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Vistas For An Artistic Awakening

Whether you’re a landscape painter or just want to feel the rush of an inspiring view (double rainbows, anyone?), taking a trek to an incredible vista can be one of the best ways to refresh your artistic practice.

Don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to go to all the way to Tibet to revel in nature’s grandeur. The United States is home to some of the most aesthetically inspiring and diverse natural wonders anywhere. Check out these top views, and you’ll be sure to have an artistic awakening.

Big Sur Coastline, California

The ocean doesn’t get much more breathtaking than along the Pacific Coast Highway near Big Sur. Here you will take in waves crashing against rugged cliffs, California’s legendary redwood forests, and fog banks that roll through the landscape to lend everything a sense of drama and mystery. The driving route along Big Sur is California Highway One, which has limited access due to the coastal mountains. Your best bet for getting there is to enter near Monterey and Carmel or from Morro Bay and Cambria. The Big Sur Chamber of Commerce has detailed information about local beaches and camping.

Hopi Point, Grand Canyon, Arizona

No list of American vistas is complete without this enduring icon. Although the peaceful isolation of the Grand Canyon has been somewhat spoiled by tourism (don’t expect to watch a sunset here by yourself without a long hike), its geological splendor is truly jaw-dropping. Hopi Point offers one of the best views by car, and if you’re able to spend a few days, then a trek down the Canyon’s basin is worth the effort. The Grand Canyon National Park (as seen in Photo 1) is located 60 miles north of Williams, Arizona (via route 64 from Interstate 40) and 80 miles northwest of Flagstaff (via route 180) and is accessible by car, rail, and bus. Hopi Point is located on the south rim of Canyon, and is accessible by shuttle bus from Grand Canyon Village. Reservations during the summer months are crucial for a successful visit, so check with the National Park Service for updated visitor information.

White Sands National Monument, New Mexico

Sometimes an expanse of nothingness gives you the most in return. The Dunes Drive through the White Sands National Monument in New Mexico will take you through miles of pure white gypsum sand that sparkles against a deep azure sky. Be sure to take plenty of water, and you can spend the day trekking off-road where you’re certain to have a zen experience among the dunes.

Manhattan Skyline, New York

Okay, so maybe it’s not a natural wonder, but you can’t argue with the view from the Empire State building, or even from a drive across the Brooklyn Bridge at night. Manhattan has inspired artists from Woody Allen to Vera Lutter, and taking a bite of the Big Apple is essential nourishment for anyone who wants to get the creative juices flowing.

Clingmans Dome, The Appalachian Trail, and Great Smokey Mountains National Park

The Appalachian Trail, which covers fourteen states on its windy path from Florida to Maine, is itself a sight to be seen, (viewable in Photo 2. If you can’t cover the whole 2,179 miles, a scenic gem can be found at Clingmans Dome on the state line ridge, bordering Tennessee and North Carolina. The dome is the highest point east of the Mississippi, rising to over 6,643 feet. It is accessible from Clingmans Dome Road driving from Newfound Gap, Tennessee and then walking a steep half-mile trail. A paved trail leads to a 54-foot observation tower. Access to the trail is limited in the winter months, so be sure to check with the National Park Service for travel information.