Which US states have the most natural beauty?
The world is filled with natural beauty, from the otherworldly snow-laden landscapes of Iceland to the utopian sandy beaches of Australia. However, there is one country where you can find every extreme of natural beauty with landscapes for every preference and bucket list out there.
Whether you would rather see lush green parks, breathtaking mountains, or idyllic coastlines, you can find it all in the USA. From Alaska to Alabama, you can explore just about every climate and landscape as the country is packed with natural beauty.
Our experts at Airport Parking Reservations are interested in more than just affordable parking when you’re going on holiday. We wanted to help you find your next holiday destination by crowning the USA’s most naturally beautiful state. So whether you’re parking at Los Angeles International (LAX) or Orlando (MCO), you’ll know just how beautiful the surrounding landscapes are.
The USA’s most naturally beautiful states
Looking at a range of natural sites, from named mountains to national parks, we were able to give a score to each state to discover which is home to the most natural beauty.
1. Washington – 9.29 State Beauty Score
It’s no coincidence that Washington is known as the Evergreen State as it is home to forests of conifers as well as some of the only rainforests in the country. The western side of the state is mountainous with these lush green forests giving the area its distinctive look. However, venturing over the eastern parts of the state, you’ll find wildly different climates with arid deserts and semiarid steppe.
With an impressive 8,000 lakes, 3,167 named mountains, and 3,132 waterfalls, Washington is home to some of the most incredible natural beauty in the country, earning it the top spot in our ranking.
2. California – 8.64 State Beauty Score
California may be the most densely populated state in the US, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have plenty of space for natural beauty. With an immense amount of geographical diversity throughout the state, you’ll find miles of stunning coastline, sprawling forests, snow-capped mountains, and even dry deserts.
The state is home to some of the most famous natural sites, such as Yosemite National Park, the Mojave Desert, Lake Tahoe, and Mount Shasta.
3. Alaska – 7.89 State Beauty Score
Venturing into the north of the country, Alaska takes the third position in our ranking. As the largest state by area but the third least populous state, Alaska has plenty of untouched natural beauty to appreciate. The state also includes a number of small islands, each with its own beauty and charm.
While the state has more than 3,000 large natural lakes, it is home to over 3 million lakes in total, giving visitors plenty of places to explore its natural beauty.
The state with the most ‘Ultras’
Alaska – 64 Ultras
With 64 Ultras in total, Alaska sits atop this peak. An Ultra is a mountain with an elevation of 1,500m or more, and the highest in Alaska is Denali, also known as Mount McKinley with an elevation of 6,190m. The snow-capped peak also takes the title of the highest mountain peak in North America and the third most prominent peak in the world.
The state with the most named mountains
California – 8,008 named mountains
With a huge 8,008 named mountains, accounting for nearly 11% of the country’s total, California takes the top spot in this list. Mount Whitney, otherwise known as Tumanguya, is the tallest of these with an elevation of 4,421m and a prominence of 3,071m.
The state with the most national parks
California – 9 national parks
With 63 national parks throughout the country, the USA boasts plenty of natural sites that are designated for their geological significance, but it is California that possesses the most.
California is home to some of the most famous and awe-inspiring national parks in the entire country. These include Death Valley National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, and Sequoia National Park, each one offering its own charm and character.
The state with the most waterfalls
Washington – 3,132 waterfalls
It’s no surprise to see our overall winner take the top spot in a category, and Washington certainly earns its place with 3,132 waterfalls. This is nearly double the number of waterfalls in Oregon which takes second place. The tallest of these waterfalls is Colonial Creek Falls in the North Cascades National Park. While there is no public access to the fall, you can view it from a distance and take in the tallest waterfall in the USA.
The state with the most large natural lakes
Florida – 30,000 large natural lakes
While many states have far more lakes in various forms, Florida is home to the most large natural lakes which each cover over 20 acres. Florida boasts 30,000 large natural lakes, but it is Lake Okeechobee that is the most impressive, covering 730 square miles or 1,900km², earning it the title of the largest freshwater lake in Florida and the eighth largest natural freshwater lake in the US.
The state with the most beaches
Washington – 1,368 beaches
Beaches are one of those natural beauty sites that you can enjoy like none other. The state which takes the top spot overall also claims the top spot for beaches. With 1,368 beaches, Washington has plenty of coastal beauty for visitors to enjoy.
Looking at all 50 states, we explored the numbers in each for the following factors:
- Ultras – peaks of at least 1,500m were sourced from Peak List
- Named mountains – taken from Peak Visor
- National parks – taken from National Park Trips
- Waterfalls – taken from the World Waterfall Database
- Large natural lakes – taken from Lake Near Me
- Beaches – taken from the EPA
Considering all of these factors, we then assigned a normalized score out of 10 for each before taking an average of all of these scores to give us our State Beauty Score out of 10.