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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

When European settlers first started carving up territories (and eventually independent states and countries) in the “New World” during the second half of the last millennium, they didn’t care about splitting up natural wonders or continuous sections of geography. They drew borders solely for political and/or easily marked reasons. Which is why North America is divided the way we see it today. 

So when it comes to seeing some of the greatest outdoors on the continent, sometimes you have to cross borders to experience the full thing. Here’s why the following are worth someday seeing from both sides.

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The Black Hills

Mostly located in South Dakota but also extending into Wyoming, the isolated mountain range and national forest known as the Black Hills is easily the most beautiful and diverse section of the Great Plains. In South Dakota, you’ll find Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park and Badlands National Park. In Wyoming, you’ll find Devil’s Tower, the nation’s first and truly surreal National Monument. In both states you’ll find grasslands that sway like a gentle green ocean and inviting forests you won’t want to leave. Just go already. 

Lake Tahoe

Known for both its summer and winter activities, Lake Tahoe separates Northern California from Nevada in a truly scenic setting. While you’ll find excellent ski resorts, hotels, and restaurants on both sides of the lake, there are some differences. While Nevada is easier to fly into (i.e. Reno airport) and has better nightlife and golf (plus casinos), California is a little more peaceful, and has better swimming, skiing and easier hiking. Make your choice of where to stay and then easily do both sides in one trip. 

Niagara Falls

Welcome to the biggest waterfall in North America and one of the biggest in the world. Actually three falls in one closely packed area, Niagara separates Canada from the United States; more specifically Ontario from New York. While America is actually home to the smaller American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls, the larger Horseshoe (or Canadian) Falls is split between the two countries. That said, the Canadian side has the better views, whereas the American side is quieter with fewer crowds and development. 

Glacier National Park

Similar to Niagara Falls, Glacier National Park crosses the American-Canadian border; more specifically Montana and Alberta. Also like Niagara, the American side of Glacier National Park is noticeably quieter and less developed. Truth be told, it’s also a lot more scenic (looking at you Going-to-the-Sun Road, Grinnell Glacier and Logan Pass). While the Canadian side has more amenities, the American side feels more like a proper National Park. 

Lake Powell

This is arguably the greatest boating lake in America and perhaps even the world. Need a good visual? Imagine flooding the Grand Canyon and then hiking it by boat instead of foot. That’s Lake Powell. That said, while this sprawling reservoir is almost wholly contained in Utah, the two biggest marinas, the dam itself, more amenities, and popular Horseshoe Bend are all in Page, Arizona. While Bullfrog Marina in Utah is harder to get to, it’s also arguably more scenic with taller canyon walls. Granted, you can still get to the same areas from Arizona, but you’ll need to boat farther, which isn’t a bad thing.

Tagged: California, Canada, National Parks, New York, Utah

Note: Orbitz compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Blake Snow

Blake Snow

Blake writes for fancy publications and Fortune 500 companies as a seasoned writer-for-hire and energetic travel columnist. He lives in Provo, Utah with his loving family and loyal dog, and hopes to visit all seven continents someday.

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