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12 Iconic U.S. Landscapes Where You Can Take Breathtaking Photos

You won't believe your eyes—or the images you capture.

We can all appreciate a quality photo-op—especially when you get a shot with an amazing background. You might be lucky enough to have some picturesque spots in your hometown that are favorites among the snap-happy. But there are also iconic landscapes throughout the U.S. where you can get a truly breathtaking photo. Read on to find out where you should travel for Instagram-worthy pictures.

RELATED: The 10 Most Naturally Beautiful States in the U.S., Data Shows.

1
Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (Las Vegas)

red rock canyon national conservation area in nevada
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According to Kristin Lee, travel expert and owner of the adventure travel blog Global Travel Escapades, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area should "be at the top of every photographer's list."

"This national conservation area is famous for its towering red rock formations that starkly contrast the bright blue sky and provide a picturesque backdrop for any photo," she tells Best Life. "Not only that, but there are also plenty of adventurous activities to take in the breathtaking landscape, such as hiking, rock climbing, and even horseback riding through the stunning canyon!"

2
The Adirondacks (New York)

the adirondacks new york
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If you prefer a mountain range for your photo-ops, Becca Siegel, co-owner at Half Half Travel blog, suggests visiting the Adirondacks.

"For those unfamiliar, the Adirondack Mountains is the rugged landscape at the northern end of New York State, closer to Canada and Vermont," she says. "The region is vast, with 5,000 square miles of wilderness and more than 100 mountain peaks."

She suggests a visit in the fall when you can climb the mountains for summit views—and photos—of the vibrant foliage.

"It's a fantastic place within the U.S. to be seeing the spectacular side of our natural world," Siegel says.

RELATED: 16 Secret Spots in the U.S. So Stunning You Won't Believe They're Real.

3
Death Valley National Park (California and Nevada)

death valley national park in california
Wenjie Zheng / Shutterstock

Any photographer will also be enamored with the scenery at Death Valley National Park.

"Death Valley National Park has some of the most unique landscape features I've ever seen (and I've been to 47 states)," Lindsey Danis, founder of the queer travel blog Queer Adventurers, says. "Polychrome rocks, slot canyons, and salt flats are a few of the photo-worthy features you'll discover there."

4
Taos, New Mexico

ranchos de taos valley in new mexico
Kristi Blokhin / Shutterstock

In Taos, New Mexico, you'll find an array of mountainscapes and desert views that are picture-perfect.

Amber Haggerty, a travel blogger with Amber Everywhere, notes that this spot was a favorite of American modernist painter Georgia O'Keeffe. In addition to her famed florals, O'Keefe is also known for her desert motifs—and you'll see her inspiration first-hand in Taos.

"Photographers capture the incredible Taos Mountains, the Rio Grande, and sometimes even a landscape dotted with hot air balloons in the early mornings," Haggerty says. "Sunrises in Taos are especially breathtaking, with fiery reds from the desert sand against the distinctive shapes of the adobe homes and cathedrals."

5
Antelope Canyon (Lake Powell Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona)

Antelope Canyon lights and rocks arizona
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You may recognize photos of the iconic Antelope Canyon in Arizona, and it's something you'll definitely want to see for yourself.

"This slot canyon is famous for its sculpted sandstone walls and plays of light that create otherworldly images," says luxury travel advisor Elizabeth Kacza. "For a bucket list experience, book a few nights stay at quite possibly the most exclusive stay in the United States, Amangiri."

6
Big Bend National Park (Brewster County, Texas)

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An amazing spot that doesn't get as much recognition and "fanfare" is Big Bend National Park, Katy Nastro, spokesperson and travel expert with the Going app, says.

"This national park is a true desert experience with limestone cliffs, hot springs, and all the desert wildlife one can expect," Nastro tells Best Life. "More than 100 miles of paved road through the parks means you can stop on the way back from a long hike and take in the scenery—from your air-conditioned ride."

RELATED: The 10 Best U.S. National Parks to See Fall Foliage.

7
The Pacific Coast Highway (California)

view of morro bay from the pch in california
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Also on Nastro's list of photographic views are those from the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) between Morro Bay and San Francisco, California.

"This stretch along the PCH bends around the coast and offers some incredibly stunning cliffside views," she says.

Spending the night? Nastro recommends booking your stay in a treehouse at the Treebones Resort in Big Sur.

"You'll wake up among the branches and with a speechless view," she says. "The entire Big Sur portion of this drive will have you wanting to point and shoot at every bend."

8
Red Rocks (Morrison, Colorado)

red rocks amphitheater, near denver colorado
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Not to be confused with Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Red Rocks in Colorado is equally as photogenic.

"I've recently visited Red Rocks outside of Denver, Colorado, and it was such a stunning landscape that would be perfect for taking breathtaking photos, both of the landscape and with people in them," Samantha Linnett, travel planner and blogger behind Discover with Sam, says.

While the spot is known for its amphitheater, there are also plenty of walking trails where you can pose for photos or get an elevated view of your surroundings, Linnett suggests.

"The scenery with the layered red rock formations is otherworldly—it was almost too beautiful for words," she shares. "Myself and several others were stopping every few steps to take pictures and gawk at how beautiful everything was, and to connect with each other over our mutual amazement!"

RELATED: 8 Beautiful Places Where You Can Go Without a Passport.

9
Acadia National Park (Maine)

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Joseph Rossbach / Shutterstock

Acadia National Park in Maine is also on Danis' list of iconic photogenic spots.

"Growing up in New England, there's something iconic to me about a rocky coastline, especially with a lighthouse framing the shot," Danis says. "Heading north of Portland, anywhere in mid-coast Maine will give you lots of iconic landscape image opportunities, but I strongly recommend Acadia National Park, which has some of the most beautiful sunsets (and sunrises) I've seen."

10
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (Alger County, Michigan)

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
Le Do / Shutterstock

The "Pictured Rocks" at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are named for the colorful vertical stripes on the cliffs. But the cliffs are also certainly "picturesque."

"In Michigan's Upper Peninsula, Pictured Rocks is an epic landscape for photos," Danis says. "It's also a great pick for night sky photographers who want to try astrophotography or capture the northern lights, which may be visible between August and April."

11
Great Smoky Mountains National Park (North Carolina and Tennessee)

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If you prefer photos of greenery and feel most at home in the forest, take your camera on a trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

"Known for its misty mountains, lush forests, and diverse plant and animal life, the Great Smoky Mountains are a paradise for nature photographers," Kacza says.

For an exceptional glamping trip and a chance to capture photos of the starry night sky, Kacza recommends booking a stay with Under Canvas Great Smoky Mountains.

12
Monument Valley (Arizona and Utah)

monument valley at dusk
vivek makavana / Shutterstock

This spot is well-known as a photogenic landscape—and it's for good reason.

"The iconic red sandstone buttes and mesas of Monument Valley have been featured in countless films and offer stunning panoramic views," Kacza says.

Abby Reinhard
Abby Reinhard is a Senior Editor at Best Life, covering daily news and keeping readers up to date on the latest style advice, travel destinations, and Hollywood happenings. Read more
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