Taking the family out west is a U.S. tradition for many families. The West has all kinds of scenery including mountains, plains, lakes, and the coast. Most travelers are aware of the National Parks in the west, but there are other little-known attractions worth visiting as well. The colorful landscapes of the west will have the whole family in awe.
Moaning Cave, California
Take a tour deep into the largest single-cave chamber in California. Moaning Cave gets its name from the echoes it makes. There are different tour options available, but the most unique is definitely the spiral tour. Descend 100 feet on a spiral staircase to the bottom. Moaning Caverns Adventure Park website boasts “with a 20 to 30-foot thick ceiling, the open area inside the chamber is, in fact, tall enough to hold the Statue of Liberty (pedestal excluded)!” If that isn’t convincing enough, there is also a rich history of Gold Miners to be learned about at the cavern. Adults will enjoy the history and kids will enjoy exploring and panning for gems in the park.
Valley of Fire, Nevada
Looking for an attraction out of this world? Look no further than the Valley of Fire State Park located just 60 miles from Las Vegas in Nevada. Star Trek Generations sought this martian-like landscape for the 1994 film. Vibrant oranges and reds paint the rocks for an incredible view. Of course, the name is not just for the views. The park gets hot and despite it being dry heat, you’ll still want more water than you think.
Bisti Badlands, New Mexico
Everyone has heard of the Badlands in South Dakota, but not many have seen the Bisti Badlands in New Mexico. This Wilderness Area contains some of the most unique scenery in the southwest region. For geology lovers, the Bureau of Land Management states, “time and natural elements have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations made of interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal, and silt.” These formations are known as hoodoos and can be seen for miles in the area. If you plan to visit, be sure to bring plenty of water as there are no water sources in the Wilderness Area.
Bodega Bay, California
If you want to get away from the Malibu and Big Sur crowds, Bodega Bay is the secluded beach you’re looking for. At Bodega Head, you can whale-watch, hike, and walk in the sand. You may also find some seals at the aptly named Seal Rock in the bay. Considering the wildlife and scenery, it is a wonder this place is not more popular.
Smith Rock, Oregon
This rock is not unheard of in the rock-climbing world, but it offers more than just a good climb. View the sunrise against the rock, which Upon Arriving states, “[resembles] a castle towering over a surrounding moat.” In addition to the views, Smith Rock State Parks offers miles of mountain biking and hiking trails. What’s more, since this is a state park, dogs are allowed on a leash so even your furry friend can explore the park with you.
From the deep caves to the colorful rock formations, the west is picturesque. Plan a visit to the little-known spots before they become popular.
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