25 EPIC Places You’ve Likely Never Heard of

I love visiting hidden gems and then using my photography to show off these otherworldly places. I hope it inspires you to travel but also to join the environmental movement to help protect these amazing destinations.

Big Pine Lakes, CA

Backpacking Big Pine Lakes California
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Nestled in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Big Pine Lakes offers breathtaking alpine scenery and pristine waters for hiking and camping enthusiasts.

Buckskin Gulch, UT

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Buckskin Gulch is a remarkable slot canyon in southern Utah, famous for its narrow, winding passages and surreal rock formations.

High Rock Lookout

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

The views are stunning, just outside the southern entrance to Mt. Rainer National Park. A short but steep hike brings you to a majestic view.

Cooper Landing, AK

Slaughter Ridge Trail Cooper Landing Alaska
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Located on the Kenai Peninsula, Cooper Landing is a picturesque Alaskan town known for its outstanding fishing and stunning wilderness surroundings.

Summit Lake, WA

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Summit Lake is a serene mountain lake in Washington state, offering a peaceful escape for hiking, camping, and relaxation.

Diamond Hill, Ireland

Connemara national park hiking in ireland
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Diamond Hill in Connemara National Park, Ireland, provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, including mountains and the Atlantic Ocean.

Moonscape Overlook, UT

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Moonscape Overlook in Southern Utah is aptly named, featuring a surreal desert landscape that resembles an extraterrestrial terrain.

Root Glacier, AK

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Root Glacier in Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, Alaska, offers visitors a chance to explore a dynamic ice field and its fascinating features.

Cascade Head, OR

cascade head places to photograph in lincoln city
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Cascade Head, near Lincoln City in Oregon, is a scenic coastal headland known for its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and diverse wildlife.

Picture Lake, WA

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Picture Lake in Washington’s North Cascades is famous for its stunning reflection of Mount Shuksan, making it a photographer’s dream. You can find this right off the road near Artist Point.

Eagle Peak, CA

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Eagle Peak in California’s Sierra Nevada is a challenging hike that rewards climbers with awe-inspiring vistas of the surrounding wilderness.

Katla Ice Cave, Iceland

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Katla Ice Cave is a mesmerizing natural wonder in Iceland, known for its intricate ice formations and stunning blue hues.

Nakalele Blowhole, HI

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Nakalele Blowhole on the Hawaiian island of Maui is a captivating geological feature where seawater shoots up through a natural lava tube.

Beaver Falls, AZ

The stunning Beaver Falls in Havasupai.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Beaver Falls is a series of enchanting waterfalls located in the Havasuapi area of the Grand Canyon, accessible via a multi-day scenic hike.

Vesper Peak, WA

vesper peak hike
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Vesper Peak in Washington’s Cascade Range offers hikers challenging trails and panoramic vistas of the surrounding peaks and forests.

Cathedral Gorge State Park, NV

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada boasts striking slot canyons and unique rock formations, creating a surreal desert landscape.

Columbine Lake, CO

Columbine Lake Silverton Colorado
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Columbine Lake is a pristine alpine lake in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, surrounded by wildflowers and offering great hiking opportunities.

Shi Shi Beach, WA

Shi Shi Beach sea stacks and rocks on the coastline.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Shi Shi Beach in Washington’s Olympic National Park is a remote coastal gem known for its rugged beauty, tide pools, and sea stacks.

Big Thicket National Preserve, TX

kirby nature trail big thicket
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Big Thicket National Preserve in Texas is a biodiversity hotspot with a diverse range of ecosystems, including swamps, forests, and wetlands.

Castle Crags State Park, CA

castle crags places to see in northern california
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Castle Crags State Park in California is known for its dramatic granite spires and offers excellent hiking and rock climbing opportunities.

Jewel Basin, MT

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Jewel Basin in Montana is a hiker’s paradise, offering a network of trails through lush forests and pristine lakes near Kalispell, MT.

Spray Falls, WA

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Spray Falls is a stunning waterfall in Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park, cascading down a cliff in a spectacular display of nature’s power.

Iceberg Lake, MT

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Iceberg Lake in Montana’s Glacier National Park is famous for its crystal-clear waters and the occasional icebergs that float in the lake.

McArthur-Burney Falls, CA

burney falls places to see in northern california
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

McArthur-Burney Falls in California’s McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is a spectacular waterfall with a constant flow of water, even in the summer months.

Yellow Aster Butte, WA

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Yellow Aster Butte is a popular hiking destination in Washington state, known for its vibrant alpine wildflowers, panoramic views of the surrounding North Cascades, and unique geological features, making it a must-visit spot for outdoor enthusiasts and photographers alike.

Planning a Trip to Death Valley

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Learn how here.

A Guide to Great Basin National Park

Stella Lake at sunset below Wheeler Peak.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Park information here.

Trekking through the Enchantments

Above Leprechaun Lake. Near the end of the Core Zone while doing the Enchantments Thru hike.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Learn how to hike the 20-mile trail

Trail of Ten Falls

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

My guide

Visit the Largest Tree on Earth

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Hiking Guide

Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside