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Top 22 Lesser-known US Places You Must See in 2022

22 unusual places in the USA worth visiting in 2022. OnlyInYourState.

Photo: Shutterstock

From a tunnel formed by lava millions of years ago in Washington DC to an expansive 100-hectare garden in downtown Florida, the United States of America is home to countless hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. These places are gems found in their backyard - and beyond.

MYTOI JAPANESE GARDEN

Scenic walking area on the quiet side of Martha's Vineyard.

Martha's Vineyard may be one of the most popular holiday destinations on the east coast. On the eastern side of the small island of Chappaquiddick, there is a place where you can find peace and solitude. MYTOI JAPANESE GARDEN was founded in the 1950s and covers 6 hectares in a sparsely populated area.

The centerpiece of the garden is a pond surrounded by a gorgeous pine grove. Frogs, turtles, fish and songbirds can be seen throughout this unique location.

The paths around the pond are dotted with vibrant flowers and unique plants, and the garden's thoughtful design features bridges, arches and other artificial accents. Benches dotted throughout the Mytoi create cozy spaces where you can sit and admire the beauty of the world around you.

NEWFANE

A charming old-fashioned New England town with stunning fall foliage.

Walking through Newfane, Vermont, you feel like walking back in time. Visit this charming rural town near the Green Mountains as fall colors begin to change and you are guaranteed to find a landscape that will take your breath away. Scenic New England fall foliage is visible all around the town. The Dummerston Covered Bridge and the Fair Brook Stone Arch Bridge are two of the area's most famous historic landmarks, perfect for photography.

On the subject: Beautiful and Free: Natural Wonders of Northern California That Are Worth Seeing

In the city, you will find buildings dating from 1700-1918. Be sure to check out the Newfane Country Store for old-fashioned candy, gifts, souvenirs, homemade cakes and café snacks. The Four Columns Inn is a historic place where you can stop off to end your stay in this charming and underrated city.

While the best time to visit is in autumn, if you come here in summer you can enjoy some lovely walks and other outdoor activities under the sun.

KAATERSKILL FALLS

Wild Forest, home of New York's tallest waterfall.

Kaaterskill Falls is the tallest waterfall in New York State, and the wild forest that surrounds it is a must-see for any nature lover in the Empire State.

This two-tiered cascade descends over 80 meters along Spruce Creek and was one of the New World's first tourist attractions. Today it is a popular destination for visitors to the Catskill Mountains.

Nature lovers visiting Kaaterskill Falls can view the falls from the accessible observation deck, which is less than 300m from the main Laurel House parking lot. More adventurous hikers can take a strenuous descent to the base of the falls, which is 2,5 km round trip. For a more challenging option, hiking shoes are recommended. Be sure to stay on the trail and follow all safety tips - there have been several fatalities from reckless hikers who ventured off the trail, climbed wet cliffs, and crossed Spruce Creek at the edge of the falls.

DESERT OF MAIN

Ancient geology and modern irresponsibility have created this truly unique desert.

The Maine Desert History, called Maine's Most Famous Natural Occurrence, is a story of human impact on the environment. Just outside Freeport, right in the middle of the forest, there are 12 hectares of sand. However, it was not brought in by trucks, and the forest was not cleared for tourists. Centuries ago, it was fertile farmland and sheep pasture. Years of ineffective farming, including overgrazing, have deprived the soil of nutrients, and now nothing will grow there.

The Maine Desert is a great place to visit during the summer, as it is open from May through early fall every year. There is a campground, gift shop and visitor center on site, making a full-day (or weekend) visit an adventure. Enjoy nature trails winding through the forest, visit a house covered in sand, and learn how our impact on Earth cannot be accurately measured.

CACHE RIVER STATE NATURAL AREA

Ancient cypress trees are found in an unspoilt wetland area of ​​6000 hectares.

In the far southern region of Illinois, the Cache River Natural Zone is a pristine wetland that time has forgotten. This natural area of ​​nearly 6000 acres is home to some of the highest quality wetlands in Illinois. The trees here are majestic giants who survived the axes and saws of the early settlers. Some cypress trees in the park are over 1000 years old, and the bases of these ancient trees can be over 12 meters high!

The gateway to this special natural area is the Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center. It is home to some fascinating exhibits and artifacts, as well as a wildlife-watching area overlooking the wetlands.

You can dive into the magic of the park along the 800-meter accessible walkway that leads to the old Cypress Creek bed. It is a quiet and serene place, and if you look into the wetlands, you can see wild minks, beavers, deer, muskrats and songbirds.

The park is also home to over 100 rare and endangered animal species. Time may have forgotten about this place, but it is worth visiting.

WINNEWISSA FALLS AT THE PIPESTONE NATIONAL MONUMENT

A sacred quarry filled with striking pink quartzite rocks and a roaring waterfall.

Tucked away in the southwestern corner of Minnesota, PIPESTONE NATIONAL MONUMENT is home to sacred quarries full of red catlinite or "Pipestone." The striking pink quartzite rocks have been harvested by the Plains Indians for centuries to make ceremonial pipes used in prayer. Many believe that the smoke of a pipe carries a prayer to the Great Spirit. Black Elk, leader of the Oglala Lakota (Sioux) tribe, famously said, "When you pray with this pipe, you pray for everyone and everything."

Today, the park is officially associated with 23 tribes, and only people of indigenous origin are allowed to extract prey from the monument. However, the park is open to everyone, and during the warmer months, pipe makers hold cultural events at the Indian Cultural Center of the Upper Midwest. Visitors can also purchase pipes, hammers, rattles and handcrafted ornaments at the Keepers of the Sacred Tradition of Pipe Makers gift shop.

As you walk, you will see stunning rock formations that are thousands of years old, open prairies and a picturesque stream, before you reach the roaring Winnewissa Falls. Surrounded by massive boulders, the falls descend 4,5m down the pink cliff into the stunning pool below. This legendary landscape is a photographer's dream and the perfect place to reflect on the beauty and power of nature.

WELCH SPRING HOSPITAL RUINS

An aquatic ruin with a fascinating history.

As you walk past the wreckage of Welch Spring Hospital, you may forget that this was once a place of healing. One of the first doctors believed that there was healing magic in the cold and clear spring waters, so he built a hospital for people with diseases such as tuberculosis. The enterprise finally collapsed and closed in 1940. Since then, nature has been restoring the property, and today this wild and beautiful place beckons curious explorers.

The ruins are part of the Ozark National Scenic Park, Missouri's largest national park. A short trail from the parking lot will lead you to the observation deck of the source. The hike to the hospital ruins is more challenging, but the adventurous can get a closer look at crumbling stone walls and the site of an old camping site.

LAKE OF THE CLOUDS IN THE PORCUPINE MOUNTAINS

Wild and dreamy views in the hinterland.

The first time you enter the observation deck, you will understand why this place is called Cloud Lake. Tucked high in the Porcupine Mountains in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the cloudy lake is a dreamlike place surrounded by ancient mountain peaks. Sometimes it is even obscured by clouds and fog that drifts and lingers in the old trees that surround the lake. This is one of the best natural views in Michigan. A few hours by car just to enjoy this amazing sight.

The Lake of the Clouds is located in the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park and is beautiful at any time of the year. In winter, it sparkles with ice and snow, in summer it is surrounded by a lush forest, and in autumn it explodes with bright colors.

The long uphill hike will take you to the observation deck, and hikers will find miles of remote trails to explore, including some that will take you to the water's edge. No matter how you get to know the lake, take enough time to this fabulous and unforgettable place.

BURGDORF HOT SPRINGS

A country resort with hot springs frozen in time.

Nestled deep in the mountains of Central Idaho, this is a rustic historic resort with several inviting mineral spring log pools waiting to relieve your stress.

Burgdorf Hot Springs Resort seems frozen in time and this is the definition of a hidden gem - in fact, it can only be reached by snowmobile in winter. Your car will be able to get there in summer, but this place is especially magical when surrounded by snow.

Fred Burgdorf was the first to establish hot springs here in the 1870s, build a log hotel and prepare hot meals for guests. To this day, you should be prepared to lose contact with the outside world when you visit. There is no cellular connection and very little electricity.

While the cabins have stoves, firewood, beds and basic furniture, there is no electricity or running water and you will have to bring your own bedding and kitchenware. Nevertheless, the guests agree that the whole point is out of touch with reality. All you need to worry about is taking a dip in the healing waters and breathing in the fresh mountain air.

MAKOSHIKA STATE PARK

Montana's largest park holds clues to the past.

Tucked away in the easternmost tip of Montana, at the southeastern tip of the Glendive, is one of the state's finest treasures. Makoshika State Park is Montana's largest park, covering about 5000 hectares, although its remoteness makes it a long journey for most Montana residents. Those who make the trip are rewarded with a unique rugged beauty not found anywhere else in the state.

The park is best known for its finds of dinosaur fossils, from Triceratops to Tyrannosaurus rex. After the days of the dinosaurs in the area long gone, the Lakota tribe spent a lot of time here. In fact, the park is named after the Lakota word meaning "bad land" or "bad land."

These days, the park is best used for hiking and learning. At the entrance to the park, you will find a visitor center with lots of information and interpretive exhibits for guests of all ages.

THE APE CAVES

Walk straight through the 2000 year old lava tube.

More than 2000 years ago, Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington, DC, causing lava to pour from the volcano's southern flank to form what we now call Ape Caves.

The formation of the caves marked a strange period in the history of Mount St Helens - the only known basaltic volcanic eruption. Eruptions of this kind in the Cascade Mountain are extremely rare. Today, the cold, pitch-black lava tube is open to the public for hiking and exploration, although there are some strict rules that guests must follow to protect and preserve it.

Do not touch the walls and ceiling of the cave, as this kills important cave slime that the tiny creatures rely on to survive.

As long as you show respect and leave no trace, exploring a cave can be an amazing, one-of-a-kind experience. The 3 km long cave is the third longest lava tube in North America and the longest continuous lava tube in the United States. For an easy, family-friendly hike, take the ¾ mile one-way trail to the lower cave.

If you are adventurous, the upper route takes you up a rock wall and several small rock hills.

DEVIL'S PUNCHBOWL

See shimmering salt water through the hollow rock formation.

The Oregon Coast stretches for 580 km and is full of breathtaking natural wonders. However, nowhere in the state can you find anything quite like Devil's Punchbowl. This tempting yet dangerous foaming sea cave has been around for 18 million years. This unique rock formation, formed as a result of the collapse of the cave ceiling due to the impact of the Pacific Ocean, now has the shape of a huge bowl.

You will find Devil's Punchbowl State Natural area located between Newport and Depoe Bay. If you're on Highway 101, you can't miss it - and you don't want to. You can easily reach the ruined cave by following an easy 1,3 km trail that takes you directly from the parking lot to the observation deck. From there, you can see the waves crashing inside the punch bowl formation. This scenic area is also a popular whale watching spot.

SLOAN CANYON PETROGLYPH SITE

One of the largest petroglyphs in North America.

The petroglyph, known as the Sistine Chapel of Native American Rock Art, can be found in the vast 19000-hectare nature reserve in southern Nevada. Sloan Canyon National Conservation Area is renowned for its extraordinary natural beauty and amazing cultural history.

The centerpiece of this remote park is the Sloan Canyon Petroglyph Site, a rugged canyon that houses over 300 cave paintings with no less than 1700 individual design elements. Archaeologists believe that the canyon rock carvings cover the culture of indigenous peoples from the archaic to the historical era, which means that exploring the canyon provides a unique opportunity to take a walk through ancient history.

It was declared a National Wildlife Refuge in 2002, so the conservation of Sloan Canyon's wildlife is of utmost importance. Only walking is encouraged, the use of any means of transport, including mountain bikes, is prohibited.

Visitors looking for this incredible place are asked to stay on the marked routes and refrain from touching the rock carvings (oils on the skin damage petroglyphs). Exploring Sloan Canyon is an impressive activity and 100 percent worth doing. additional measures to preserve the petroglyphs of the canyon and the history of the people who brought them to life.

THE HUNTINGTON LIBRARY,
ART MUSEUM, & BOTANICAL GARDENS

Art, history and natural beauty collide in this cultural oasis.

History, art and 48 hectares of varied gardens all come together at the Huntington Library, Museum of Art and Botanical Gardens in Southern California.

It was originally the private estate of railroad tycoon Henry Huntington. Now the combined museum, research center and botanical garden is a must-see. Together with his wife Arabella Duvall, Huntington amassed a huge collection of books, art and plants from all over the world during his lifetime. As a result, the Huntington estate has become a unique place that everyone can appreciate.

In Huntington, art and literature lovers can spend hours exploring the various art collections and the library, which houses rare books and manuscripts such as the Gutenberg Bible and Shakespeare's First Folio. Nature lovers can get lost in a dozen specialized gardens, each of which is a unique environment, from the dry Australian outback to the tropical jungle or palm garden or the totally serene Japanese or Chinese garden.

With so much to see, you can easily spend an entire day in Huntington without seeing all the incredible treasures it has to offer.

EMERALD COVE

A hidden cave filled with mesmerizing emerald waters.

Hidden by a notch in the canyon wall, Emerald Cove is a stunning natural refuge near the Arizona-Nevada border. A small cove with bright emerald water is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is unknown. It can only be reached by water - usually by kayak or canoe - so finding this beautiful place takes extra effort.

However, those who do are rewarded with the experience of rowing on sparkling blue-green waters surrounded by canyon walls that rise to an altitude of 1,5 to 2 km.

One of a kind natural phenomenon on the Colorado River. The kayakers begin their journey from Willow Beach and sail just 3 km downstream to reach the hidden cave. It takes about half a day, although adventurers can extend their journey by starting at Hoover Dam instead.

The route is 16 km long and it will become a multi-day adventure. The stark contrast between the sparkling cave waters and the rugged canyon walls is a photographer's dream and worth trying.

RED ROCK PARK

Tall red rocks formed in prehistoric times.

Red Rock Park is a spectacular red rock formation over 200 million years old. This is an amazing miracle of nature. In a state renowned for its dry western beauty, this park truly epitomizes the wilderness and rich history of the Land of Wizardry.

With breathtaking views of washed-out canyons, towering rock formations, rugged plants and wildlife, Red Rock Park is an adventure destination worth your while.

Red Rock Park offers a breathtaking retrospective of the past civilizations of this incredible landscape. Visitors to the park can learn about the history of the area at the museum, which showcases the life and culture of the prehistoric Anasazi as well as modern Zuni, Hopi and Navajo.

Hiking trails such as the Pyramid Rock Trail, Church Rock Trail, and the Red Rock Canyon Loop are ideal for exploring the beauty of the park on foot. Adventure lovers can pitch their tent at one of two comfortable campsites. An incredible landscape that will grab your attention with its ancient harsh beauty, Red Rock Park is a hidden gem.

PRABHUPADA'S PALACE OF GOLD

An unexpected man-made miracle lurks in West Virginia.

The aptly named Palace of Gold is a stunning piece of art tucked away in the Northern Panhandle in West Virginia, in a town called New Vrindaban. The city is a Hare Krishna community founded in 1968 and each year the Palace welcomes tens of thousands of visitors to this city of about 300 inhabitants. It was built in the 1970s as a monument to A.Ch. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, leader of the Hare Krishna movement.

It was called the most beautiful place in the United States, and when it opened, the Kentucky Courier-Journal reported that "it's hard to believe that a palace exists on this planet."

The remarkable building was built of gold, carved teak wood, marble and other rare and valuable materials. Perhaps the most impressive fact that you will learn during your visit is that this entire palace was built by volunteers, many of whom had no experience in building, renovation or any other similar area.

TOCCOA SWINGING BRIDGE

A suspension bridge located high above the Toccoa cascading river.

In the heart of the Chattahoochee Oconee National Forest, nature lovers will find an 82m long bridge that crosses the falling cascades of the Toccoa River. Believed to be the longest swing bridge east of the Mississippi River, visitors from all over the world come to test their courage by stepping over this suspension bridge.

The Toccoa River is a popular destination for hikers, kayakers, fishermen and more. It flows 150 km northwest through the Appalachian Mountains. While there are many places to cross the river, nothing beats this one-of-a-kind walking path.

Hikers will find a bridge that connects the Duncan Ridge National Recreation Trail and the Benton MacKaye Trail. Originally built back in the 1970s by the USDA Forest Service, this bridge is still a coveted hidden gem in Georgia today.

Keep in mind, this swinging bridge sways with every step, but you might not even notice its movement when you see the forested landscape and the beauty of the surrounding mountains.

GREAT SALT PLAINS PARK

A 340-hectare park made up of remnants of salt from the prehistoric ocean.

Located on the Oklahoma-Kansas border, Great Salt Plains State Park is a rare natural beauty that you won't find anywhere else. The barren plains may look unattractive to the naked eye, but this is a one of a kind place just waiting to be explored. In truth, there is nothing better on the entire planet than this state park.

The salt flats date back to prehistoric times when the ocean covered Oklahoma. When the ocean eventually receded, what was left was a vast expanse of salty sand as far as the eye could see. Moreover, one of the main activities, especially for children who visit the park, is the extraction of selenite crystals. These extremely fragile crystals can be mined with a small hand-held shovel.

Be sure to come from April to October to try your hand at mining for crystals, the rest of the time you can enjoy camping, hiking and more. Don't miss these salt flats, home to over 300 bird species and vast natural wonders.

BOK TOWER GARDENS

One of the highest points in Florida and home to the world's finest carillons.

Imagine yourself wandering through the 100-hectare contemplation garden and bird paradise on Lake Wales, Florida on a warm, sunny day. Suddenly the clock shows 13:00. and the ringing of bells resounds across the vastness of the earth. You close your eyes, feeling the sweetness of the nearby orange grove and a hint of wildflowers, and listen to the bells floating in the air. Sounds pretty magical, right?

As one of Florida's highest points, Bok Towers Gardens is a hidden gem that has so much to offer visitors. It houses one of the world's finest bell instruments - the carillon.

Every day at 13:00, guests can listen to a show of 60 bells. and 15:00. Nicknamed the Singing Tower, this hidden gem has been in existence since 1929 and continues to be a place of cultural and spiritual enrichment for all who visit.

Whether you're exploring the history of the garden, buying a drink from a coffee shop, or simply enjoying Florida's natural landscape, this adventure is unmatched.

BIG BEND RANCH STATE PARK

The vast expanses of land, ideal for any outdoor enthusiast.

While the focus is usually on the Big Bend National Park in Texas, there is another lesser-known park that deserves the same attention. Big Bend Ranch State Park is the largest park in the state of Texas, with an area of ​​125000 hectares. But it's not just the vast desert landscape, 118 springs and the state's second and third highest waterfalls that make this place special. It is also the fact that it is located right on the Rio Grande, which offers many other outdoor activities for a truly epic adventure.

Visitors can hike, bike, paddle, swim, fish, or simply ride through the park enjoying all the wildlife right outside the window.

GRAYSON LAKE'S GROTTO FALLS

Hidden Cove Falls, hidden among massive sandstone cliffs.

The perfect way to spend a free weekend in Kentucky is to visit the 600-hectare reservoir known as Grayson Lake. Designed in 1968, this reservoir has become one of the top locations in the state for boating, fishing, camping and many outdoor adventures. But what many visitors may not be aware of is that there is a hidden gem in Grayson Lake that is a secret hideaway for anyone who finds it.

Grotto Falls, also known as Hidden Cove Falls, is a stunning slice of natural wonder that can only be reached by kayak or paddle board. Tucked away among the moss-covered cliffs of the surrounding lake, this secret waterfall is worth seeing in person.

Rowers who move along sandstone cliffs can stumble upon this hidden grotto waterfall, transporting themselves to an otherworldly attraction set in the most surreal landscape. Between the natural beauty of the area and the intoxicating charm of secret grottoes, caves and waterfalls, this Kentucky gem is undoubtedly something special.

For nightlife enthusiasts, Big Bend Ranch State Park has been billed as an International Dark Sky Park with some of the darkest skies in the entire country. Settle up near the tents and spend the evening gazing at the stars without any problems with light interference or other glow from the sky.

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