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15 Most Beautiful States in the US & Why they made the list

It wasn’t easy to write this post. I started with 25 states but then it seemed like if I was going to nominate roughly 50% of American states as the most beautiful states in the US I really wasn’t making the hard choices.

I also wanted to share with you what makes these the most beautiful states in the US. Specifically, what are the places – lakes, UNESCO world heritage sites, national parks, man-made creations etc – that make these states so very beautiful. Hopefully, this will help you decide if these beautiful states have earned a position in your travel bucket list ideas.

15 Most Beautiful States in the US

1. Utah

If you like red rocks and sandstone against blazing blue skies then Utah is the state for you. Home to some of the most magnificent and unique national parks in the United States, Utah is filled with beautiful places that you won’t forget.

zion national park utah
zion national park utah

Bryce Canyon – home to the hoodoos! Hoodoos are quirky rock formats that have been created by weathering and erosion. The combination of this provides unique rock formations. Plus Bryce Canyon is even beautiful at night. As there is very little local light you’ll get some phenomenal starry skies.

bryce canyon utah
bryce canyon utah

Arches National Park – home to over 2,000 natural stone arches plus some other attractive rock formations. More rich red stone and lots of bright blue sky.

Red Cliffs – 45,000 acres of red sandstone cliffs that often tower against the blue sky.

Zion National Park – Utah’s first national park, this park is filled with multi-colored sandstone cliffs and some desert wildlife.

zion national park utah
zion national park utah

Buckskin Gulch – the world’s longest slot canyon, Buckskin Gulch is full of narrow and twisting corridors of red stone.

Canyonlands National Park – rock formats and canyons made from the Colorado River over millions of years.

Dead Horse Point – a collection of lookout points around part of the Colorado River. This site was originally used by cowboys as a corral. Unfortunately, the poor horses often died from exposure thus the name.

Luckily, this is no longer the case today where it just offers amazing views over the Colorado River and the Canyonlands. And this is where the final scenes were shot for the film “Thelma and Louise”.

Toquerville Falls, LaVerkin Creek – multiple crystal clear waterfalls against deep red sandstone ledges. LaVerkin creek isn’t far from Zion National Park so head here for a swim after a dusty day of hiking or on horseback.

Lake Powell – a man-made reservoir that has over 2 million visitors a year. This incredible blue lake is the perfect contrast to the red sandstone. Rainbow Bridge National Monument is nearby.

bryce canyon utah
bryce canyon utah

2. Tennessee

Home to the most visited national park in the United States, the biggest underground lake in the United States and the largest man-made crystal cave in the world – Tennessee is full of beautiful wonders.

smoky mountain national park tennessee
smoky mountain national park tennessee

Big South Fork – 200 square miles of natural bridges and arches, hiking trails and campgrounds along the border of Tennessee and Kentucky

Fall Creek Falls – 256 foot tall falls that are the tallest free-fall waterfall east of the Mississippi. Most impressive from the base of the falls if you’re willing to do the hike.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park – the most visited national park in the United States has more than 10 million tourists each year. This national park has more than a thousand square miles of mountain ranges and forest. There are loads of scenic outlook points to check out the fog-shrouded peaks that gave this national park its name.

Cherohala Skyway – a 43-mile scenic drive. This highway connects Tennessee with North Carolina and offers some amazing views of Unicoi Mountains and the Cherokee and Nantahala forests.

Lover’s Leap – on a clear day you can see Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina from Lover’s Leap. Lover’s Leap is part of Lookout Mountain and you’ll need to cross the Swing-A-Long bridge to get to the view.

Rock Island State Park – Great Falls Gorge is one of the main attractions of this park as well as Twin Falls, a cascading waterfall that comes from an underground cavern.

Hurricane Mills – originally the home of Loretta Lynn this beautiful ranch is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tennessee.

Cade’s Cove – this isolated valley has more than 2 million visitors a year. A trip around Cade’s Cove takes between two and four hours by car or hop on a bike.

Reelfoot Lake – the only major natural lake in Tennessee, this lake was formed from a series of earthquakes between 1811 and 1812. The area is known for bald cypress trees and loads of birds and fish.

nashville tennessee

The Lost Sea – the largest underground lake in the US. Stalactites, stalagmites and all things crystal can be spotted on a glass-bottom boat tour called The Lost Sea Adventure.

Crystal Shrine Grotto – the largest man-made crystal cavern in the world. Created in the 1930s by artist Dionicio Rodriguez, the shrine retells scenes from the Bible.

cades cove tennessee most beautiful states in the us
cades cove tennessee

3. New York State

So many waterfalls, an amazing six-story castle, great gardens, and the Adirondacks – it’s all in New York State.

whiteface mountain new york state
whiteface mountain new york state

Panama Rocks Scenic Park – dating back to 1855, this park features otherworldly rock formations.

Green Lake – one of only twelve meromictic lakes in the world, this lake is always a crystal clear vibrant green colour.

Whiteface Mountain – 5th tallest of New York’s 46 peaks, Whiteface mountain offers views of Lake Placid and the Adirondack’s High Peak Region

Chittenango Falls State Park – home to 160 feet tall Chittenango Falls. An easy hike will take you to the base of the falls and some stunning views.

Letchworth State Park – on the Genesee River, this park has three major waterfalls and loads of smaller waterfalls throughout the park.

Storm King Art Centre – 500 acres of beautiful outdoor art and sculptures.

Sonnenberg Gardens – at the northern end of Canandaigua Lake, this 50-acre property has a lovely historic home and stunning gardens. And it’s in the middle of the Finger Lakes wine region.

Boldt Castle – a beautiful six-storey castle with stained glass windows with a heart-shaped garden arrangement.

Skaneateles Lake – one of the bodies of water that makes up the Finger Lakes region, Skaneateles Lake is known for having some of the clearest and bluest water in New york. Great views, boat cruises, waterfront restaurants and more.

Castle Rock – located in Blue Mountain Lake, Castle Rock is 700 feet high and offers some amazing views. The mile and a half walk up Castle Rock Trail end with great views of Blue Mountain Lake.

chittenango falls new york
chittenango falls new york

4. Florida

Florida has an amazing 1,200 miles of coastline as well as loads of national parks and of course the Florida Keys.

flamingoes in Everglades National Park Florida
flamingoes in Everglades National Park Florida

Boneyard Beach – located on Big Talbot Island about 20 miles east of Jacksonville Florida, this beautiful beach has skeletons of oak and cedar trees along its shore.

boneyard beach florida
boneyard beach florida

St Bernard de Clairvaux Church (Ancient Spanish Monastery) – this beautiful monastery in Miami was originally built in Northern Spain between 1133 and 1141 AD. William Hearst purchased the monastery and had it dismantled and shipped to Florida – literally stone by stone. They were reassembled in the 1950s and it is a historical place in Florida.

Dry Tortugas National Park – 70 miles from Key West, this national park consists of seven islands, blue waters and Fort Jefferson.

Dry Tortugas National Park florida
Dry Tortugas National Park florida

Everglades National Park – the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. Crocodiles, manatees, cypress swamps, wet prairies and more.

Everglades airboat

Blowing Rocks Preserve – located over 73 acres on Jupiter Island this preserve has a beautiful limestone shoreline. Plumes of water shoot up to 50 feet in the air at high tide and during storms.

Overseas Highway – 113 miles literally overseas, this highway connects mainland Florida to the Keys.

Ocean Drive – this famous street in Miami is full of beautiful coloured art deco buildings.

Vizcaya Museums & Gardens – Italy comes to Miami’s Biscayne Bay with an Italian renaissance garden, lots of limestone and 34 rooms.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

St Augustine – colonial architecture and some iconic structures give St Augustine one of the most memorable skylines in Florida. Plus cobblestone narrow streets and more Spanish colonial architecture make it a beautiful city to visit.

St Augustine Florida at Sunset
St Augustine

Amelia Island – a seaport village that was once filled with pirates, this island is now all about perfect beaches and historic sites.

Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island
Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island

5. California

Where do you start with California? This iconic US state is often seen as the ultimate paradise – home to wonderful weather, stunning beaches, amazing coastal drives, delicious wine regions and a couple of the top national parks in the USA California has it all.

Sunset at Griffith Observatory

Lake Tahoe – one of the largest Alpine lakes in the USA, this freshwater lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains has one of the clearest bodies of water in the world. Hike the Tahoe Rim Trail for the best views of Lake Tahoe.

lake tahoe
lake tahoe

Napa Valley – more than 400 wineries are located in the rolling hills of California’s best-known wine region. Loads of cute towns from downtown Napa to Calistoga as well as some fantastic accommodation like Solage Spa. One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of the Napa Valley is through a hot air balloon ride.


Santa Barbara – three major beaches, loads of hiking trails, Mediterranean oceanfront villas on its beautiful coastline and an atmospheric downtown.

Old mission santa barbara
Old mission santa barbara

Cypress Tree Tunnel – located between Tomales Bay and the Pacific Ocean, this road is called a tree tunnel due to the branches that cross over at the top

Griffith Observatory and Park – for one of the best sunsets in California head to Griffith Observatory. Enjoy its lovely planetarium as well as its 4,107-acre park that provides loads of fantastic views over the Hollywood sign and Los Angeles.

griffiths observatory los angeles
griffiths observatory

Death Valley National Park – home to the lowest elevation point in North America, this is an incredibly scenic national park. Head to Zabriskie Point for some of the best views.

death valley
death valley

Big Sur – the 90 mile Pacific Coast Highway is one of the best road trips in the world.

big sur
big sur

Yosemite National Park – located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this wonderful national park offers fantastic waterfalls, giant sequoia trees, beautiful lakes, and some jaw-dropping look-out points.

yosemite in october

If you’re stuck on time visit Yosemite in one day or much better take more time out to experience this national park – Yosemite in October is particularly fantastic.

The stunning Yosemite Valley

Joshua Tree National Park – legend has it that the iconic Joshua trees were named by Mormon travelers after the biblical character. Heaven for rock climbers – and don’t miss the lookout Keys View.

joshua tree park
joshua tree park

Golden Gate Bridge – one of the top landmarks in the US, this beautiful American bridge in San Francisco is very much world-famous. The best way to experience the Golden Gate Bridge is to hire a bike from Fisherman’s Wharf and cycle over it to Sausalito.

Have some lunch and then head back to Fisherman’s Wharf on the ferry. This is one of the best things to do in the Bay Area.

san francisco sunset golden gate bridge
The stunning Yosemite Valley

6. Arizona

Home to not just the Grand Canyon but enough natural and man-made attractions to be a country on its own that you would want to visit – here are some of the most beautiful places in Arizona.

sunset on rocks in sedona

Saguaro National Park – names for the fantastic giant Saguaro cactus that are located throughout this park, there are 150 miles of hiking trails. This park covers more than 91,000 acres and three-quarters of it is a designated wilderness. This is a highlight of any visit to lovely Tucson.

saguaro national park east
saguaro national park east

Havasu Creek – a tiny trickle that then runs for 50 miles before entering the Cataract Canyon, this creek is famous for its blue-green water. The beautiful colour comes from the high levels of calcium carbonate in the water, created from the limestone around it.

havasu falls
havasu falls

Horseshoe Bend – located near Page, Horshoe Bend is an awe-inspiring Arizona landmark. It is literally a bend in the Colorado River through the canyon. The Colorado River is a blue/green color at Horseshoe bend. Contrasted with the deep red of the canyon rocks it makes for a stunning scene.

horseshoe bend
horseshoe bend

Monument Valley – this desert landscape features sandstone buttes up to 300 meters tall and has a slightly surreal appearance. The rocks are surrounded by many miles of shrubs, sand, mesas, and buttes. These all make for some spectacular colors. Many may recognize the iconic Monument Valley from the movie Forrest Gump.

monument valley
monument valley

Hoover Dam – an awe-inspiring site as well as being very beautiful, this dam provides the power for the states of California, Nevada, and Arizona and receives over 1 million visitors a year.

things to do in vegas other than gamble
The amazing Hoover Dam

Lake Mead National Recreation Area – a huge lake with thousands of animals and plants, this is a very popular spot for all kinds of recreational activities.

Sonoran Desert – this is the hottest desert in North America but manages to maintain plant life over its 100,00 square miles as it also has a high level of rainfall.

Sedona – this delightful town is filled with spas and art galleries and surrounded by 1.8 million acres of national forest land. Don’t miss the sunset in Sedona.

airport view seonda sunset
airport view in Sedona

The Grand Canyon – what can you say about the biggest canyon in the world? It is genuinely awesome. Millions of years of geological history are in this park plus so many beautiful hikes walks, climbs, and amazing views.

grand canyon
grand canyon

Antelope Canyon – this slot canyon has two separate sections which are both extremely scenic – Upper Antelope Canyon (The Crack) and Lower Antelope Canyon (The Corkscrew). Unforgettable.

antelope canyon

Cathedral Rock – a natural sandstone butte that sits on the Sedona skyline and is one of the most scenic hikes in the US. The 1.5-mile round trip can be steep in places and does require some climbing but the views are more than worth it.

Vermilion Cliff National Monument – located in northern Coconino county, drive by the US Highway 89A between Jacob Lake and Marble Canyon to reach this monument. Hike and explore – there are loads of great sights like White Pocket, Navajo Bridge, the Wave and more.

Grand Falls Navajo – also known as the Chocolate Falls due to the color of its water, this natural waterfall is about 30 miles from Flagstaff. These falls are said to be taller than Niagara Falls at 185 feet.

Cathedral Rock
Cathedral Rock

7. Oregon

Ancient forests, roaring rivers, peaceful lakes, iconic mountains – Oregon has it all.

crater lake oregon
crater lake oregon

Columbia River Waterfalls – only a 30-minute drive from Portland, there are 10 extremely scenic waterfalls off Columbia River. The most well-known is Multnomah Falls which is 620 feet high and sits on a cliff face.

Crater Lake – six miles in length and five miles wide, this beautiful lake has a little island right in the middle which has grown woods and makes this area ridiculously scenic. This is the deepest lake in the United States and has some of the purest water in the world.

Owyhee Canyonlands – canyons, rivers, hills, terraced cliffs, red rock canyons and so much more in an area that is perfect for hiking, rock climbing and rafting. This is also one of the most remote areas of Oregon so you’ll also see some stunning stars at night.

Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm – the Willamette Valley is home to forty acres of perfectly arranged tulips. The annual Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival takes place every spring on a farm near Woodburn.

Williamette Wine Valley – stretching over 150 miles, this area is the heart of the Oregon wine industry and has more than 500 wineries. The area is known for its pinot noir as well as picturesque rolling hills.

Oregon Dunes – running for 40 miles along the Oregon coastline, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area is home to beautiful white sand dunes that can stand as high as 500 feet. There are small lakes and lagoons throughout the dunes so you can kayak and swim as well as sandboard and drive around on dune buggies.

Three Sisters Wilderness – this area is named after the three of the most iconic mountains in the Cascades Range. The North, Middle and South Sisters rise over 10,000 feet up from the land and are best seen from the top of Mckenzie Pass.

Boardman Tree Farm – this 25,000-acre farm is about 2 1/2 hours from Portland. It offers row upon row of perfectly-aligned poplar trees. Best visited in the fall.

oregon sand dunes
oregon sand dunes

8. Washington State

157 miles of shoreline, millions of acres of forest, the Cascades, Mount Rainier – Washington is bursting with beautiful places.

palouse falls washington state
Palouse falls Washington state

Snoqualmie Falls – Remember Twin Peaks? That was Snoqualmie Falls. This 270 feet high waterfall receives over 1.5 million visitors every year. The park is free and make sure you check out the falls from both the lower and the upper observation decks.

Rialto Beach – take the Hole in the Wall hike along the coast and don’t miss Rialto Bridges’ famous rock arch which is surrounded by picturesque tide pools.

Skagit Valley Tulip Fields – for the entire month of April, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is home to millions of tulips. If it isn’t April the valley is still a beautiful drive.

Tipsoo Lake – a stunning lake that on the right day offers a perfect reflection of Mount Rainier.

Paradise – located on the south slopes of Mount Rainier, Paradise is a wildflower meadow. July is peak season but it is open all year round. Some of the most popular hikes around Mount Rainier will take you through Paradise.

Diablo Lake Overlook – Diablo Lake is an extraordinary shade of turquoise. This comes from glacial dust from the nearby glaciers. Take the path up to Diablo Lake Overlook to get an amazing view of the lake and the surrounding area.

Palouse Falls – the official waterfall of Washington State. This is the last remaining waterfall caused by glacial floods which date back to the last Ice Age. Take the one-mile hike to the base of these 198 feet tall waterfalls or see the top from the parking lot.

Dungeness Spit – this is a sand spit – a spit means that it juts out. Dungeness Spit comes out from the Olympic Peninsula into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This is the longest sand spit in the United States. And it grows every year by about 15 feet.

Cape Flattery – the north-westernmost point of the United States. Take a short hike along a boardwalk and take in the stunning views.

skagit valley tulips washington
skagit valley tulips washington

9. Colorado

Snow capped mountains, natural hot springs, waterfalls – Colorado has it all and more.

garden of the gods colorado
garden of the god’s colorado

The Garden of the Gods – towering rock formations are perched along a fault line in this 1,367-acre park. There are towers, boulders, rocks, and spires all throughout this park. Nearby is the 500 million-year-old Cave of the Winds for more photo opportunities.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison – the cliffs of the black canyon have been formed over millions of years by the Gunnison River. These granite cliffs reach over 2,000 feet and are often in the shade – thus the name.

Mesa Verde National Park – home to some of the best-preserved ancestral Pueblo sites in the United States. See cliff dwellings built into the sides of steep mountainsides and underground circular rooms made out of stone called kivas. A UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Great Sand Dunes National Park – 30 square miles of sand dunes that are up to 750 feet high. Thousands of years of wind sweeping dust across the San Luis Valley created these majestic dunes.

Maroon Bells – Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak in the Elk Mountains are the most photographed peaks in North America – this is what you envisaged in your mind when you first thought of Colorado.

Rocky Mountain National Park – 355 miles of hiking trails, endless vistas, and loads more are on offer in one of the most popular national parks in the United States.

rocky mountains national park colorado
rocky mountains national park colorado

Roxborough States Park – 300 million-year-old sandstone formations explode from the earth. Good trails for beginners and you may even get to see some wildlife.

Telluride – one of the most stunning mountain towns in the world, the combination of a historic downtown and mountain backdrop makes for one big photo opportunity. Use the free ski gondola to get around all year long.

Red Rocks Amphitheatre – only 16 miles from Denver, this amphitheatre is carved out of ancient sandstone monoliths and is home to some of the biggest live events in Colorado as well as being a national park

maroon peaks colorado
maroon peaks colorado

10. West Virginia

seneca rocks west virginia
Seneca rocks west Virginia

Beartown State Park – named for the crevices and caves in the rocks throughout this state park. Locals thought they would be great for bears. Take the wooden walkway through the rock formations.

Blackwater Falls State Park – one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia. The falls cover 60 feet and then rush into an eight-mile-long gorge.

Spruce Knob – the highest elevation in West Virginia provides some fantastic views. Enjoy the “flagged trees” – this is the name for trees that have lost all of their branches but are just on the windy side.

Seneca Rocks – extremely popular for rock climbing and hiking. The rocks are made of white/grey Tuscarora quartzite which rises up nearly 900 feet above North Fork River. Elevations range from 1,000 to 4,863 feet.

Bissonnette Gardens – 16 acres of award-winning gardens that are best visited between April and October.

Summersville Lake – this 26,000-acre lake is the largest in West Virginia.

New River Gorge – whitewater rafting, mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, skiing, fishing – they are all on offer in New River Gorge. The New River Gorge National River covers 53 miles of the New River.

Babcock State Park – home to a cute grist mill and 4,127 acres of woodlands.

blackwater falls west virginia
blackwater falls west virginia

11. Rhode Island

Rhode Island may be a small state but it has everything from quaint lighthouses to ornate homes plus the Eastern seaboard.

pomham rocks lighthouse rhode island
Popham rocks lighthouse Rhode island

Castle Hill Lighthouse – a solid and stylish lighthouse nestled in craggy granite rocks. Best appreciated at sunset.

The Breakers – the summer cottage of the wealthy Vanderbilt family, this is the most widely visited mansion in the state.

The Cliff Walk – a 3.5-mile walkway along the shoreline that provides fantastic sea views often complemented by some of Newport’s mansions.

Beavertail State Park – more stunning views over the Rhode Island coastline plus hiking trails, tide pools and a lighthouse.

Benefit Street in Providence – colonial houses in pretty colors on a street with iron lamp posts that overlook the waterfront.

Taylor Point Park – 25 acres with clamming, fishing and swimming plus great sunset views.

Newport Town Centre – filled with colorful and cute buildings as well as super-cute restaurants and inns – plus the opportunity to spot some seals.

Point Judith Light – the two-toned Point Judith light has not just a super cute lighthouse but two other matching buildings which will all nestle into one photograph.

Pomham Rocks Lighthouse – sits on a tiny island all of its own in eastern Providence. First lit in 1871 and restored in 2018.

Prospect Terrace Park – this little park sits in the College Hill area of Providence. Great views of downtown Providence particularly at sunset.

point judith light rhode island
point judith light rhode island

12. New Mexico

white sands new mexico
white sands new mexico

Ghost Ranch – 21,000 acres of rock walls, red and yellow cliffs, vivid colors, and big skies. This was where Georgia O’Keeffe lived.

Valles Caldera – 89,000-acre national preserve is in one of the three supervolcanoes in the United States. High mountain valleys, large elk, and loads of nature to explore.

Tent Rocks – cone-shaped rock formations that were created by volcanic eruptions about 7 million years ago.

White Sands – white dunes cover 275 square miles of pure white sand.

Dark Skies – contrast those white sands with the amazingly clear skies of New Mexico once the sun goes down.

Santa Fe
Santa Fe

Taos Gorge – the Taos Gorge Bridge is the 5th highest in the United States. This bridge is 650 feet above the Rio Grande river which makes for some great photos.

Blue Hole – a natural, bell-shaped 80 feet deep pool with a constant water temperature of 61 degrees. Crystal clear waters make this the scuba diving capital of the southwest of the United States.

Brazos Cliffs – sheer granite walls which rise over 2000 feet above the Chama River. This is some of the oldest rock in New Mexico and is best seen at sunset.

Shiprock – Shiprock Peak rises 1,583 feet above the desert plains on the Navajo Nation in the Four Corners region. Can be seen from 50 miles in any direction.

shiprock new mexico
Shiprock new Mexico

13. South Carolina

angels oak st johns south carolina
angels oak st johns south Carolina

Hilton Head Island – 12 miles of beach, this island was named after Captain William Hilton. It is now a popular holiday destination and paradise for golfers.

Cypress Gardens – a mix of swamps and gardens filled with cypress trees. Follow the walking paths or head out on the swamp in a flat-bottomed boat. And there is a Butterfly House.

Lee Falls – 75 feet high, this is one of the highest waterfalls in the South of the United States. The one to two-hour walk to the falls can be accessed between March and October if the weather is good.

charleston south carolina waterfront

Swan Lake – the name makes a lot of sense when you find out that this lake is home to eight species of swan – and that this is the only place in the United States where all eight swan species can be seen in their natural habitat. Known for its amazing sunsets and the Japanese Iris which bloom in May and June.

Johns Island – the biggest island in the state with the 1,500-year-old Angel Oak Tree. Loads of species of birds live on the island plus other wildlife including dolphins in the surrounding waters.

The Battery – Charleston is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States and The Battery is one of its oldest landmarks. The Battery is lined with beautiful antique homes and has fantastic views across the coast of South Carolina.

Charleston South Carolina
Charleston, South Carolina

Caesars Head State Park – named for the rock formation which dominates the park, and also well known for the two-mile Raven Cliff Falls Trail. See the 420 foot Raven Cliff Falls from one of two overlooks on the suspension bridge.

hilton head island south carolina
hilton head island south carolina

14. North Carolina

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse north carolina
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse north carolina

Mount Mitchell State Park – the highest point in the East of the United States, Mount Mitchell’s summit is 6,684 feet high. Once you reach the top, on a clear day the visibility can be as far as 85 miles. If you’re not up for summiting there are seven hiking trails as well.

Cape Hatters National Seashore – this seashore stretches from Bodie Island to Ocracoke Island. In between the two islands are pristine beaches, iconic structures, and marshes with lots of wildlife. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse is the tallest brick lighthouse in the United States.

Cape Lookout National Seashore – climb the 207 steps to the top of Cape Lookout Lighthouse and be rewarded with some fantastic coastal views. This area and its waters are home to four species of sea turtles, more than 250 species of birds, and even a herd of wild horses.

Chimney Rock State Park – climb the 26 stories of stairs that are the Outcroppings Trail to enjoy views of Hickory Nut Gorge, Lake Lure, and the Piedmont region. The Skyline Trail will bring you to the highest peak in the point, Exclamation Point. Chimney Rocks Mountain is the iconic centerpiece of the park.

Lake Lure – might look familiar as some of the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed in the area. Don’t miss the Lake Lure Flowering Bridge.

Nags Head – fantastic beaches and Jockey’s Ridge State Park. The park is home to the tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States.

Merchants Millpond State Park – large cypress swamps that often feature alligators, this is a great area for fishing, biking and hiking.

Kitty Hawk – not only where the Wright Brothers made their first controlled powered airplane flight, but also a 461 acre maritime forest reserve (Kitty Hawk Wood) and a small beach community.

Blue Ridge Mountains – the Shenandoah National Park and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park are both within the Blue Ridge province. And drop into the Altapass Orchard whilst you’re there.

chimney rock state park north carolina
chimney rock state park north carolina

15. Alaska

One of the world’s last true frontiers, Alaska is a mix of glistening glaciers and crystal clear lakes where wild animals still roam.

Mendenhall Glacier alaska
Mendenhall Glacier Alaska

The Alaska Highway – this incredibly scenic highway was built during World War 2 to connect the United States and Alaska. Now, 2,232 kilometres long it passes through Canada and some amazing wilderness scenery.

Mendenhall Glacier – this glacier is located in Mendenhall Valley and is about 21.9 kilometres long. It is in a region known as the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area.

Denali National Park and Preserve – home to North America’s tallest peak, Mount McKinley. This park covers 6 million acres and is home to glaciers, tundra, forests, and a lot of well-known wildlife species.

Gates of the Arctic National Park – the second largest park in the US and located entirely in the northern part of the Arctic Circle. There are no proper approach roads so it isn’t easy to visit.

Lake Clark National Park – famous for its crystal clear turquoise lake, craggy mountains, and volcano steam.

Glacier Bay National Park – a UNESCO world heritage site, this park covers 3.3 million acres and contains fjords, rainforests, glaciers, wild coastlines, and magnificent mountains.

Kenai Fjords National Park – located on the Kenai Peninsula, this park is known for its fjord and rainforest ecosystems, wildlife, and the Harding Ice Field.

Prince of Wales Island – the 4th largest island in the US and known for its bear viewing.

Baranof Island – another wildlife haven, this island is home to brown bears and Sitka deer. The island is home to the highest mountain the Alexander Archipelago as well as Sitka National Historic Park, Fortress of the Bear, Baranof Castle, and more.

Wrangell – St Elias National Park – some of the largest volcanoes and the greatest concentration of glaciers in North America, this park is six times the size of Yellowstone.

Tangle Lakes – a chain of lakes in the interior of Alaska that is connected by several streams.

Denali National Park and Preserve alaska
Denali National Park and Preserve alaska

Are these the right fifteen states or have I missed some? Or should this article cover 20 states? Let me know your view in the comments.

This most beautiful states in the US post includes affiliate links. That means if you click through and end up making a purchase I will receive a small commission. I wanted to make sure you were aware of this.

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Robert Brady

Sunday 10th of September 2023

Pennsylvania. The forests, mountains, foothills, and the beautiful land of Lancaster County. The best place of all is Jim Thorpe. Second best Cameron County (unfortunately the poorest county in Pennsylvania!)


Tuesday 6th of December 2022

All wrong. No place on earth comes near the beauty of Alaska. There's a lot more than the icy picture that you showed. That doesn't even scratch the surface.

Annette Sirica

Monday 22nd of August 2022

Northern Michigan is stunning. Sleeping Bear Dunes, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the small towns along Lakes Huron, Michigan and Superior for starters.


Sunday 17th of July 2022

Utah number 1?? It’s a pretty state, but I would put Colorado and California above it.

Amanda OBrien

Monday 1st of August 2022

Hi Jacob - the states aren't in any particular order. cheers Amanda

Jo Chaffin

Monday 16th of May 2022

Guess you’ve never been to Maine

Amanda OBrien

Tuesday 31st of May 2022

We will be loooking at if for the next edition of this article. thanks amanda

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