Five out of five
in the USA
Live like a local as you explore everything
these five US states have to offer
Whether it’s the awe-inspiring magnitude of Hawaii’s volcanoes, the beautifully rugged coastlines of Oregon, the extreme burning desert landscapes of Nevada’s Death Valley, the extraordinary dinosaur trails of Utah or the wild rivers and canyons of Colorado, America has it all.
Here we outline five top experiences across five states, from national parks and state monuments to local cuisines and character-filled towns.
The Hawaiian Islands
This tropical paradise, made up of six main islands that travellers can visit, is steeped in culture, bewildering geography and tempting cuisine.
Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, on Island of Hawai’i
Home to Mauna Loa, the world’s most extensive active volcano and Kilauea, which erupted continuously between 1983 and 2018, this area blends rainforests, deserts, high mountain passes and surreal displays of nature’s wrath. Experience it firsthand on the Crater Rim Drive or a stay at Volcano House overlooking Halema'uma'u Crater.
Halawa Valley on Moloka'i
Get back to nature at this historic Hawaiian valley famed for towering waterfalls, lush countryside and hidden bathing oases. Enjoy a guided hike with a local expert to the double tiered 76-metre Mooula Falls, practice yoga, indulge in forest bathing or discover ancient worship sites dating back to 650AD.
A traditional feast where classic Hawaiian fare such as Kalua Pig, Poke, sweet potato or poi are served along with live music, dancing and drinks. In ancient Hawaii this cultural tradition was called 'aha'aina'. Aha meaning gathering, aina meaning meal.
Mountain tubing on Kaua’i
Cruise through the lush tropical surrounds of Kaua’i on a guided tour through a canal system from 1893. Begin with a 4WD excursion through the island’s interior before being whisked away by the water through a series of tunnels, cruising past craters, mountains and jungle canopy.
The Hawaiian Islands
Beyond the hip city of Portland, you’ll discover untamed forest and coastline and quirky characters in historical towns.
National Historic Oregon Trail Interpretive Center
Themes of migration and early pioneering are brought to life through film, multimedia exhibits and more than six kilometres of interpretative trails at this unique centre in Baker County. Highlights include remnants of a Flagstaff gold mine and views of historic trail routes.
Newberry National Volcanic Monument
More than 180 kilometres of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, waterfalls, forests, cave systems and a volcano. Stand on the summit of 150-metre Lava Butte, the longest continuous lava tube in Oregon inside Lava River Cave and admire the double cascades of Paulina Falls.
For a fascinating delve into the history of early pioneers, explore the Homestead Village Museum which includes a beautifully preserved collection of cabins, a doctor’s office, a church and more.
Sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the Oregon Coast Range, this rugged coastal town offers surfing, fresh seafood, blustery coastal walks, craft beer, touring a historic lighthouse, boat rides and perhaps even a romantic beach picnic.
Beyond the lights of Las Vegas lay adventurous road trips through the wonder of the High Sierra Desert.
Free-range art on Highway 95
Spanning 765 kilometres, this stretch of highway linking Las Vegas to Reno is packed full of quirky art sights. Check out the International Car Forest of the Last Church (an open-air art curation), a host of Burning Man sculptures, an open-air museum in a ghost town and more.
Formed over millions of years by volcanic activity, the Black Canyon Water Trail is an adventure paradise. Located in the Lake Mead Recreational Area, popular rafting tours begin near the base of the Hoover Dam taking in hot springs, waterfalls, towering cliff walls and perhaps even the odd Bighorn Sheep.
Valley of fire
Valley of Fire State Park
Just 80 kilometres north of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park is an astonishing 35,000-acre sprawl of shimmering crimson sandstone rocks. Swim at Roger Springs, enjoy myriad hiking trails, rock climbing or simply photographing bizarre monolith formations such as Elephant Rock, The Beehives or Mouse’s Tank.
Death Valley National Park
Located below sea level, east of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this magnificent region is characterised by undulating sand dunes, copper coloured rocks and jagged mountain ridges. Explore ghost towns, ancient relics, wildlife and striking landscapes named pioneering hardships.
Road trip to Great Basin National Park and Lake Tahoe
The uncrowded, high-altitude desert of Great Basin National Park is the perfect summer road trip. Hike lake trails, explore the ornate Lehman Cave systems and enjoy starry night skies in the Lower 48. Continue east around Huboldt-Toiyabe National Forest to Lake Tahoe.
Featuring wildly diverse terrain, this nature playground is worth exploring in every season.
Watch zoo animals, hike trails, dig for dinosaur bones, ride trains and enjoy art at this wonderful cultural centre that’s one of Salt Lake City’s premier family attractions. The district includes nine entertainment venues open year-round.
Forty-five minutes south of Salt Lake City, the cultural centre features a 4,180 square metre museum containing 400 interactive exhibits, a 55-acre garden park complete with butterfly garden, man-made waterfall, a museum dedicated to ancient life and much more.
Zion National Park & Mojave Desert road trip
Explore the ochre sandstone cliffs and behold the majesty of Zion Canyon with its Navajo rock carved out by the Virgin River. For the ultimate road trip, head south to the Mojave Desert spanning four states and home to the world’s highest concentration of Joshua trees.
Dinosaur National Monument
Discover 150-million-year-old fossil beds in a landscape where mountains, raging river canyons and desert collide. The Fremont Indians lived in these canyons 800-1200 years ago and now you can explore the likes of Quarry Exhibit Hall where 1500 dinosaur fossils are exposed on a cliff face.
With cooler temperatures and landscapes at their most winsome, winter is the best time to hike ‘The Beehive State’. Some of the top picks include Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, Delicate Arch in Arches National Park, Petrified Dune Trail at Snow Canyon State Park and Weeping Rock at Zion National Park.
This incredibly beautiful state delivers diverse scenery, exceptional adventure and historical sites year-round.
Chimney Rock National Monument
Situated at the southern edge of the San Juan Mountains, the 4700-acre National Monument is a sacred site for many modern-day tribes derived from the Ancestral Puebloans who inhabited the region 1000 years ago. Beyond the history you can mountain bike, bathe in hot springs, hot air balloon, raft and more.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Typified by steep, plunging cliffs carved by the Gunnison River, this is the perfect territory to tackle challenging hiking trails and wild river waters by raft or kayak. Enjoy trout fishing, rock climbing, scenic drives and wildlife viewing, plus astrophotography opportunities at this International Dark Sky Park.
Yucca House National Monument
There are no signs or park rangers here, simply wander the 100 or so kivas (small buildings) to get a sense of the ancient Ancestral Pueblo archeology and culture that once thrived here. Despite being declared a national monument in 1919, the site remains largely untouched over the past 800 years.
Great Sand Dunes
Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve
Set against the backdrop of the Sangre de Cristo mountains, this 50- square kilometre dune field is truly one of nature’s greatest playgrounds. Hike to Star Dune, the tallest in North America, or try sand boarding and sledding.
This treasured national park and UNESCO Heritage Site in southwestern Colorado protects over 5,000 archeological sites relating to the Ancestral Pueblo people. Over 600 of these buildings are cliff dwellings that can be experienced from overlooks, trails and guided tours.