The Grand Canyon
Even if you've never set foot in America, you've probably got a pretty clear picture in your mind of the Grand Canyon: an endless desert valley, drifting ochre dust on the hot air, scrubland and cactus about your feet, and a ribbon of river twisting beneath you – and on either side, the jagged, ruddy-hued faces of the USA's mightiest crags. Well, we're here to tell you that what you're imagining is...spot on! The Grand Canyon, carved a mile deep by the Colorado River in its looping east-west course across Arizona, is everything you've dreamed it to be – except even more spectacular. And with traditional mule rides, once the standard way to access the Canyon, now diversified into hiking, rafting, jeep trips, helicopter tours, a transparent platform, skydiving and even an 'Ultra Marathon', there are more angles to explore that soul-searing view from than ever before.
Starting on the accessible South Rim of the Canyon, try a day-hike down from Lipan Point on the Tanner Trail. If you're feeling fit (and ambitious), you can cross the Canyon from rim to rim, with an overnight at the iconic Phantom Ranch, built by one of the USA's first female architects Mary Colter. Just make sure your body is ready for the unremitting uphill climb the next day! The North Rim of the Canyon is less frequented than the south, but at least as beautiful, with banded red rocks and a covering of snow in wintertime. And at the West Rim, on land belonging to the Hualapai Indian Tribe, the most dramatic view of all awaits you: straight down under your feet from the Skywalk, a U-shaped glass walkway suspended 4000ft (1219m) over the canyon bottom.