The Most Beautiful of the 50 States

| National Park ServiceNational Park Service | Grand Teton, Wyoming | National Park ServiceGrand Teton National Park, Wyoming | National Park Service In terms of breathtaking, awe-inspiring landscapes, the United States of America is unrivaled on the global stage. From steamy deserts to

impressive mountains surrounded by a forest of trees

| National Park ServiceNational Park Service | Grand Teton, Wyoming
| National Park ServiceGrand Teton National Park, Wyoming | National Park Service

In terms of breathtaking, awe-inspiring landscapes, the United States of America is unrivaled on the global stage. From steamy deserts to verdant rainforests to endless tundras, the fifty states offer a diversity of landscapes that is unmatched anywhere else on Earth. You can easily find a view that will make you feel awed by the power of nature.

Some sibling rivalry is inevitable among the states. Those states whose granite mountains are superior to those of other states, or whose bone-white beaches are undoubtedly superior to those of states whose red-rock deserts have been around for a thousand years, think they are right. Okay, so let's put an end to this discussion. We put together a team of writers who have collectively been to all 50 states, and they have been debating and weighing the relative merits of each state's various bodily features.

We each came up with our own order for the states, then sat down to discuss the discrepancies and argue our respective cases. The choice between the desert and the ocean is a difficult one. mountains Competing mountains versus lakes Lakes vs forests Forests vs seashore Contrast the beach with glaciers Contrasting Glaciers and orchards The correct response was not possible to determine. before reaching the conclusion that there was

Kansas wheat | TommyBrison/ShutterstockTo the TommyBrison/Shutterstock | Flint Hills

50. Kansas

Kansans are a hardy bunch who can take joy in the little things in life. Their environments, especially the second half of the "Great Plains," inspire this admirable trait. If Kansans can be proud of their state, then there's no reason anyone else shouldn't be.

Indiana Located in the beautiful McCormick's Creek State Park Illustration by Kenneth Keifer/Thinkstock

Number 49: Indiana

Dunes National Lakeshore, near the top, has a fun little playground and great views of Lake Michigan. Small towns in southern Indiana, such as Bloomington, have a pastoral feel due to the state's hilly terrain. Between those instances, Other than summertime drives and the calming, almost hypnotic allure of watching corn flash past your window at 60mph, there isn't much to recommend.

Illinois | Mark Baldwin/ShutterstockMark Baldwin / Shutterstock Blackwell Forest Preserve

State Number 48: Illinois

While lacking in natural attractions, this Midwestern state makes up for it by erecting dozens of stunning skyscrapers along Lake Michigan. The Garden of the Gods, with its craggy sandstone formations in the state's southeastern corner, is just one example of the state's dramatic scenery that can be found outside of Chicago. Definitely take in the sights along the winding Mississippi River as you travel west.

Iowa MP_P/Shutterstock

47. Iowa

Although Iowa is notoriously boring and flat as a pancake, it is nonetheless a state worth visiting. However, it provides a habitat for many leafy organisms and is quite beautiful once the sun goes down. The sunsets in Iowa never get old.

Oklahoma Photograph by Richard A McMillin/Shutterstock1Richard A McMillin/Shutterstock

We're on the 46th spot, Oklahoma.

There are some who might argue Oklahoma's relatively low ranking is unfair because the state offers a fair amount of diversity. The panhandle stretches out to give New Mexico a peck on the cheek, the southern border is a great place to read Larry McMurtry scenes, and the eastern border, near the Arkansas state line, is a surprisingly diverse mix of electric-green hills and jungly mid-American forests. Let's just say that Oklahoma is more attractive than your low expectations would lead you to believe.

Gulfport Gulfport Images by clayton harrison/Shutterstock

There are 45 states.

Multiple hundreds of people in Mississippi are saying, "Holy cow" right now. Our state is not in the bottom five in at least one ranking. Mississippians, you should count your blessings that the Gulf Coast is so much fun. Despite the attractive magnolias and other plants native to the South, you are still 21 miles of undeveloped white sandy beach and some pristine swamps away from being called the Indiana of the South.

farmhouse on hills To avoid this, you should run for the hills of southern Ohio. | Ronald E Grafe/ShutterstockBy Ronald E Grafe/Shutterstock

44. Ohio

With its elevated center and rounded edges, Ohio deserves its reputation for being unremarkable flatness. Its southern, hilly region is more attractive than most people realize, especially considering its proximity to Kentucky and West Virginia. Ohio's nearly 300 miles of Great Lake coastline offer outstanding open-water vistas from the tops of roller coasters, and while no one would mistake the southern shore of Lake Erie for Big Sur, the two regions are remarkably similar.

unusual rock formations at sunset | Diana Robinson/ShutterstockIn the Toadstool Geological Park | Diana Robinson/Shutterstock

State #43: Nebraska

Nebraska's big skies and rolling hills may be easy to miss, but they exude a genuinely pleasant and peaceful charm that is hard to ignore. As breathtaking as the Badlands of Nebraska, located in Toadstool Geologic Park ) and Chimney Rock are, Nebraska lacks the breathtaking scenery of its western counterparts. Its open spaces, Platte River, and complex ecosystem attract millions of birds every spring, including 80 percent of the world's sandhill cranes.

Missouri River LanaG/Shutterstock

The Show-Me State, Number 42: Missouri

It's hard for Missouri to stand out when it's surrounded by five states that have already made an appearance deep in this list. A less agriculturally worn bridge between Illinois and Kansas can be found in the state's great sprawling center. However, the region's southern two-thirds are especially delightful. Branson and the surrounding crimson hills of the Lake of the Ozarks region are great for winding drives and fishing trips. Those who live in eastern Missouri take advantage of the state's woods and rivers. Johnson Shut-Ins State Park's rocky formations near the park's swimming holes are one example; similarly, Current River's lazy tube floats offer another. They're so devoid of trash that it's almost eerie; a sign that people in Missouri are grateful for their circumstances.

lake nawahunta | Tetyana Ohare/ShutterstockFrom Mount Tammany, you can see the Delaware Water Gap. | Tetyana Ohare/Shutterstock

As number 41, New Jersey

To be honest, this wouldn't be shocking even if New Jersey hadn't covered most of the state in jug handles and suburban sprawl. But then it went and did things like fill the state with freeways, overdevelop the beaches, and have more superfund sites than any other state (114). However, if you are able to get away from the urban sprawl, you will find that many parts of the state are beautiful, with hills, glacial lakes, nice beaches, and the truly beautiful and underappreciated Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area, which New Jersey and Pennsylvania share.

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Looking out over the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota | ZakZeinert/ShutterstockNational Park of Theodore Roosevelt | ZakZeinert/Shutterstock

Fortyth, North Dakota

North Dakota has become synonymous with "frozen wasteland" for some reason, perhaps due to fracking, the Coen brothers, and the month of January. While this is true in some parts of the state, it would be a shame to overlook the fact that New Mexico is also home to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, a stunning landscape of prairies, mesas, and mountains populated by buffalo. The beautiful sister state to the south, South Dakota, often steals the spotlight from North Dakota, which is often overlooked because it is seen as the younger sibling.

Delaware beach It's in Lewes, Delaware. By Yvonne Navalaney/Shutterstock

The State of Delaware

Need to take someone by surprise Drop them a line with a postcard from Delaware. When they see the silhouette of dune grasses against the ocean sunset, they will be taken aback and say, "I never knew Delaware was that pretty." No one parks more than three automobiles in Delaware at a time, so nobody does. If you're in one of the other three cars, though, you can enjoy the same breathtaking views of Delaware's picturesque countryside and decent beaches and exclaim, "Delaware!" Hi My current location is Delaware. "

Louisiana Warren Price Photography/ShutterstockPhoto by Warren Price/Shutterstock

Location #38: Louisiana

Despite New Orleans' (justly Despite the state's urban areas receiving most of the attention, Louisiana's rural areas boast excellent fishing, fantastic duck hunting, and unforgettable airboat rides through cypress swamps filled with alligators. However, the low elevation of the state (its highest natural point is only twice as high as the Superdome) and its location at the mouth of the Mississippi River do not bode well for its beaches and wetlands. You'll be forced to endure sights that can only be fully appreciated by ducks.

Sugarloaf Mountain overlooking Connecticut River in the fall at sunset | Romiana Lee/ShutterstockOverlooking the Connecticut River from Sugarloaf Mountain | Romiana Lee/Shutterstock

As a 37th place finisher, Connecticut

Oh, poor Connecticut (figuratively speaking, of course) Aside from the fact that "half the state is Yankees country," most of New England will likely reject it because of its proximity to New York. Even though it was the region's hill-and-valley idyll, it was deemed "the runt of the litter." Despite its flat terrain and picturesque coastal villages and inland Berkshires streams, most of the state consists of anonymous suburbs and city outskirts. Furthermore, even the mighty Connecticut River has slowed down (and picked up flotsam in Hartford and Springfield) as it makes its way to the ocean.

Alabama Stock photograph by Jason Patrick Ross

The 36th State: Alabama

When compared to the other Gulf Coast states, which are mostly a flat, green expanse of humidity and pine trees, central Alabama, specifically the Birmingham area, has some pretty elevation. When you combine this with the Redneck Riviera's beautiful beaches, you have a state that doesn't get nearly enough credit. Unspectacular Maybe If you're looking for some solace, however, you won't find a better option than the surrounding wilderness and the local cuisine.

Allegheny National Forest In the Allegheny National Forest Photos by Zack Frank/Shutterstock

As Number 35, Pennsylvania

It's known for its rolling hills and Amish buggies as well as its pleasant forests, which transform into brilliant shades of yellow, orange, and gold in the fall. It's a shame that Pennsylvania doesn't have more of a "wow" factor, given its massive size. It's a crowded eastern state with no beaches to offer as compensation. It has a nice chunk of the Appalachians, though not as impressive a chunk as its neighbors. And if you're not feeling up to going anywhere better, the Poconos are an option for skiing. However, if given the chance, you'd upgrade—just like with a lot of these other aspects.

Rhode Island Cliffs | Joseph Sohm/Shutterstock.comTrail Along a Cliff | Joseph Sohm/

A. 34. Rhode Island

Rhode Island, despite its small size, manages to do quite well for itself on average. Many people like to make fun of the fact that so much of the state is taken up by beaches, and they're not far off the mark; Block Island has some beautiful ones, and the sea cliffs/bluffs in both Block Island and Newport contribute to the state's unique nautical appeal. But the odds are stacked against it; Rhode Island is too small to support anything truly grand beyond the Breakers. What a pity that Mother Nature didn't create them!

Georgia trees Plantation of Wormsloe Image: ESB Professional/Shutterstock

Finally, we have at number 33: Georgia

Seeing gas prices drop by $1 per gallon as you drive across the Georgia state line from Florida is the most breathtaking sight you'll ever see. Past that Not much to see here. The mountains north of Atlanta are the state's most beautiful natural feature, even surpassing the charming Southern charm of Spanish moss-draped trees and undeveloped beaches in the south. Which, after driving through Florida, look absolutely colossal, but pale in comparison to the Smokies or the Appalachians just a few hours away.

New Hampshire The White Mountains Credit: Richard Cavalli/Shutterstock

32.1 New Hampshire

If we're being completely forthright, New Hampshire's most magnificent landmark, the Old Man of the Mountain, was destroyed a few decades ago. For the record, we have not moved on from this. Nonetheless, it maintains a relatively high profile thanks to the grand Presidential Range of the White Mountains, dramatically carved flume gorges, notches, large lakes like Winnipesaukee, and vast valleys of farmland near the Canadian border. It's too bad the southern part of the state looks so much like Connecticut's suburbs, only without as many bars.

sun setting over a farm in Kentucky The name "bluegrass" comes from the popular misconception that the grass in Kentucky actually glimmers and sparkles azure. | Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock(Photo credit: Alexey Stiop/Shutterstock

The 31st state, Kentucky

Culturally, this state can't make up its mind whether it belongs in the Midwest, the South, or Appalachia. It doesn't care where you put it on a map because it has the best features of every region: the pocky hollers and mountain views in the east, Mammoth Cave, which stretches for 400 miles, and an abundance of rolling, grassy hills. Off in the distance, you can still find family tobacco farms, but what really sets this area apart is the harmonious coexistence of horses and bright pastures. Some locals claim to have seen a bluish sheen on the grass, hence the name "bluegrass." No matter the hue, you can't help but gaze in awe.

palm tree near the beach The beaches of South Carolina are among the state's most prized assets. | John Scafide/UnsplashPhoto by John Scafide on Unsplash

The 30th-ranked state is South Carolina.

The city of Charleston, South Carolina, is arguably the state's most photogenic and visited destination. Mountain Bridge Wilderness Area, home to the 420-foot Raven Cliff Falls in Caesars Head State Park and some of the best scenic overlooks in the South, is the highlight of the state because this is a ranking of natural beauty and not charming colonial architecture. Additionally, the coastal beaches are nice and relaxing, and a drive through the low country under a grove of moss-covered live oaks is hard to beat on a sunny day.

Maryland seaside grasses Shutterstock/West Coast Scapes

Place #29: Maryland

Maryland has all the characteristics of a great state's landscape, so it's hard to find fault with it. The mountains to the west are almost like an extension of West Virginia, with their lush green hills and vibrant autumn colors. With 600 miles of coastline along the Atlantic and Chesapeake Bay's tributaries, Maryland has nearly twice as much coastline as Texas does along the Gulf of Mexico, and the pastoral farmland and vineyards along the eastern shore in Talbot County complete the idyllic picture.

Massachusetts Geographical Name: Martha's Vineyard Stock Image by Gagliardi Images

At #28 on the list, we have the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Geographically speaking, the state of Massachusetts serves as the region's hub. The countries to the south are rather unremarkable, and those to the north are much more rugged (geographically and in terms of the grit and determination of their residents). The sunsets at Cape Cod National Seashore have long been a draw for artists, and the Berkshires and Pioneer Valley have some of the best autumn foliage in the United States. However, Massachusetts is home to Middlesex County, which, despite its moniker, has a comparatively low level of sexiness.

Arkansas Recreation Area at the Base of Mount Magazine Stock Image by Zack Frank

The 27th state is Arkansas.

Being a hermit kingdom has its advantages. You'll have to like swamps, pastures, rice fields, and the same fungible pine forests found in Mississippi and Georgia to enjoy the southeastern half of the state. However, if you travel north, you'll come across hills that hide caves, creeks, and gullies, and which every so often reveal a flat slab where you can slouch and take in the sunset (or, perhaps, a hot spring). Being one of the few significant rivers in the United States that has not been dammed, the Buffalo River holds the distinction of being the first national river. Also, the southwest's Ouachita Mountains wander on forever, punctuated by springs and tiny towns big enough to have gas stations from which one can stock up on supplies for a few days of floating or camping.

Nevada Canyon carved into the red rock images: popgallery/Shutterstock

26. Nevada

For the average person, Nevada is "Las Vegas plus the let's-floor-it portion of a road trip to California." The majority of this state is so dusty and unremarkable that the military once tested nuclear weapons here without much public outcry. But the highlights can be anything from astounding to incomprehensible. Just a short Uber ride from the Las Vegas Strip, Red Rock Canyon is a breathtaking oasis of striated limestone and sandstone. Traveling across I-80 is broken up by the beautiful Ruby Valley. Dr. Seuss's lab exploded in Valley of Fire State Park, which features whirling red and cream rock formations. Dr. Seuss drew them. Naturally, there's also Death Valley National Park and Lake Tahoe. Both are primarily located in the Golden State, but look on the bright side: you made it!

badlands of south dakota | Arlene Waller/ShutterstockImages of Badlands National Park by Arlene Waller / Shutterstock

The 25th-ranked state is South Dakota.

When looking at the top half of this list, you can see that the competition is fierce. It's obvious that you've never visited the most underrated state in America if you're scratching your head and wondering how on earth a freaking DAKOTA made it this far. That would be the entire Black Hills area, where you could spend the morning climbing Harney Peak (the highest peak between the Rockies and the Pyrenees) and the afternoon exploring Spearfish Canyon. Alternately, you could venture deeper into the Badlands, that misnamed Martian rockscape, where there is more vegetation and a wider range of colors to be found. Palisades State Park, outside Sioux Falls, has Split Rock Creek winding through 50-foot quartzite cliffs, proving that the state is not entirely flat. After visiting, you may wonder why it isn't more highly regarded.

Minnesota | Wildnerdpix/ShutterstockThe Lake of Gabamichigami | Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock

Number 24: Minnesota

It would be more appropriate to rebrand this state in the United States as "Canada Light." You can find some of the best fishing and canoeing in the upper prairie in the summer in the Boundary Waters, which is located along the North Shore's rugged lakeside cliffs lined with lighthouses and deep forests that conceal stellar hiking trails and waterfalls. Lake Superior's craggy shoreline provides yet another glimpse of the raw North American landscape, and the pocky glacial holes near Interstate State Park serve as a sobering reminder of just how far north you are.

Wisconsin | Bryan Neuswanger/ShutterstockThe Apostle Islands are a popular tourist destination, and rightfully so.

The 23rd-ranked state is Wisconsin.

The prairies and dairies are just the beginning. If you only explored the shores of Lakes Superior and Michigan, you'd have 800 miles to explore; the rest of the state is dotted with 15,000 more lakes. (That's right; it's more than the state of Minnesota's official number of lakes.) Unfortunately, Wisconsin does not have a single outstanding natural attraction that everyone must see. However, the Apostle Islands are unlike any other, and Door County is among the most pleasant places in the country to visit. The 1,200-mile Ice Age Trail stretches like a tapeworm across Wisconsin, connecting its many points of interest along the state's cliffs, forests, water, and the occasional natural stone bridge. You can use the glaciers' gifts to you, the lakes and boulders.

Big Bend National Park Texas | JB Manning/ShutterstockTexas' Big Bend Region, Seen Here in a Photo by JB Manning/Shutterstock

22. Texas

Big Bend National Park, with its extraordinary night skies and the sweeping desert beauty of West Texas beyond, the Hill Country in the spring, and the open lap of the American West stretching off to the horizon are just a few of Texas's must-see landmarks. What it lacks, however, is anything that can legitimately be called the best of its kind. The scenery in the west improves the further west you travel, the same is true for the east and the south, and the same is true for the north, where you won't find any good beaches. However, credit must be given to Texas. Everything you could possibly want to see is right here (save for snowy mountains), and once you get out of the cities, the roads here are just as wide and free as any others.

Great Falls Park | Jon Bilious/ShutterstockBeautiful Great Falls Park in Virginia | Stock Photo by Jon Bilious

Number Twenty-One: The Old Dominion

Even though you won't see any Corona commercials featuring the Hampton Roads area's beaches, you'll be missing out on some of the best and widest on the Eastern Seaboard and some of the least-appreciated scenery in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Central Virginia's vineyards and gentle hills are often cited as reasons for the state's "Virginia Is for Lovers" slogan. In addition, a drive along Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park is among the best in the United States for viewing autumn foliage.

Tennessee Park in the Great Smoky Mountains Shot by Nickolay Khoroshkov for Stock

State #20: Tennessee

From the highest point of the Delta in the western part of the state, across the hills and pastures of the central third, to the crescendo of mountain vistas that announce your arrival in the Smoky Mountains, the state just keeps getting better as you read it from left to right. You can pretty much pick any highway in this landlocked eastern state, turn off at the first state park sign you see, and feel like you've hit the scenic jackpot.

Blackwater Falls State Park | Jon Bilous/ShutterstockPhotos of Blackwater Falls from Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

Location: 19. West Virginia

And even if you don't intend to arrive there, you'll never forget the experience of passing through it. West Virginia's scenery is full of unbroken, rolling old hills and rivers spilling down limestone cliffs, making it a popular destination for base jumpers and other outdoor enthusiasts looking to take in the sights of America's newest national park. Kids from Maine to Missouri grew up scrambling through forest and rock in places like the Monongahela National Forest. One of the most underappreciated regions of the United States brings to mind the finest features of the Eastern Hemisphere.

Florida Bertl123/Shutterstock

State of Florida, Number Eighteen

Difficult choice when it comes to Florida, where flat swamplands were once the defining feature of the state but have since been dredged and hundreds of miles of artificial beaches have been built, which are then lined with ugly condos and big-name hotels full of Florida Men (and spring breakers). Still, we shouldn't discount the undeniable charm of places like Biscayne National Park's underwater paradise, the Keys' palm tree- and white-sand-lined waters, and Big Cypress National Preserve's pretty nice swamplands. If Florida would just clean up its act a little, it might be able to move up the rankings the next time.

Taughannock Falls Sunset In Full Fall Colors | Paul Massie Photography/ShutterstockA View of Taughannock Falls, New York, from Above | Photograph by Paul Massie / Shutterstock

17th New York

Too often, New York City serves as a stand-in for all of New York State. It's a shame, because the state's more remote regions rival those of any other in terms of biodiversity. To illustrate, New York is home to not one, but three oceans (Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and the Atlantic) and two major mountain systems (the Catskills and the Adirondacks). It lays claim to the entire Finger Lakes system, including Lake Champlain. In addition, the Canadian side of Niagara Falls is the more visually appealing half. Even though New York is fighting a never-ending battle for conservation, the state has done an impressive job of protecting its natural areas so that wild animals and people can enjoy them. The percentage of land that is owned by the government in the Empire State is higher than in any other state east of the Mississippi. In terms of the proportion of land that is owned by the state, it ranks first. Thank you, New York City's tax base) )

Idaho | J K Floyd/ShutterstockJ K Floyd / Shutterstock Sawtooth Lake

16. Idaho

Quick, in which states can you find Yellowstone? It's more common to think of Wyoming and Montana, but Idaho also has a number of national parks. The scenery in Idaho, one of the most beautiful states in the United States, is largely underrated. Mountain biking in the Sawtooth Mountains is among the best in the United States, and skiing in Coeur d'Alene is among the best in the world. And the Snake River, which flows through mountains and picturesque meadows, is the best way to take in the state's natural splendor.

Maine The Fort Williams Recreation Area Photograph: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock

15. Maine

Those who live in Maine are aware that their state has some of the best natural scenery in the Northeast, and they would prefer that you not venture beyond the Portland area in search of lobstah. In addition to possessing some of the most breathtaking coastline in America (with thousands of jagged islands offshore bringing the total mileage of pebbly beach to over 3,000), Maine’s got the gorgeous Acadia National Park, Mount Katahdin (the tip of the Appalachian Trail), and countless acres of dense wilderness and rugged seashore for the L L A bunch of Beans (that's kind of their thing up top).

a person standing on a distant sand dune The National Park of White Sands Written by Kalen Goodluck for Thrillist

Punctuation: 14 NM

In Breaking Bad, this state served as a visually stunning setting for the production of crystal meth. The desert landscape is stunning even when the rundown trailers are removed from the picture. New Mexico's red rock cliffs and sprawling mesas make the state's 375 miles of I-40 seem much shorter. The mountains of Taos in northern New Mexico make the region look more like Colorado than Arizona; traveling south, you'll encounter the dramatic Organ Mountains before reaching White Sands National Park, one of the most distinct and arresting pieces of earth in the lower 48.

Vermont DonLand/Shutterstock

Alas, we must move on to Number Thirteen:

Rolling green hills cover this sparsely populated state, and in and around each one can be found crystal-clear mountain streams, lakes, and quaint little towns. (Pray you don't come during peak autumn, when the red and gold leaves make the scenery almost unbearably beautiful.) From the Lake Champlain shore at sunset to the St. Lawrence River at dawn, there are many beautiful places to visit in Vermont. Johnsbury, Vermont, it would be difficult to find a town that didn't look like it was plucked straight from a picture book. Of course, it's the only New England state without a coastline, and no amount of Bernie Sanders or Ben & Jerry's can change that.

North Carolina In the Great Smoky Mountains, America's most visited national park Credit: Dave Allen/Shutterstock

No. 12: The Old North State

The East Coast's most stunning state It's hard to find fault with North Carolina, the rare eastern state where the landscape changes from beach to mountain as you travel from east to west. The Outer Banks are some of the best in the country for a relaxing beach vacation, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the best in the eastern United States as far as mountain scenery goes.

Montana glacier | Galyna Andrushko/ShutterstockPhotograph by Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

11) Montana

To describe this situation, the word "imposing" comes to mind. Montana, often referred to as a "brunch-menu version of Alaska," is home to some of the country's most breathtaking natural features, including the Rocky Mountains, Glacier, and Yellowstone national parks. The sky is not noticeably larger than it is elsewhere; rather, the defining features of the landscape are the mountain ranges that border the area. The open spaces, however, are plentiful. Only 1,000,000 people call this, the third largest state in the United States, home, compared to 38,000,000 in California and 27,000,000 in Texas. Montana is full of natural beauty, and you can probably claim a sizable portion of it for yourself.

Wyoming Park of the Grand Tetons I. | f11photo/Shutterstock

Location: #10 Wyoming

This is the point at which we begin listing the very best of the best In the top 25%, every single entry has at least one truly magnificent quality that could easily make the case for "best in the land."

The Grand Tetons, arguably America's most breathtaking landscape, are often overshadowed by their neighbor, Yellowstone National Park, due to Wyoming's abundance of natural splendor. You're missing out on Wyoming's otherworldly high plains outside of Laramie and Cheyenne, the eerie rocks of Vedauwoo, and the stunning Front Range mountains (the same ones you saw on your way to Denver) if you've only ever visited Jackson Hole and driven along Interstate 80. where you can see the brightest Milky Way views in the lower 48, the Wind River Range, and the Bighorn Mountains Not to mention the hundreds of thousands of elk, moose, bison, and pronghorn that roam the area, as well as Red Canyon and the Red Desert and Devils Tower. Light shimmers off of golden Aspen trees on an endless mountain prairie in Wyoming, but few people leave the Cowboy State to see it.

Monument Valley Arizona Ancient Valley of the Monuments | Paul B Moore/Shutterstock

9. Arizona

The Grand Canyon is the endpoint of a million American road trips, and the state of Arizona is a riot of desert oranges and fuchsias leading up to it. The afterlife of cowboys is definitively established to be in Monument Valley. Arizona's secondary attractions, such as the Superstition Mountains, the Petrified Forest, Lake Powell, and the regions near Flagstaff and Sedona, are enough to put the state in the top twenty in their own right. Also, the 560 foot deep meteor crater in Arizona is a sight to behold; like much of the state's landscape, it was literally brought here from another planet.

Michigan Lake Munising, Michigan | John McCormick/Shutterstock1 | John McCormick/Shutterstock

No. 8: Michigan

The two peninsulas, if considered separately, might have been near the top of this list. When you add up all of Michigan's coastline, which totals 3,288 miles, you get the most beautiful state east of the Mississippi. Look at how other Midwestern states fared to see how impressive Michigan's success really is. You could spend years exploring Michigan and still not see all of its good waters, which span from the pristine forests of the UP to the sandy beaches of Lake Michigan to the rocky coast of Lake Huron, with over 11,000 inland lakes in between.

Aerial view of the scenic Pacific Northwest coast, with ocean, sea stacks, sandy beach and forested mountains Sunset at Crescent Beach | cdrin/Shutterstock1 | cdrin/Shutterstock

7. Oregon

Transitioning from California and Nevada into the Pacific Northwest is as easy as crossing into Oregon. Beginning with a coastline that is just as rocky as northern California and a desert that is just as mild, the state is a lot like its Then it gently winds its way through the mountains into the lush forest of Oregon, making this the most beautiful stretch of the entire I-5. Cannon Beach and Seaside in the north are two of the best examples, and both feature the iconic Haystack Rock. Then there's Mount Hood, the sharp peak that is the most visually arresting landmark between Mount In addition to Whitney, Mt. Rainier Crater Lake, the wine country of the Willamette Valley, and the undulating Painted Hills in the vast, open east make Oregon a unique and beautiful state, deserving of comparison to any coastal gem or desert highlight.

Mt. Rainier paradise Mt Park of Mount Rainier stock image by Mike Peters

No. 6: The District of Columbia

Though the Columbia Center is impressive, it is not the sole reason why Seattle does not have the best skyline in the United States. The city's location, with a view of Mount Rainier to the south, is a major factor. Between Lake Washington and Puget Sound, and is dominated by Mount Rainier. Moreover, that's only one metropolis. As well as the winding Columbia River Gorge, Washington is home to the dramatic Cascades and the rainforested Olympic Mountains. If you want to experience a cruise through Alaska without venturing north of the 49th parallel, the San Juan Islands are your best bet. Furthermore, the Okanagan Valley in northern Eastern Washington is not the only place in the state with stunning desert landscapes.

Rocky Mountain Meadow Meadow in the Rockies Images: welcomia/Shutterstock

Rank: #5 Colorado

There must be a certain something about a state for it to be ranked among the most beautiful in the country. Not a problem for Colorado, where the impressive heights are sure to impress any visitor. Over 50 mountains in Colorado are over 14,000 feet in elevation, which is more than three times as many as the rest of the lower 48 states put together. Some of the world's most underrated beachfront can be found in this state, and it's located in the mountains, which are harder to access but no less amazing. The only downfall of Colorado is that its eastern two-thirds or so resemble a cut-down version of Nebraska. A trip from Denver to Telluride will show you the best of Colorado.

Arches National Park | Josemaria Toscano/ShutterstockPictures of Arches National Park by Josemaria Toscano/Shutterstock

4. Utah

Utah has more breathtaking scenery than any other landlocked state in the United States, which is saying a lot considering it has zero miles of coastline. Whether it's the world-famous sandstone arches and canyons of Moab or the bizarre formations in Goblin Valley, Utah is one of the few states that can be identified simply by looking at a photograph. The southerly half alone One of America's greatest geological wonders can be found in the Bonneville Salt Flats, and further north in Utah are mountains that rival any in the west for their powder snow. There may not be a better place to go on vacation if being outdoors is your number one priority.

Alaska Glacier Hubbard Stock Image by Luis Boucault

3. Alaska

You won't find a state whose natural beauty can compare to that of Alaska. The Kenai Fjords, the glaciers of the Inside Passage, the snowy peaks of Denali, and the vast tundra of the interior all contribute to Alaska's reputation as a rugged wilderness unlike any other in the United States. (The eight enormous national parks it contains speak for themselves, the largest of which is Gates of the Arctic among the country's 63 national parks. )

The fact that most of Alaska can't be reached by car adds to the adventure; visitors must instead rely on scenic boat tours, helicopter tours, and Northern Lights train rides to get around the state, and in doing so, they have a great chance of seeing whales, bears, sea lions, and other wildlife along the way. and many other species that are rarely seen anywhere but zoos While Alaska's land masses are the state's primary tourist attraction, the state also boasts a number of pleasant beach communities.

Panorama of the surf spot Makaha with the surfer riding the wave. Oahu, Hawaii Whenever you visit Oahu, you'll see that the weather is perfect. | Dudarev Mikhail/Shutterstock| Mikhail Dudarev/Shutterstock

2. Hawaii

The archipelago is the most spectacularly diverse and spectacular place you can visit without a passport, and perhaps even with one. The Hawaiian islands—seven larger islands, plus 130 smaller, uninhabited islets—hold such an array of landscapes because of their vast age gaps: for example, forested, canyoned Kauai is 6 million years older than the broad, dark, raw Big Island, which is still growing, fed by the glowing volcanic vent that birthed the lot Oahu, with its breathtaking beaches, jungles, and cliffs, constantly under attack by rainbows; Maui, a collection of vacation postcards that banded together to form an island; tourist-light Molokai, where some of the world's steepest cliffs plunge into deep blue oceans; and Lanai, with its quieter vibe and fewer people. which looks like a cross between a Caribbean island and Ireland You won't believe it until you're there, but Hawaii is one of the few places that, if anything, lives up to its perfect-10 reputation.

Yosemite | Phitha Tanpairoj/ShutterstockImage of Yosemite National Park by Phitha Tanpairoj / Shutterstock

The State of California

Indeed, there are problems with it. Swarms of them However, how many lovely things are there that Let's put aside global warming and gridlock for a second and focus on the fact that California is home to every imaginable form of natural beauty. In the south, you'll find pristine, natural beaches framed by dramatic cliffs. Continue onward into the inland Mojave Desert, where the landscapes resemble those of the moon. The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) and Big Sur are popular routes that take travelers from the Central Coast wine region up to San Francisco, a city whose unique charm stems from its cliffside locations and fog-kissed silhouette.

Let's not forget Yosemite, either. , Redwood National Park Or the National Park of Death Valley Or any of the numerous, underappreciated national parks Alternatively, the region encompassing the vineyards from northern California's Napa Valley to southern California's Temecula. We get it, not everyone is interested in California, but no other state can compare to it in terms of the sheer variety of its natural wonders. It's easy to see why early settlers to California thought the long journey was worthwhile, despite the obstacles they faced along the way.

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Acknowledgements: Matt Meltzer, Bison Messink, Sam Eifling, and Adam Lapetina contributed to the reporting of this story.

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