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America’s Most Naturally Beautiful States: Agree?

As an accomplished travel writer, I use research studies to shake my mind and let me compare my opinions. I may agree or not, but I usually learn and I am often surprised by the results and act upon them.

“Beauty” is subjective, and yet the following study is based on numbers and statistics rather than opinions, which I find interesting. The experts at Airport Parking Reservations examined a range of factors, including the number of mountains, natural lakes, and waterfalls, to reveal their list of the US’s 25 Most Naturally Beautiful States.

Washington, the Evergreen State, takes first place. The state has 3,132 waterfalls (!), the most of any state in the US. Washington’s western side is mountainous, the eastern parts have vastly different climates with arid deserts and semi-arid steppe.

In second place, with a beauty score of 8.64, is California. Despite being densely populated, the state has tremendous geographic diversity, with a beautiful coastline, vast redwood forests, snow-capped mountains, and even arid deserts. It’s home to some of the most famous scenic areas, such as Yosemite National Park, Lake Tahoe, and Mount Shasta, and the cliff-top Pacific coast adds even more beauty.

Alaska takes third place and because it is so vast and with so little population, it offers immense 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.

Further insights:

— Alaska has the most ‘Ultras’ (peaks at least 1,500 m), with a total of 64. With 8,008 named mountains, California accounts for almost 11% of the total number in the US.

— California has the most national parks: 9 out of 63 in the country.

— The state with the highest number of large natural lakes is Florida, with 30,000. The spring area in northern Florida is rated as the best in the world.

– Washington surprisingly has the most beaches in the US: 1,368.

Below is the survey’s list of the top 25 most naturally beautiful states. How do you feel about it? (I’d put Utah higher on the list; the canyons there are so remarkable. And I’m happy to see Michigan at 14; northern Michigan is often overlooked as one of the most beautiful areas in the country. And which state is more beautiful than Vermont in the fall? But that seasonal event is not included in this study, and the state is not included in the list.)

You can use this list as a starting point and build your own list, not based on statistics but based on your own feelings and experiences. And maybe use this as an incentive to travel to beautiful places you haven’t enjoyed yet.

You can view the study in its entirety by clicking here.

(Cjust watch episodes #11, #16, #27, #32, #58, and #62 from my award winning travel podcast Places I remember with Lea Lane to learn about some of these beautiful states. On Apple, Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts from. Or on my website.)

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