Instagram influencers posing in front of breathtaking landscapes in America’s top tourist spots, from the Grand Canyon to Niagara Falls, paint a very rosy picture – but unfiltered images show the busy reality.
In a time where social media is full of snaps edited to perfectionit can sometimes be difficult to differentiate between an influencer’s filtered view and what’s actually there.
But the trend, billed as “Instagram vs. Reality,” now exposes the unvarnished truth of what it’s really like to travel to the country’s most iconic destinations.
Here, DailyMail.com reveals some of the most shocking differences between images that raise tourist expectations and their actual corresponding sites.
1.Grand Canyon, Arizona
One of the most visited places in the country, the Grand Canyon is celebrated for its towering cliffs and breathtaking scenery – though the crowds it draws are often lost in stunning social media images, especially during the summer months
One of the most visited places in the country, Arizona’s vast Grand Canyon is acclaimed for its towering cliffs and breathtaking scenery.
However, about 6 million visitors flock to the sprawling site each year, and the 1,900-square-mile area has just four spots of observation areas, often resulting in huge queues to get that all-important Instagram shot.
The lack of dedicated viewing areas is bad news for those looking to enjoy the park’s natural majesty, a fact often lost in stunning social media images that show cliffs and ridges as far as the eye can see.
To get such a shot, however, you either have to cut out a straggling crowd or wait your turn – especially during the summer months when the canyon’s travel season is at its peak.
If you want to get a shot that’s considered “Gram-worthy,” it’s best to wait for spring and fall to plan a trip. when daytime temperatures are cool and crowds thinner.
2. Niagara Falls, New York
Beautifully located on the Canada-US border, Niagara Falls offers stunning views of three sets of falls, but viewing areas are often obscured by crowds of people
Niagara Falls is located on the border between Canada and the US and is divided in two by the Niagara River. Niagara Falls offers beautiful views of three falls, the most famous of which is a whopping 55 meters high.
The location also has the distinction of being America’s oldest state park and is flanked by Buffalo to the east and the Canadian city of St. Catharines to the west.
More than 20 million people visit the site each year, often expecting to take scenic walks and enjoy the breathtaking views.
But images captured by some of these visitors regularly disprove that peaceful narrative, instead showing huge crowds drenched by the massive amounts of water constantly tumbling over the iconic vertical drops.
What’s more, while still impressive, the view from the New York side is far less aesthetically pleasing than from its Canadian counterpart – meaning you’ll probably need a passport to recreate some of social media’s more iconic images. imitate
However, the view is still good on both sides of the river. If you can stand the cold and snow, visit during the winter or fall and you’ll avoid the crowds that come in the spring and summer.
3.Brooklyn Bridge, New York
Few landmarks are as iconic in New York as the Brooklyn Bridge – although navigating the swarms of tourists it attracts daily is a claustrophobic person’s worst nightmare
The tallest building in all of Manhattan at the time of its construction in 1883, there aren’t many landmarks as iconic in New York as the Brooklyn Bridge.
Serving as one of the few remnants of the city’s Gilded Age, it boasts a Gothic architectural splendor that is now a rare sight in the Five Boroughs.
As a result, the tens of millions of tourists who visit the Big Apple year-round generally make it a point to stop at the bridge, clogging the wood-paneled bike and pedestrian paths.
The result is a claustrophobia’s worst nightmare, with hundreds of people crossing the East River during the day.
To get a good shot, social media users tend to keep their distance or wait until evening to capture another side of the very first photo. Crossing the East River illuminated by the many lights.
You could also wait until winter, but even then it is usually packed.
4. Las Vegas Strip, Nevada
At first glance, Las Vegas – an oasis in the arid desert of Nevada and Eastern California – seems like a tourist’s dream, but the harsh reality is that the constant stream of rides and shows draws a steady stream of often drunk revelers.
At first glance, Las Vegas — an oasis in the arid desert of Nevada and Eastern California — seems like a tourist’s dream, with a string of glitzy, luxury resorts and a central strip that could pass for an amusement park.
But the harsh reality is that the constant stream of rides and shows draws a steady stream of revelers, constantly congesting the four-mile stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard South.
For a city that welcomes 45.5 million visitors with almost no breaks throughout the year, this is sometimes problematic for those looking to capture the area’s unique beauty.
Constantly flowing alcohol and gambling also add to the chaos, which often cannot be expressed in a single, momentary snapshot.
5. Central Park, New York
Central Park has long been a fixture of New York City life, but good luck finding a spot on its many lawns in the spring and summer
Central Park has been a fixture in New York City life since it was established in 1857, with the original goal of providing city dwellers with some access to the countryside.
It also served as a place for residents to escape from the stress of the big city, as well as a place to connect with nature – and their fellow New Yorkers.
More than a century and a half later, the park maintains that distinction to a T and attracts more than 40 million tourists and native New Yorkers each year.
But with only 1.3 square miles of greenery to go around, crowds are almost guaranteed during the summer, spring, and fall months. Even winter attracts millions of visitors seeking a snowy retreat.
The park’s more popular attractions, such as the Great Lawn and Sheep Meadow, are often so crowded that space to even set up a blanket can be a pipe dream.
6. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming-Montana-Idaho
Home to the iconic Old Faithful, historic Yellowstone National Park encompasses an impressive 3,472 square miles – but its main attractions are often overrun with tourists
Home to an iconic, ancient volcano – as well as a vast landscape that welcomes nearly four million nature lovers each year – historic Yellowstone National Park straddles three separate states and is home to a myriad of natural phenomena.
Covering 3,472 square miles – or 2,221,766 acres – the park is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined, and is the oldest national park in the entire US.
With so much space, travelers might assume crowds aren’t an issue, but unfortunately that’s not the case.
Images show how the most popular attractions – such as the Old Faithful geyser – draw disproportionately more people than the myriad more desolate areas in the park.
Yellowstone also only has 12 official campgrounds, so the surrounding areas are increasingly crowded.
7. Golden Gate Bridge, California
Stretching 2.7 miles across San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed crossings in the world – but that’s only if you can catch a glimpse of it when it’s not shrouded in fog
Stretching 1.7 miles across San Francisco Bay, the Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most photographed crossings in the world, and – at nearly 800 feet high – one of the tallest suspension bridges in the country.
Painted bright orange, it is a marvel of modern engineering – as well as an aesthetic masterpiece that adds a unique quality to the coastal city.
But that’s only if you can catch an unobstructed glimpse of it.
Despite its bright hue, the bridge is often shrouded in fog, making it difficult to get a photo suitable for social media.
Photos show the less than attractive result of the almost perpetual smog – with the tops of the main towers sticking out through a low hanging cloud.
8. Yosemite National Park, California
Possibly America’s most beloved park, Yosemite is just east of the major cities of San Francisco and Sacramento – but conditions during the winter and fall, when there’s less runoff and more cloud cover, may surprise some would-be snappers
Perhaps America’s most beloved park, Yosemite is located just east of the major cities of San Francisco and Sacramento and welcomes more than five million travelers each year.
However, conditions during winter and even fall may surprise some, with pronounced snowfalls making it difficult to appreciate some of the area’s sweeping cliffs and waterfalls.
Those wishing to snap a photo of some of the area’s majestic waterfalls then have a limited time to do so, with peak runoff usually occurring from May to June.
During the rest of the year, waterfalls — including the outstanding Yosemite Falls — dry up more often than not, with potential photos further limited by cloud cover seen in the fall and winter.
That said, most of the park’s more impressive photos are generally taken during the warmer, sunnier seasons.
9. Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
South Dakota’s imposing Mount Rushmore bears the faces of Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson and Theodore Roosevelt. Given the two million tourists it attracts annually, the site is often not as majestic as some images suggest
One of the newer attractions to make the list, South Dakota’s imposing Mount Rushmore—which bears the faces of Presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt—is a feat of modern architecture.
Completed in 1941 after 14 years of painstaking work, the structure was handcrafted and attracts two million tourists a year – despite being in a somewhat sparse area.
But those planning to take in the sights of the national monument may want to plan ahead and perhaps arrive early in the day to avoid the inevitable crowds.
Photos show how limited vantage points lead to lagging crowds – often at the expense of the perfect shot.
10: Walt Disney World Resort, Florida
Walt Disney World first opened in Orlando in 1971 and has welcomed billions of Americans ever since. But as with other attractions, crowds can be problematic
Walt Disney World Resort first opened in Orlando in 1971 and has welcomed hundreds of millions of families through its hallowed gates ever since.
Aside from the various theme parks, the sprawling estate also includes a slew of water parks, shops, theaters, and restaurants – and almost acts as a community of its own.
But as is the case with many other popular attractions, crowds can be problematic when taking photos for social media.
While some may be lucky earlier in the day or during the colder months, the park is visited almost all year round.