colorado features huge rocks that look like they are out of this world! If you don’t want to hike, you can drive and enjoy easy terrain along paved sidewalks, still reaping the benefits of spending time in the outdoors!
19. Vail, Colorado
Vail, Colorado is a great destination to enjoy scenic views, hiking (in summer) and skiing (in winter!) You can also enjoy eating at nice restaurants and shopping after spending the day on the mountain. I loved my time in Vail, and I highly recommend visiting!
20. Zion National Park
This national park in Utah is absolutely EPIC and you are bound to love it! Featuring the steep red cliffs of the Zion Canyon, there is plenty of hiking along the canyon floor as well as swimming in the Virgin River. It is truly a beautiful sight to see!
21. Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs in Southern California is a city with lots of opportunity to enjoy the natural wonder of the desert, and then return home to a spa day at the hotel! You can find a lot of hiking in the surrounding area of the city, and even take a ride on a tramway up a mountain. This place is a great spot to soak in the sun and enjoy the outdoors!
This article was all about Western USA Nature Ideas
Hopefully, this article gave you inspiration for your western road trip, or a weekend getaway from home! As you can see, the western states in the US have so many things to do and they offer a variety of scenery. You can never run out of beautiful things to see, and you will love getting away to experience the majestic Mother Nature.