As a seasoned travel writer, I use research studies to jolt my mind, and make me compare my opinions. I can agree or not, but I usually learn and I’m often surprised by the results, and act on them.
“Beauty” is subjective, and yet the following study is based on numbers and stats rather than opinions, and I find that interesting. The experts at Airport Parking Reservations have explored a range of factors such as the number of mountains, natural lakes and waterfalls to reveal their listing of U.S.’s top 25 most naturally beautiful states.
Washington, the Evergreen State, takes top spot. The state has 3,132 waterfalls (!), the most of any state in the U.S. Washington’s western side is mountainous, the eastern parts have wildly different climates with arid deserts and semiarid steppe.
In second place, with a beauty score of 8.64, is California. Despite being densely populated, the state has immense geographical diversity, with stunning coastline, sprawling redwood forests, snow-capped mountains, and even dry deserts. It’s home to some of the most famous natural sites such as Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, and Mount Shasta, and its cliff-faced Pacific coast adds even more beauty.
Alaska takes the third position and due to being so vast and with such little population, it offers tremendous untouched natural beauty to explore: glaciers, mountains, rushing rivers and pristine lakes. Alaska also includes a number of small islands, each with its own beauty and charm.
— Alaska has the most ‘Ultras’ (peaks at least 1,500m), with 64 in totalWith 8,008 named mountains, California accounts for nearly 11% of the U.S. total number.
— California has the most national parks: 9 of the country’s 63.
— The state with the highest number of large natural lakes is Florida, with 30,000. The springs area in northern Florida is rated best in the world.
— Washington, surprisingly, has the most beaches in the U.S.: 1,368.
Below is the research study’s list of the top 25 most naturally beautiful states. How do you feel about it? (I would put Utah higher on the list; the canyons there are so remarkable. And I’m glad to see Michigan at 14; northern Michigan is often overlooked as one of the loveliest areas of the country. And what state is more beautiful than Vermont in autumn? But that seasonal event is not considered on this survey, and the state does not make the list.)
You might use this listing as a start, and compile your own, based not on stats but on your own feelings and experiences. And perhaps use this as an impetus to travel to beautiful places you haven’t yet enjoyed.
You can view the research in full by clicking here.
(Check out Episodes #11, #16, #27, #32, #58, and #62 of my award-winning travel podcast Places I Remember with Lea Lane to find out more about several of these beautiful states. On Apple, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. Or on my website.)