America’s Hidden Gems Worth Visiting This Year
America has many hidden gems waiting to be discovered by those who love traveling but want more than local tourist traps or busy attractions. Below are just a few hidden gems that I suggest for the new year. Spend your vacation immersing yourself in the nature, culture and history of each location. Travel slower and take the time to explore the beauty that lies in all of these unique destinations found throughout the United States.
Klondike Gold Rush National Park, Washington
Klondike Gold Rush National Park is an excellent travel destination for those who love immersing themselves in history. Home of the Klondike Gold Rush in the 1890’s the area saw thousands of men looking to make it big by discovering gold. Broken initially into four units, one in Seattle and three in Skagway, this national park preserves the history showcasing the minor’s harrowing journey.
In 1998, the park partnered with Canada to become the Klondike Gold Rush, International Park. It included three additional Canadian units: the Chilkoot trail, where miners hiked through the treacherous mountain passageways on their way west, and the “30-mile” section of the Yukon River, where they traversed the rapids. As you walk the mountain trails, you feel yourself connecting with the hopes and dreams of the men who risked everything for a better life for themselves and their families.
For even more information, check out the Dawson Historical Complex for an in-depth look into the miner’s lives, and explore the historic buildings dotting the Skagway landscape. For an extra adventure, take a ride on the White Pass And Yukon Railway; step back in time as you see the landscape in the same way the miners did over one hundred years ago.
Devil’s Tower Wyoming
Devil’s Tower is a must-see location for those looking to experience a spiritual connection during their travels. As a sacred Native American landmark, Devil’s Tower holds deep spiritual meaning and radiates a sense of power and majesty. Established as a National Monument in 1906 by President Theodore Roosevelt, this unique rock formation is truly one of a kind. There is no other like it in the world, and scientists cannot precisely determine what it is. Although it looks like a volcano, experts continue to disagree on its origins, creating a mystery that adds to the spiritual pull of the area.
Visitors can spend their time hiking one of the eight miles of trails, or for those who are more adventurous, take the two-mile journey up the Tower Trail to the top. Only 1% of visitors take this trip, making it a very appealing option for daredevils and adventure seekers alike! Allow the deep earth connections to draw you in and feel the Tower’s power as you connect with nature.
Molokai is Hawaii’s hidden gem of an island, where visitors can get an authentic Hawaiin experience. There are no traffic lights, luxury resorts, or buildings taller than a palm tree, as the natives on the island seek to maintain the unspoiled terrain of their beloved home. When you step onto Molokai, you immediately find a unique culture, separated from the Hawaiian Islands’ mainland and popular tourist areas. A rich cultural heritage wraps around you and appears in everything from the beaches to the local restaurants.
Molokai natives are proud to teach you about their rich heritage, including the fact that their island is the birthplace of the hula, the popular sacred dance, and chant created over one thousand years ago. The island is also home to one of the world’s highest sea cliffs, delivering 360 degrees of breathtaking ocean and mountain views, unlike anywhere else in the world. Fringe reefs bursting with sea life, powerful waterfalls, and lush valleys are all waiting for you to discover. The best part of Molokai is how eager the natives are to teach visitors about their culture. They encourage you to ask questions and are experts in local tradition and lore. When you visit this lovely island, you are sure to return with stories you will tell for years to come!
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
If you’re searching for unique geological features, look no further than Smith Rock State Park. The towering rocks form impressive peaks, resembling gothic cathedrals, and seem to reach towards the heavens. The area sees only small amounts of rainfall, boasting around 300 sunny days a year, making it ideal for the camper or trail hiker who enjoys spending their time sleeping under the stars. It’s the perfect vacation when you’re seeking to abandon the hustle of the modern world and step back in time to when nature ruled supreme.
Your imagination can run wild when you visit Smith Rock State Park. There are trails for every skill level, making this location excellent for the entire family! Make your way along the winding rivers and connect with the abundant wildlife. Eagles and falcons are a common occurrence, so spend your time searching the skies and see how many of these glorious birds you can find. Many rivers have formed crevices over thousands of years, allowing you to explore areas untouched by man and as pristine as the day they were created. After your hike, you can stop by one of the microbreweries and listen as the locals recount their stories of exploration and peril within the park.
Block Island, Rhode Island
If you want to stay closer to civilization but still leave the world’s busyness behind, check out Block Island. Accessible only by plane or ferry, the island has no big chain stores or stoplights. Explore the historic lighthouses and rustic farms or hike along the windswept beaches and clay cliffs. The locals are welcoming and love chatting about the history of their island. They love boasting how it hasn’t changed since the late 1800s. Leave the world behind and go back in time when you visit Black Island.
If you’re looking to find hidden gems and spend your vacation learning about the culture and history of new locations, why not check out one of these stunning locations. Each one has a story to tell, and if you’re willing to listen, there is so much you can learn!
Cover photo is of Block Island’s Coast Guard Station. Courtesy of Pixaby.
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Stacy Miller is a U.S. Army wife who has traveled around America and developed a love for exploring new places. She loves road-tripping and seeing new sights while getting to know the locals at a mom-and-pop restaurant or a favorite local hangout. Although she hasn’t been able to travel as much recently, Stacy spends as much time as she can in nature, walking trails or admiring the ocean.