12 of Your Favorite Places in Our Public Lands

There are so many reasons to get out in the wild. To see mountains, explore canyons, or follow a river as it winds beneath a canopy of trees.
And no matter how many adventures you’ve taken, there are always a handful of spots that seem extra special. Whether it was a jaw-dropping view or a small clearing along the trail, sometimes you form a deep connection with a particular place.
We recently asked you on Instagram to share your favorite places in our public lands — and you all delivered! Here are 12 of your favorite places in our public lands:
  1. Angels Landing, Zion National Park

    Angels Landing is a classic hike in the US - and for good reason! This five-mile round-trip hike from the Grotto Trailhead leads to steep switchbacks and staggering drop-offs. Hikers follow a small trail and hold tight to bolted chains on the exposed cliff wall to keep their balance. This isn’t a hike for people who are afraid of heights! But if you are, you can stop the hike at Scout Lookout and enjoy the view without hiking to the summit of Angels Landing. The 360-degree view from the top is a perfect spot to enjoy a snack and relax (as long as you can keep the chipmunks away from your food!).

    Summit of Angels Landing

  2. Grinnell Glacier, Glacier National Park

    Grinnell Glacier is at the heart of Glacier - and that means some of the best mountain views on the continent. A great way to visit the glacier is to hike to Grinnell Glacier Overlook on the Grinnell Glacier Trail, a 7.6-mile round-trip hike with phenomenal views of the 152-acre glacier, Upper Grinnell Lake, Mount Gould, and the Garden Wall. You’ll want to stare at the bright glacial water and staggering mountain peaks for days!

    Endless Views at Grinnell Glacier

  3. Shiprock, Navajo Nation

    Shiprock is a 1,600-foot tall mountain that towers above the desert plain on Navajo Nation Land in New Mexico. It was formed from the remains of the neck of a volcano that formed several thousand feet underground millions of years ago. Shiprock is called Tsé Bitʼaʼí in Navajo - which means "winged rock” and is considered a sacred mountain that is featured extensively in their mythology. It is illegal to climb the formation.

    Shiprock - the Core of An Eroded Volcano
    Photo: Cathy // CC BY-NC 2.0

  4. Artist Point, Yellowstone National Park

    This is one of Yellowstone’s most famous views: a grand overlook on the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River with the 308-foot Lower Falls front and center a mile away. The canyon itself is over 1,000 feet deep and is colored in oranges, reds, tans, and pinks. No permit is needed for this overlook; it’s only a 0.2-mile round trip with 50 feet of elevation change.

    Canyon View of Lower Falls at Artist's Point

  5. Devil’s Marbleyard, Virginia

    Devil’s Marbleyard is a hillside of huge boulders as large as trucks near the Gunter Ridge Trail near the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Visitors can take the 3-mile hike on the Belfast Trail in the James River Face Wilderness. You can also opt to make the hike a bit longer to get a beautiful, 360-degrees view of Virginia’s tree-covered mountains. 

    Boulder Field at Devil's Marbleyard

  6. Maroon Bells, Aspen, Colorado

    The most photographed mountains in all of Colorado! These 14,000-foot mountains outside Aspen are popular for a good reason — especially in the fall as the aspens’ leaves turn color. There are a handful of beautiful hikes in the area: Maroon Lake Scenic Trail, Maroon Creek Trail, and Crater Lake Trail. Dogs are allowed on the trail, but they must be leashed.

    The Maroon Bells in Fall

  7. Cadillac Mountain, Acadia National Park

    The best place to be the first to see the sunrise in the US! This 1,530-foot tall mountain is the highest on the North Atlantic seaboard, mountains rounded and sloping from bulldozing glaciers. Enjoy Acadia’s incredible view of the Atlantic alongside spruce, pine, and wild blueberries. It’ll be a sunrise to remember!

    A Sunrise in Acadia

  8. Taft Point, Yosemite National Park

    This is another hike that isn’t for folks that are afraid of heights! This 2.2-mile round trip hike has dramatic views of Yosemite Valley, especially El Cap and Yosemite Falls. You’ll have to drive Glacier Point Road to get here — which is usually open between June through October. If you want a memorable view of Yosemite, this is the place to go — just be conscious of the edge.

    Endless Views of Yosemite Valley at Taft Point

  9. The Wave, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

    Arizona’s famous red sandstone formation along the Utah/Arizona border is a photographer’s dream, but it can be difficult to get a permit to hike. Most people make the 5.2-mile hike from the Wire Pass Trailhead, and it does require some navigation skills. You can get a permit using the advanced online lottery (if you can plan in advance) or you can show up in-person at the Visitors Center in Kanab, Utah — both lotteries only hand out 10 permits per day for a grand total of 20 daily visitors.

    The Wave - Vermilion Cliffs National Monument

  10. Cape Royal, Grand Canyon National Park

    One of the best views of the Grand Canyon from the North Rim! Cape Royal is the southernmost point on the North Rim at the Walhalla Plateau, a 15-mile drive from the North Rim visitor center. This particular overlook has a great view of a flat-topped mesa named Wotans Throne, which is phenomenal during the golden hour. 

    Misty Views of Cape Royal, Grand CanyonPhoto: Steven dosRemedios // CC BY-NC 2.0

  11. Anthony’s Nose, New York

    This is a short, steep climb of the Appalachian Trail that feels like you’re climbing a giant staircase. A 2.6-mile, up-and-back hike will provide beautiful views of the Hudson River and green trees as far as you can see.

    Cliffs Over the Hudson River - Anthony's Nose

  12. Havasupai Falls, Havasupai Indian Reservation

    A true desert oasis near the Grand Canyon, Havasupai attracts thousands of visitors to se, blue-green waterfalls cascading over orange desert rock. The five Havasupai Falls feed lush vegetation in the canyon, and visitors can take in the beauty of Navajo Falls, Fifty Foot Falls, Havasu Falls, Mooney Falls, and Beaver Falls. No day hiking is allowed here — so all hikers and campers are required to make a reservation to visit the falls. If you’re lucky enough to hike here, please be sure to take along a trash bag and help pack out the trash that past hikers have left — together, we can keep our wild places wild!

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