TRAVEL

The 19 Most Beautiful Places In The World Are Hidden In America

10/31/2013 07:17 am ET | Updated Mar 14, 2014

Europe is great and Asia is awesome, but the song says America the beautiful.

These hidden places prove you don't need to spend big bucks and make a transatlantic trek-- the world's most beautiful wonders have been here all along, right in your American backyard.

Grand Prismatic Spring in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming Fur trappers stumbled upon this "boiling lake" less than 200 years ago. 125911926

Kilauea Volcano and Thurston Lava Tube at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Kilauea has been spewing lava without stop since 1983 in what is one of the longest-lived volcanic eruptions of modern times. Below it snakes a complex cave network that was carved from a river of lava 500 years ago. 158412149

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Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth, Maine George Washington himself oversaw construction on this lighthouse, which originally burned lamps made with whale oil. 163130953

Togiak National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska Snuggled on the tip of Alaska, this Arctic Amazon is bursting with caribou, raptors, wolverines, and... wait for it... baby porcupines. 113866851

Salt Lake Temple and Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah Like at other Latter-day Saints temples, you'll need to get baptized and meet with a bishop before you go inside. Once you do, 10 acres of one of Brigham Young's first churches are yours to explore. 179804481

Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, Colorado We think the indigenous Ute tribe is responsible for the cryptic etchings we've found on this park's red rock walls. We've also found carefully-built fire rings from 3,000 years ago. 169594533

Gila Cliff Dwellings in Catron, New Mexico Scholars are fairly certain these intricate caverns were home to American Indian families over 700 years ago. From them, we've unearthed a mummified infant whom researchers call Zeke. 159662244

Palouse Falls in Franklin/Whitman Counties, Washington In 2009, kayaker Tyler Bradt ran his kayak -- on purpose -- down the 180-foot drop. 177172001

Windsor Ruins in Claiborne County, Mississippi A wealthy landowner used slave labor to build this expansive plantation house in the 1800s. He died a few weeks after moving in, and a freak fire later burned down the building. All that remain are 23 crumbling, solitary columns. 106524118

Painted Hills in Wheeler County, Oregon The different-colored bands represent the hills' slow growth over 30 million years. Archeologists have found remains of primitive camels and rhinos here. 160992029

White Sands National Monument in Alamogordo, New Mexico This flat is incredibly rare because it's made of gypsum, which is usually dissolved by rainfall. 170132394

Horseshoe Bend near Page, Arizona Grand Canyon looky-loos forget to seek out this funky-shaped bend in the Colorado River, which is "nearby" in Arizona terms. 163519238

Castle Rock in Gove County, Kansas Eons ago, an ancient sea covered the Midwest. This chalk deposit 11 miles off the freeway is our souvenir. 169480219

Mount Hood National Forest, Oregon Home of the real Oregon Trail. 144619426

Skagit Valley tulip fields in Mount Vernon, Washington You don't have to schlep to Amsterdam for fields that burst into bloom-- there's more serenity and space at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, which locals celebrate each April. 178698522

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park, California You've always thought "Star Wars" was filmed in a galaxy far, far away. It wasn't. 134237864

Gillette Castle State Park in East Haddam, Connecticut This estate belonged to actor William Gillette, famous for portraying Sherlock Holmes onstage in the 1900s. Gillette named his cobblestoned castle Seventh Sister and installed a series of hidden mirrors to monitor guests at all times. 113866851

Canyon de Chelly National Monument in Apache County, Arizona According to Navajo tradition, Spider Rock's second spire is home to Spider Woman, the creator of the free world. 124617284

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