The U.S. is a massive country with impressive scenery in all 50 states. You’ll find breathtaking vistas around every turn, from rugged coastlines and sweeping forests to verdant lakes and imposing mountain ranges.
In between those mountains are some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country – valleys. These lush, low lands sit between America’s hills and are criminally underrated – and these stunning expanses deserve a spot on every traveler’s bucket list.
Due to the sheer number of mountain ranges in America, there are tons of valleys to explore. Read on to discover the top 30 most beautiful valleys in the USA.
Table of Contents
- 1. Yosemite Valley, California
- 2. Waipio Valley, Hawaii
- 3. Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
- 4. Napa Valley, California
- 5. Monument Valley, Arizona
- 6. Kalalau Valley, Hawaii
- 7. Death Valley, California
- 8. Maroon Bells, Colorado
- 9. Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Alaska
- 10. Valley of Fire, Nevada
- 11. Cades Cove, Tennessee
- 12. The Palouse, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon
- 13. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
- 14. Antelope Valley, California
- 15. Logan Pass, Montana
- 16. Halawa Valley, Hawaii
- 17. Santa Ynez Valley, California
- 18. Squaw Valley, California
- 19. Skagit Valley, Washington
- 20. The Berkshires, Massachusetts
- 21. Sonoma Valley, California
- 22. Willamette Valley, Oregon
- 23. Hudson Valley, New York
- 24. Verde Valley, Arizona
- 25. Methow Valley, Washington
- 27. Coachella Valley, California
- 27. Paradise Valley, Washington
- 28. Livermore Valley, California
- 29. Santa Clara Valley, California
- 30. Sequim-Dungeness Valley, Washington
1. Yosemite Valley, California
One of the most beautiful valleys in the USA can be found in one of the most popular national parks. Yosemite Valley measures a mile deep and is surrounded by massive rock faces, alpine forests, and cascading waterfalls.
The valley was created as a result of glacial erosion over millions of years, and Yosemite National Park has been a protected area since 1864. There are over 60 miles of trails that you can hike, bike, or even mule ride across, but the best vista of this stunning area will come from the Tunnel View – a scenic viewpoint located just off of State Route 41.
It’s also teeming with wildlife – so keep your eyes peeled for mule deer, Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, and hundreds of different bird species as you walk through the area.
2. Waipio Valley, Hawaii
Known as the “Valley of the Kings”, Waipio Valley is certainly fit for royalty, surrounded by steep cliffs, beautiful ocean views, and cascading waterfalls.
This stunning area is located on Hawaii’s Big Island, and was once home to Polynesian royalty. Today, it’s a remote destination that’ll make you never want to leave the incredible views.
To reach the valley, you’ll need to have guts of steel and a vehicle with 4-wheel drive – capable of maneuvering the precarious mountain roads. Of course, you could always take the easy way out and simply drive to the Waipio Valley lookout point on the outskirts of Honokaa (but where’s the fun in that?).
Those who do make their way into the valley will be rewarded with some seriously spectacular hiking trails, specifically the Muliwai Trail, and surfers will have access to some great waves without any crowds.
3. Shenandoah Valley, Virginia
Sandwiched between the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Allegheny Range to the west, the Shenandoah Valley is one of the most beautiful in America.
The valley is located mostly in the state of Virginia, though some of the region runs into neighboring West Virginia. Besides being incredibly beautiful, this valley has also played an important part in American history as one of the first frontiers, and later a crucial outpost during the Civil War.
One of the best ways to enjoy the valley is by visiting Shenandoah National Park, which is filled with cascading waterfalls, carpets of colorful wildflowers, and miles of trails that lead to incredible vistas.
The valley is also home to two of the most scenic drives in the country: the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway. No commercial trucks are allowed on these byways, so you can enjoy a peaceful trip while you soak in the views.
You could also choose to take one of the lesser-known back roads through the valley and stop off at some local wineries and charming small towns.
4. Napa Valley, California
Napa Valley is perhaps the most famous valley in the United States, and is also one of the most beautiful. Located in the heart of California’s wine country, the rolling hills of the region are covered with vineyards, charming chateaus, and a bounty of bed and breakfasts and boutique hotels.
You’ll find over 400 wineries in the valley, along with spas, Michelin star restaurants, and even a vintage wine train that’ll take you on a historic tour of the area – with plenty of vineyard stops along the way.
The combination of scenic landscapes and fun activities makes this a popular vacation spot for nearby residents of the Bay Area, but people from all around the world come to experience the beauty that is Napa Valley.
There’s no bad time to visit, but the end of the harvest season (September and October) is truly magical thanks to the beautiful fall foliage, spectacular weather, and host of fun activities. A visit in the spring will have fewer crowds and cheaper accommodations, and you’ll also be able to see the verdant hillsides in full bloom.
5. Monument Valley, Arizona
Situated on the Arizona-Utah border, Monument Valley boasts a landscape that is as unique as it is beautiful.
Massive red sandstone buttes and mesas jut up from the desert floor, and these iconic monuments are the result of over 500 million years of erosion. The formations are truly stunning, and the tallest towers measure up to 1,000 feet!
The best way to take in this wild west landscape is via the 17-mile Valley Drive that leads you into the center of the valley.
You’ll find plenty of spots to stop off for a photo-op, but the best lookout point is without a doubt John Ford Point. You’ll also find some vendors and souvenir shops near the vista, and likely a large swath of tourists.
Some other noteworthy formations include:
- The Moccasin Arch
- Artist’s Point
- The Thumb
6. Kalalau Valley, Hawaii
Kauai is often considered to be one of Hawaii’s most beautiful islands. Kauai’s Na Pali Coast is famous around the world as one of the most beautiful coastlines on earth – and along that coast, you’ll find the Kalalau Valley, a verdant and rugged stretch of land that is just as striking, but virtually unknown.
This may have something to do with the fact that it’s extremely hard to get to; even a vehicle with 4-wheel drive will only get you so far. The valley is located inside Na Pali Coast State Park, and the only way to enter is by hiking through the inhospitable terrain.
The valley is worth the hike, however, and those who take on the intimidating journey will be rewarded with secluded beaches and some of the most spectacular views on the planet.
The 11-mile Kalalau Trail will lead you through the most scenic stretches of the valley, but hikers should be warned that this is an extremely difficult and dangerous path that should only be attempted by those with plenty of experience.
Although there’s no easy-to-reach lookout point like the one at Waipio Valley, those who aren’t prepared to take on the extreme hike can take a boat or helicopter tour of this stunning area.
7. Death Valley, California
Another famous valley that is 100% worth the hype is Death Valley. This beautiful stretch of desert is made up of a unique topography that has been millions of years in the making.
It actually sits below sea level, but this doesn’t stop it from being one of the hottest places on earth. The valley still somehow manages to maintain a swath of plants and wildlife, despite the intimidating name and hot temperatures.
Zabriskie Point is perhaps the most scenic spot in the valley, filled with colorful rock formations that were created from a combination of erosion and sediment from the prehistoric lakes that once dotted the area.
As mentioned above, this place gets extremely hot – so we recommend catching one of the famous sunsets or visiting during the spring or fall when the mercury is (slightly) lower.
8. Maroon Bells, Colorado
One of the most beautiful (and most photographed) valleys in the USA is located between the Maroon Bells, two breathtaking peaks in the Rocky Mountain Range.
Located inside of the White River National Forest in west-central Colorado, the valley is full of colorful wildflowers, aspen trees, and a crystal clear lake that perfectly reflects the Maroon Bells.
The photos you take of this lush area will never live up to what you see with your own two eyes – so plan on spending ample time here just soaking up the scenery.
The forest also boasts thousands of miles of scenic hiking trails, legendary fishing opportunities, and dozens of beautiful campgrounds for both tents and RVs.
If you’re in the area during winter months, don’t miss out on some of Colorado’s most famed ski resorts on the outskirts of the forest.
9. Matanuska-Susitna Valley, Alaska
Named after the two rivers that cross through it, the Matanuska Susitna Valley (Mat-Su Valley, for short) is a massive expanse, about the size of the state of West Virginia – and stretches between the Talkeetna and Chugach mountain ranges in southeast Alaska.
The Mat-Su Valley was carved out by glaciers millions of years ago, and today is home to some of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country. You’ll find abundant lakes and rivers, massive mountain peaks, and a whole host of unique wildlife in the valley.
The area is much too large to conquer in a short amount of time, so unless you live nearby, you’ll want to select a single portion to explore. One of the most popular spots is Hatcher Pass, a scenic drive with unparalleled mountain views on a clear day.
There are also lots of hiking and cross-country skiing trails located along the path if you’d like to stretch your legs – and there are even a few cabins available for rent if you want to explore the area for more than just a few hours.
10. Valley of Fire, Nevada
The Valley of Fire State Park is located in southern Nevada, and is home to some of the state’s most ancient and precious treasures. The area is aptly named, as it’s filled with red sandstone outcrops that date all the way back to prehistoric times.
There’s also a collection of petroglyphs carved into rocks around the park, which gives evidence of human occupation in the area as far back as 2.5 thousand years ago.
Not only is this valley incredibly interesting for history buffs and anthropology enthusiasts, it’s also extremely beautiful. You can explore this stunning area via hiking and biking trails, scenic drives, or even by climbing these magnificent rocks.
11. Cades Cove, Tennessee
Cades Cove is situated in the Tennessee portion of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the most visited and most beautiful parks in America.
Cades Cove is one of the quieter areas of the park, tucked away from some of the more popular attractions. Luckily, it’s not so off the beaten path that you’ll have to walk to get there; there’s even an 11-mile driving loop that’ll provide you with scenic views across the valley.
This is one of the best areas in the park for wildlife watching, so keep your eyes peeled for black bears, coyotes, and white-tailed deer as you drive.
If you’d like to see more of the park while you’re in the area, Clingman’s Dome is a popular place to take in sweeping views – and from there, you can hop onto the Appalachian Trail or one of the other many paths that cross through the park.
12. The Palouse, Washington, Idaho, and Oregon
The Palouse is a massive windswept area that stretches across three state lines. Although this hilly area isn’t technically a valley, it sure has enough spaces between its peaks to be included in our guide.
Unlike many of the other valleys on our list, this landscape was not created by tectonic plate shifting or years of erosion. These whimsical fields are the result of sediment that has been blown across the area for millions of years – and the outcome is truly breathtaking.
The Palouse is more than just a beautiful accident, however. Each year, wheat and barley crops are planted – and when it comes time for harvest, the fields are even more breathtaking.
The Steptoe Butte is one of the largest hills inside of the Palouse, and the views here are especially spectacular.
13. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
Part of what makes this area so stunning is its location in the Cascade range and its sheer number of impressive waterfalls – over 50!
Multnomah Falls is the most famous waterfall in the gorge, and it’s not hard to see why. This two-tiered beauty is a whopping 611 feet tall and is complete with a beautiful bridge about halfway up.
More adventurous visitors can hike up to the bridge for more spectacular views, while those looking for a more relaxing experience can stay on the viewing platform down below.
After you’ve had a peek at the falls, you can spend some time hiking through the valley and for more incredible views, or head down to the river for some fishing or kayaking along the scenic waters.
14. Antelope Valley, California
Antelope Valley is located on the western tip of the Mojave Desert between the Tehachapi, Sierra Pelona, and the San Gabriel Mountains.
It might surprise you to learn that the desert could be home to anything other than sand and some shrubs – but every spring, Antelope Valley bursts with colorful displays of bright orange and yellow.
Luckily, it’s not flames that causes this fiery hue, but rather a blooming poppy reserve. This grassland desert has nearly 2,000 acres of poppies that make the stunning mountain scenery even more breathtaking for a few months of the year.
Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera!
15. Logan Pass, Montana
Located inside of Glacier National Park between the towering peaks of the Rockies, Logan Pass is one of the most spectacular valleys in the U.S.
The pass is covered in carpets of wildflowers and teeming with wildlife. If you’re lucky, you may spot mountain goats, bighorn sheep, or even the odd grizzly wandering through the area.
Although there are plenty of great trails in the area, it’s possible to drive to Logan Pass. You’ll find the lookout area off the Going to the Sun Road, one of the most popular scenic drives in the park.
Unfortunately, this much beauty doesn’t go unnoticed, especially when it’s so convenient. Located in the country’s most visited national park, this valley is one of the top attractions. The parking lot usually fills before 11:00 each morning, so we recommend getting there bright and early before the crowds become unbearable.
16. Halawa Valley, Hawaii
The third and final Hawaiian entry on our list of the top 30 most beautiful valleys in the USA can be found on the island of Molokai.
Halawa Valley is as beautiful as it is historic. Believed to have been settled by ancient Polynesians as early as 640 AD, it’s easy to see why people would have chosen this area with its stunning vistas, verdant landscapes, and towering waterfalls.
Today, the valley is an island oasis that boasts scenic hiking trails and beautiful beaches. The hike to the Maula Falls is especially stunning, but you’ll need a guide to gain access to this trail, as part of the path crosses through private property.
17. Santa Ynez Valley, California
Straddled by the Santa Ynez and the San Rafael Mountains, the Santa Ynez Valley is one of the most beautiful Valleys and is also one of the most underrated and unknown. We recommend visiting before it becomes a full-fledged tourist destination.
Though usually overshadowed by the more famous Napa and Sonoma wine regions, Ynez Valley is home to over 60 wineries and some of the most stunning scenery in the state. The verdant hillsides also make for some great hiking, and one of the most popular trails in the area is the Lover’s Loop.
Some of the most charming small towns in the valley include Solvang and Buellton, both of which deserve some of your time. The iconic Highway 101 is also just a short jaunt away, so if you feel like continuing your trip along the scenic coast, you won’t have to drive far.
18. Squaw Valley, California
Sometimes referred to as Olympic Valley due to the 1960 Winter Olympic games that were held here, Squaw Valley is one of the most scenic ski destinations in the United States.
Nestled along the gorgeous shores of Lake Tahoe, this winter hot spot is actually a beautiful place to visit year-round. The Squaw Valley Aerial Tram is a great way to take in stunning views of the entire area, and there are a host of events and activities available throughout the year to keep the outdoor adventurers entertained.
In winter months, the slopes are packed with skiers and snowboarders taking the same routes as the Olympians of a bygone era. Once the snow melts, you’ll find hikers trekking along the scenic Eagle Falls Trail.
Once you work up an appetite, head into the nearby city for your choice of restaurants. There are also plenty of hotels, cabins, and resorts should you wish to explore this region for more than one day.
19. Skagit Valley, Washington
Snuggled between La Conner and Mount Vernon in northwest Washington, Skagit Valley (one of The 20 Most Colorful Places In The world!) is a must-see destination – especially in the spring.
In particular, April is really the best time to visit, as this is when the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival takes place.
When you think about impressive tulips fields, you probably picture a windmill-dotted landscape in Holland – but Skagit Valley can rival any vision that your imagination can think up. The mountainous backdrop makes it all the more impressive.
The month-long festival showcases the flowers in full bloom, but also boasts other incredible entertainment options. Come for the tulips, and stay for the wine tastings, mouth-watering barbecues, art exhibits, and guided bike tours.
20. The Berkshires, Massachusetts
Tucked along the mountainous Massachusetts-Connecticut border are the scenic Berkshires. Unlike the spring-time must-sees of Skagit Valley and Antelope Valley, the Berkshires beckon urbanites from all over the east coast to enjoy the fall foliage at its peak.
The best way to experience the autumn colors is by taking a drive down the 63-mile Mohawk Trail. Once used as a trading route by Native Americans, it was the first scenic road in New England. Today, it boasts unmatched views of the surrounding area as it winds past parks, charming small towns, forests, lakes, and districts rich in history.
21. Sonoma Valley, California
Another one of the most popular valleys in California is Sonoma Valley, known for its great wine and incredible scenery. There’s also a ton of history in the area, from Indigenous heritage to Mexican missionaries.
There are over 100 wineries in this verdant valley, and you’ll also find various distilleries and breweries sprinkled throughout the region. Wine is really the star of the show, and what dominates the landscape here.
The vine-laced hills are part of what makes the landscape so stunning, and the rich diversity allows for 5 very distinct AVAs in this small stretch of valley. You’ll also find an amazing farm-to-table food culture in Sonoma Valley, so foodies will enjoy the area just as much as wine lovers.
22. Willamette Valley, Oregon
Situated just an hour outside of Portland is one of the most beautiful valleys in the US. The Willamette Valley is nestled between the Cascades and the Coast Range and boasts beautiful scenery and a plethora of fun activities.
The verdant mountainsides produce great wine grapes, which is evident in the over 500 wineries in the valley. In fact, going for a tasting is basically a rite of passage when visiting the valley.
You could also soak up the incredible scenery by hiking or driving up to Mary’s Peak, going for a paddle on Clear Lake, or pedaling along the Willamette Valley Scenic Bikeway.
23. Hudson Valley, New York
The Hudson Valley is one of the most beautiful areas in New York. This scenic region is known for its vineyards, orchards, production of sustainable food, and incredible fall foliage.
The Hudson Valley is the perfect mix between natural attractions and charming small towns, and the best way to take in all the area has to offer is by driving through the River Town communities.
This is also one of the best ways to learn about the history of the region and see all the antique shops, mouth-watering restaurants, and wineries that can be found around every corner.
24. Verde Valley, Arizona
Located in central Arizona along the Verde River, Verde Valley is one of the most beautiful valleys in America. Known for its iconic red rock buttes and ancient cave dwellings, this valley isn’t your typical lush lowland, which makes it all the more enticing.
The best way to see the valley is by hiking along the scenic trails, but you could also catch a ride on the Verde Canyon Railroad. This old-school railroad leaves from the nearby town of Clarksville and provides visitors with unmatched views of the valley and surrounding area.
If you’d like to learn a little history about this stunning region, you can stop by the Montezuma Castle National Monument or spend some time at the Jerome State Historic Park. This area is also known for its wineries and sunsets, so don’t hesitate to indulge in either (or both!).
25. Methow Valley, Washington
Not only is Methow Valley one of the most beautiful valleys in the USA, it’s also one of the best spots to enjoy some outdoor recreation.
The valley sits in the North Cascades and boasts a plethora of trails for hiking, fat tire biking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. There are also numerous streams and ponds to entice anglers and paddlers, along with a few state parks and scenic driving opportunities.
If you’d like to stay for a while, you’ll find gorgeous camping sites and some fun small towns that offer warm hospitality to visitors from all around. The towns of Mazama and Winthrop are both especially popular, so don’t hesitate to stop by on your way to or from the valley.
27. Coachella Valley, California
Famed for it’s annual elite music festival, Coachella Valley has much more to offer than just celebrity entertainment. Tucked between the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the east and the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains to the west, this desert valley has some seriously scenic landscapes.
Although most just think of dust and sand when they hear the word desert, Coachella Valley proves this untrue. Take a walk on one of the many hiking trails in the area and you’ll discover rare desert wetlands, thousands of palm trees, and even a variety of wildlife.
The Thousand Palms Oasis inside Coachella Valley Preserve boasts some of the best trails in the area – just be sure to leave your pets at home.
On the outskirts of the valley you’ll find a collection of fun and trendy cities, including:
- Palm Springs
- Palm Desert
- La Quinta
27. Paradise Valley, Washington
Located inside of Mount Rainier National Park, Paradise Valley is one of the most scenic areas in the state.
Not only does it offer unparalleled views of Mount Rainier, you’ll be treated to dazzling waterfalls, scenic picnic areas, and carpets of wildflowers in the spring.
The parking lot fills up fast, especially during the summer months – so be sure to arrive plenty early if you hope to snag a spot.
There are various trails around the valley, and if you’re quiet enough, you might spot mountain goats, marmots, squirrels, and a variety of bird species.
28. Livermore Valley, California
Also known as the Valley of San Jose, this northern Californian valley is a hidden gem that is often overshadowed by some of the bigger wine destinations in the area.
Livermore Valley is close to both Sonoma and Napa Valley, but has never received the same hype as the other two. Those looking for a quiet alternative to Napa and Sonoma will find it here.
The verdant hillsides are home to over 50 wineries, and you’ll have no problem visiting more than just a few, because they’re all located fairly near to one another.
You’ll also find that downtown Livermore is bursting with a hefty dose of small-town charm and tons of cute boutiques and restaurants.
29. Santa Clara Valley, California
Those looking for a mix of urban luxuries and remote wilderness will find California’s Santa Clara Valley to be one of the most beautiful in the U.S.
Located on the outskirts of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Valley has all the amenities you’d associate with big city living while offering visitors a verdant landscape to escape the hustle and bustle.
Get your outdoor fix with a scenic drive through the countryside, or take a cruise along the Santa Clara Wine Trail. Although not as popular or prestigious as Napa Valley, there are dozens of wineries in the area that’ll satisfy any wine lover.
There are also plenty of outdoor activities available in this region, from golf courses and tennis courts to hiking and biking trails in the nearby state and national parks.
30. Sequim-Dungeness Valley, Washington
Just like you don’t need to head to Holland to see fields of tulips, you don’t need to head to Marseille, France to find fragrant fields of lavender.
The Olympic Peninsula of Washington is bursting with lush lavender fields, and these beautiful purple flowers are just part of what makes this region so enticing. You’ll find great weather with plenty of sunshine (a real rarity in Washington), an abundance of small-town charm, and lots of outdoor recreation.
After you fill your lungs with the calming scent of the lavender fields, spend your day hiking, biking, birdwatching, or maybe taking a paddle down the Dungeness River.