What We Missed: User's Favorite Natural Wonders

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Earlier this month, we featured some of America's most underrated natural wonders, among them the pristine white sand beaches of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Freeport, Florida and the blockbuster-worthy cliffs of the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas.
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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

Earlier this month, we featured some of America's most underrated natural wonders, among them the pristine white sand beaches of Topsail Hill Preserve State Park in Freeport, Florida and the blockbuster-worthy cliffs of the Palo Duro Canyon State Park in Texas.

At that time we invited you, our readers, to tell us about the amazing, natural gems that we missed-and you did. Here, some of your favorite places in North America, from the first national geological trail in the United States (currently under construction) to a park that looks like the face of the moon to the mesmerizing rock formations of the Carlsbad Caverns of New Mexico.

Read on, for the natural wonders YOU told us shouldn't be missed.

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: Marvmccamy suggested we look into the "Channeled Scablands" of newly created Ice Age Floods National Geological Trail. It's the 600-mile trail that was recently brought into existence-not the landscape, which was carved thousands of years ago by immensely powerful, cataclysmic floods. Congress passed legislation for the trail-currently under construction-this past March. Affectionately known as "the floodies," the network of marked routes will begin in Missoula, Montana and end at the mouth of the Columbia River in Washington and Oregon.

Insider's tip: Perhaps the most stunning point of interest soon-to-be included on the Western trail is Dry Falls, the remnant of what was once the largest waterfall known to have existed on earth. Over three times larger than Niagara Falls, the 380 ft drop (and accompanying view) will take your breath away, even if you don't have a fear of heights!

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: Mae Lund wrote to us to let us know that Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad, New Mexico deserved a place on our list. In her words: "one of the USA's least known and best natural wonder is Carlsbad Caverns in Carlsbad , New Mexico. I visited when I was a kid in the 70's and never forgot the sheer greatness of it." The caverns are one of over 300 limestone caves located in the Chihuahuan desert-the remains of a reef that dates back over 280 years, to a time when this area was covered by water. Come to see the enchanting rock formations and small pools that attract thousands of visitors every year.

Insider tip: Plan a multi-day visit. Mae points that you could spend from "dawn til dusk on the longest day of the year" and still not see everything there is to see."

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: According to Traveljunkie1939, visiting Craters of the Moon National Monument, in Southern Idaho "is like being on a different planet-or maybe on the moon. There are miles and miles of lava formations, lava tubes, and, as a bonus, a little town at the Northern end called Arco-the first place in the U.S. to ever use nuclear energy-with a great museum." Explore the crater-like volcanic features along the scenic 7 Mile Loop Road, then park your wheels and hoof-it through a lava tube cave. You can even spend the night in a lava flow campground if you'd like. No need to worry about any molten distractions or volcanic eruptions. The most recent volcanic activity at this site occurred over 2,000 years ago.

Insider's tip: There are no lodging or food stands within the park. The nearest motels and restaurants are located in Arco, which is 18 miles east of the visitor center. Be sure to pack a lunch, and make lodging reservations in advance if you are planning a multiple day visit.

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: J. Graffious wrote to us to point out that we had missed White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The miles of blinding white gypsum sand hand here make for a stunning contrast against the deep blue sky at this scenic escape in the American south. It's a "pretty spectacular place" J explains, "you can slide down the dunes." Indeed, some visitors even bring sleds and boards for surfing on the sand.

Insider tip: The most scenic area of the monument is the 8-mile long Dunes Drive, but be sure to call ahead before you visit as the road is sometimes closed due to missile testing at the nearby Air Force base.

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: Hank, a Florida native for 41 years, reminded us about pristine Sanibel Island in Florida, where you can find "pure white" sands, water at a "delightful temperature," not to mention opportunities to spot birds, alligators, and even dolphins. He's absolutely right-the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Preserve, which occupies over 50 percent of the island, makes this area a haven for outdoor-lovers. There are also beautiful beaches, and opportunities galore for biking, canoeing and kayaking.

Insider tip: Looking for a souvenir? According to Hank, "low tide is the best time to collect some beautiful shells."

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: LLMEUSE wrote to share with us the "great natural wonder" that is Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick, Canada. Running along the Bay of Fundy, Hopewell Rocks is home to the world's highest tides, which bring forth more than 100-billion tons of water twice a day. During high tide, you can grab a kayak and paddle around beautiful naturally formed sandstone pillars. If keeping your feet on land is more your speed, head over to the multimedia interpretive center where you can learn more about the geology and forces of nature that crafted them. At low tide, once the water has receded, be sure to walk the ocean floor and explore the quiet coves, covered with magnificent rock formations, with nicknames like "Mother-in-Law" and "ET".

Insider's tip: Although Hopewell Rocks is open seasonally from mid-May to mid-October, be sure to visit from mid-July to mid-August, in order to witness the mesmerizing aerial dance performed by migrating Bay of Fundy shorebirds.

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: THEKURFAM recommends Wind Cave in South Dakota for its "cool crystals and rock formations." The caves in question are known for their unique rock configurations called "boxwork," which resembles honeycomb. It's also the fourth longest cave in the world, with over 110 miles of known passages. Above ground, the 28,000-acre park is also worth exploring, with its wild and beautiful combination of mixed-grass prairie and ponderosa pine. Keep your eyes open for elk and prairie dogs.

Insider tip: Want to experience the caves at their most beautiful? Sign up for a candlelight tour of the caverns. Reservations are recommended-call ahead at 605-745-4600.

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: Reelfoot Lake State Park in the northwest region of Tennessee is a must-see and one that LuckyAbJ was happy to highlight for us. In his words the lake, which was formed during several of the numerous earthquakes that took place here between 1811-1812, is "well worth the trip." The body of water stretches across 15,000 acres and is home to almost every shore and wading bird known to man as well as golden and American bald eagles. Various tours, (Bald Eagle and waterfowl tours, scenic boat tours, etc.), are offered throughout the day and there are trails for hiking and scenic roads for cars. More than anything, however, Reelfoot is known as one of the greatest hunting and fishing preserves in the nation.

Insider's Tip: Reelfoot Lake offers year-round fishing, just make sure you have the proper permits. Fishing licenses are required for all anglers over the age of 13, and lake permits are required for those over 16 years of age.

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

The "wow" factor: AllanD9203 asked us to "consider Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore" on our list of natural wonders. Located on the lower peninsula of Michigan, the immense sand dunes are perched atop glacial ridges along Lake Michigan's coastline. From the summit of the Dunes, you'll get a beautiful view of the shore below. Race you to the top!

Insider's tip: With activities such as geology tours, fishing, hiking trails, antique shopping, and even scuba diving, there's a lot more to the area than just a mound of sand. Start your visit in Empire, MI at the Phillip A Hart Visitor Center where you can get a map of nearby attractions.

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What We Missed: Users Favorite Natural Wonders

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