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USA: 5 Spectacular Sights
I recently read an article that featured some impressive locations in the United States of America, showing spectacular landscapes, which look more like outer space than earth, they put me in the mind of Mars or Jupiter, they definitely put me more in the mind of archaic territories and terrains than the ever powerful USA featured in most movies.
That's the thing, many folks know the US of A through the movies. Venice Beach and other uncountable locations in Los Angeles, New York and its skyscrapers, Chicago's River, New Orleans' French Quarter and its glorious Bourbon Street, San Francisco and its up and down hills and valleys, the Grand Canyon...
Here's a news flash for movie goers: The USA is a lot more than a few movie sights, and a few is all that movies can manage, because the United States of America is a whole sight bigger than fits in a movie, or twenty. Ding Dong!
Of course, there are a few off Hollywood movies (that's like off Broadway, folks!) that show other, maybe not so glamorous, but still fundamentally iconic places of the country.
North by North East comes to mind, with its hyper famous Mount Rushmore scene, or The Bridges of Madison County, which is a real tourist trap for the locals if not for the foreigners –deservedly so, I hear, since Iowa and its Madison Country bridges are really beautiful; or the uncountable movies shot in the Mojave Desert's Death Valley, a well deserved national monument all on its own, where the wind blows so hard it displaces rocks the size of Hummers.
The 5 locations I feature here are totally different from the usual movie fare, a completely different USA. I've visited half these places, and I vouch for them as truly spectacular.
Mono Lake, California
Been! This is a semi volcanic lake, with super saline and alkaline waters which prompt the formation of salt rocks that pop up on the lake, as can be seen in the image. The lake's geologic and biologic history are so rich that you'd have to click on the link to read about it all. It's just an out of this world sight, more alike to the surface of Pluto than an earthy lake on the USA.
The Wave, Arizona/Utah Border
Never been! I may have misjudged all that Arizona had to offer... ahem! This is a rock formation shaped by the wind and by thousands of years of simply being on this planet, and no kidding there: According to the websites that speak of it, these were originally sand dunes that solidified by effect of the wind and other natural elements, such as rain and cold and... It dates back to the Jurassic era, and a permit is required to visit it. Does it look like Mars or what?
White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Been! Impressive is all I can say. The desert-like dunes are so white and so brilliant that you really need strong shades to look around you. Truth of the matter, these are no sand dunes, but gypsum crystal mountains. Visit is much recommended, but try and avoid summer months, as the temperature may go up to 120 ºF (50 ºC). Ironically, even though the area is hotter than a suave day in hell, this place is often compared to a snowy tundra, so white is its pure, uninterrupted surface.
Now this definitely looks like the Moon, maybe the Sea of Tranquility.
Zabriskie Point, California
Never been! This sits in the Death Valley National Monument, a spectacular esplanade with undulating sand hills. According to the geology references, these fascinating and aesthetic formations where born off a lake that existed in the area. Now fancy what? This does feature in a movie of the same name, by Michelangelo Antonioni.
Mars again? Jupiter, maybe?
Painted Desert, Arizona
Been! This is definitely a Mars lookalike, so red, so obviously uninhabited! Which isn't true, because this is smack in the middle of Navajo Nation, and it it's been quite inhabited indeed for about 1000 years.
This landscape was modeled over eons by rain and erosion, but the colors which give the place its name are due to the multiple minerals found in the area, primarily iron and manganese compounds, which manage to give off the impression of having been varnished by human hand.
Fall Foliage, New England
This is a bonus track, and it doesn't look like outer space at all, it just looks like Earth is an incredibly pretty place!
One can peek at this comprehensive list of fall foliage sites in the USA, including the best times to visit each, to realize that the foliage show is not a limited nature event in USA.
They do say that the Maine and Vermont foliage are the most spectacular and abundant, but it's probably a matter of taste. Aspen is listed #1 by the Weather Channel in the top 10 foliage sites in North America.