Ever wondered what the Grand Canyon looks like from a small distance away? The Tetons from the less-visited western side? Canyonlands from the other side of the canyon? The Statue of Liberty from New York Harbor? So many famous places in the United States can be seen – and enjoyed – from more than just the most famous viewpoints. Sometimes, there’s a reason for the popularity of the better-known areas, but often the views are just as good (or even better!) from these lesser visited viewpoints.
So in this post, I thought I’d share some of my favorite alternate views of famous places in the wilderness areas of the US!
Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoint. Ok, so enough people hike this short, easy trail that it’s not exactly missing out on the crowds. But the views are different enough from standing under the arch that it’s well worth experiencing. 1.5 miles RT.
Tonto Trail. The Tonto Trail traverses the boundary between Grand Canyon’s inner and outer canyons, offering long-distance hikers a unique and intimate view of the canyon. I’ve done two sections; one between the South Kaibab Trail and Bright Angel Trail and the other around Horseshoe Mesa. Both were beautiful! Mileage will vary.
Lookout Mountain. Most people in the Pacific Northwest are likely familiar with Mt. Hood’s profile as seen from Portland. But by traveling to its other side and hiking up Lookout Mountain, the peak takes on new character. 3 miles RT.
Oak Springs Trail. The Oak Springs Trail in Big Bend National Park takes you to the same viewpoint in “the Window” as much more popular Window Trail, but I find the views along the way – including of the Window itself – much more enjoyable and the trail not as difficult. 5.5 miles RT.
Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island Ferry & Liberty Park. Nearly everyone is familiar with the view of the Statue of Liberty from the ferry to Liberty Island. But only those who take the Staten Island Ferry or frequent New York Harbor are familiar with the (excellent) view of the statue from further away on the open water. And since the Staten Island Ferry is free, well, it’s well worth taking! Walking only required to get to/on/off the ferry.
Grand Canyon Fire Tower. The unique thing about the Grandview Fire Tower is that you can see what the Grand Canyon looks like from a distance. I won’t say that the views are better than at the canyon’s rim, but it’s interesting how a canyon can just appear out of nowhere. Less than 0.5 miles RT.
Canyonlands Overlook. This is probably the most difficult view to get to in this post, requiring several miles of rugged dirt roads unsuitable for anything but high clearance and 4×4 (or maybe some street-legal ORV’s). However, the view at the end is breathtaking. You know the famous views from Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park? Well, that’s exactly what you see from this overlook – only you’re on the other side of the canyon! How cool is that? No hiking necessary unless you opt to walk part or all of the road.
Table Mountain. Those who choose to stay on the eastern, National Park side of the Teton range and Grand Teton National Park miss out on some incredible views of the mountains. The best hike to these views is the Table Mountain Trail (although I personally recommend the Face Trail over the Huckleberry Trail) to see the west side of Grand Teton in all its rugged splendor. And if seeing the mountains from the other side wasn’t enough, the nearby views in themselves are enough to take your breath away! 9 to 11 miles RT.
Horseshoe Mesa. Looking for a new-and-different view of the Grand Canyon? I can highly recommend the nearly deserted trail to the end of Horseshoe Mesa. The views here are quite different from the corridor trails like the South Kaibab and Bright Angel, but they’re still jaw-dropping of the canyon. 10 miles RT.
Spray Park. Relatively few people check out the northwest area of Mt. Rainier National Park, but those who do and who take a hike aren’t disappointed. Spray Park showcases Mt. Rainier as well as wildflowers (and wildlife!) of all kinds. 9.5 miles RT.
Artist Point via Tunnel View or Artist Point via the Old Carriage Road. Artist Point in Yosemite National Park is one of my favorite views of Yosemite Valley (in part because it is good any time of year, whether or not the falls have water), but it’s not very well known. The lower Tunnel View steals the attention, leaving those who enjoy browsing anonymous websites about their hiking destinations to appreciate Artist Point’s unique views. 2 miles RT.
Reynolds Mountain. If there’s snow on the peaks in Glacier National Park, there’s few easily accessible views nicer than the overlook over Hidden Lake. However, for even better views over the lake, follow the unmarked-but-quite-official Reynolds Mountain Trail over toward Dragonback. Simply breathtaking! About 7 miles RT.
Do you have a favorite alternate view of a famous place?
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