• America’s 250 favorite natural landmarks revealed in national survey.
  • 4 other New Mexico landmarks included in the top 250 list.
  • Infographic

New Mexico’s White Sands National Park ranked 22 among the nation’s favorite natural landmarks, according to a national survery.

Described as “great wave-like dunes of gypsum sand have engulfed 275 square miles of desert, creating the world’s largest gypsum dunefield,” it was among four New Mexico landmarks that made the list of the top 250, according to a press release announcing the findings.

From the mystical Appalachian Trail which runs through the east, to the natural phenomenon that is Mississippi’s Petrified Forest, and the esteemed Grand Canyon, the U.S. has volumes to offer when it comes to exploring natural sites and landmarks.

Aqua Expeditions, a global leader in luxury small-ship expeditions, polled 2,100 Americans on which local natural landmarks they would most like to visit.

It was revealed that the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which lies on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee, is the natural landmark most people would like to tick off their bucket list. Unsurprisingly, this destination is the most visited national park in America, having attracted more than 14.1 million visitors in 2021 alone.

In 2nd place, Niagara Falls emerged as one of the most popular natural landmarks, which is located on the Niagara River. At the Observation Tower at Prospect Point in the Niagara Falls State Park, visitors can view all three waterfalls.

Located in Belleview, Missouri, Elephant Rocks State Park is a geologic reserve and recreation area, and it emerged in 3rd place. It is named for a row of large granite boulders, resembling a train of elephants.

A closer look at the figures:

New Mexico’s natural landmarks voted in the 250 most popular include:

  • #22 White Sands National Park.
    #55 Shiprock.
    #56 Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
    #226 Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness.
    #235 Bandelier National Monument.

The top 10 natural landmarks Americans would most like to visit:

  1. Tennessee’s Great Smoky Mountains National Park
    2. New York’s Niagara Falls
    3. Missouri’s Elephant Rocks
    4. Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park
    5. California’s Redwood National and State Parks
    6. Hawaii’s Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
    7. Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay
    8. Iowa’s Pikes Peak State Park
    9. Arizona’s The Grand Canyon
    10. Hawaii’s Waikīkī Beach

The top 10 states’ share of most popular landmarks:

  1. Hawaii
    2. Tennessee
    3. California
    4. New York
    5. Missouri
    6. Wyoming
    7 . Maryland
    8. Florida
    9. Kentucky
    10. Nevada

While it is evident how eager Americans are to visit local landmarks at least once in their lives, it appears this willingness extends beyond the national border to landmarks across the world. Indeed, Aqua Expeditions quizzed 3,013 Americans to determine if the country’s proficiency in well-known global landmarks is up to scratch. The quiz revealed that overall, Americans scored a highly commendable score when it came to identifying global geographical landmarks. Almost half (47%) correctly identified popular landmarks when presented to them.

Aqua Expeditions created an interactive quiz so that readers can test their own international geographical knowledge, and compare to others.

“Nowadays, travellers are searching for more meaningful experiences in which they can witness and learn first-hand about a destination’s biodiversity and cultural heritage, as well as gain a broader perspective of the world around them,” said Francesco Galli Zugaro, CEO & founder of Aqua Expeditions.