Ranking the Most Beautiful States in America

Ranking the Most Beautiful States in America

Getaway Staff
Updated: Dec 19, 2020

From the majestic shores of the Pacific Ocean to the picturesque Atlantic coastline, the Hawaiian Islands, and the Alaskan wilderness, America is a treasure of natural wonders. It's almost impossible to narrow such diversely beautiful territories down to a top ten, although the states that make the cut are worthy of awe and praise. Every state in the Union has its appeal, but the most beautiful states in America stand out for their unique topography, famous natural phenomena, and memorable landscapes.


01California: the golden state shines

California's redwood groves are humbling GaryKavanagh / Getty Images

There's a lot to appreciate about California's distinct landscapes. Whether it's the sun-drenched beaches and cliffs along the Pacific Coast, the expansive deserts of the southwest, or the vibrant valleys and forests further north, The Golden State's appeal is unmatched. The Pacific Coast Highway breezes along California's spectacular shoreline from San Diego to Washington State, passing through magnificent Big Sur. A detour through Central and Northern California leads to wineries, giant redwood and sequoia groves, sprawling farmlands, semi-arid deserts, and snow-covered mountain ranges. Though California claims some of the largest cities in America, most of its impossibly gorgeous sceneries are pristine and protected lands.


02Alaska: the last, most stunning frontier

The inspiring Alaskan wilderness David Madison / Getty Images

To witness Alaska's wild beauty is a unique experience, with some of the most extreme and memorable landscapes in America. Snowcapped mountains give way to glacial lakes and fjords, dense woodlands, and rugged backcountry. Summer camping affords endless recreational opportunities with 24 hours of sunlight in some places, while the winter months are the perfect time to behold the northern lights. Alaska's greatest hits include Glacier Bay National Park and Denali National Park and Preserve, home to North America's tallest peak.


03Utah: a seasonal masterpiece

Utah has unique natural wonders TobinAkehurst / Getty Images

With its uniquely beautiful rock formations and picturesque canyons, Utah provides some of the most jaw-dropping skylines in America. Not to be outdone by Arizona's Grand Canyon, Utah's 13 distinct national parks are a medley of geological wonders, contrasting colors, and some of the darkest night skies in the country. The untamed and otherworldly landscapes are also home to a vast array of wildlife and plant species. Pristine lakes offer a cool reprieve during the summertime, while mountain towns like Park City are a charming winter destination.


04Hawaii: the exotic wonderland

Hawaiian waterfalls are gorgeous VisualCommunications / Getty Images

The Hawaiian Islands often stand out as a dream destination. From its famously dreamy tropical cliffs and waterfalls to the beautiful island culture, Hawaii is rife with breathtaking scenery. The islands abound with natural wonders, including hundreds of rare plant and animal species. The golden shores of Kauai are a welcome sight, rivaled only by the black sand beaches and legendary waves on Oahu's North Shore. Locals and visitors alike sip on locally-grown and roasted coffee in the shadows of an active volcano, fully embracing the island lifestyle.


05Colorado: picture-perfect scenery

The Garden of the Gods Sean Shapiro / Getty Images

Colorado's infinite mountain peaks and deeply carved canyons are famously appealing, but sprawling dunes and grassy plains add an unexpected edge to The Centennial State's beauty. Visitors can rock-climb stone formations, ride horseback on historic trails or tour the impressive cliff dwellings of ancestral Native Americans. Colorado's claim to fame, however, is its postcard-perfect view of the snow-covered Rocky Mountains. These majestic peaks command the skyline and surrounding landscapes with their massive presence. Panoramic vistas from the tallest summit are just as gorgeous as the view on a scenic drive.


06Washington: the evergreen paradise

Washington's rain forest is exquisite Stanislav_Moroz / Getty Images

The Pacific Coastline is one of the most stunning stretches of territory in America and just a small portion of the beauty that Washington has to offer. Sublime bluffs at Cape Flattery and along the Olympic Peninsula give way to lush forests, crystal clear lakes, and verdant meadows. The Cascade Mountain range is spectacular, with scenic views at Mount Shuksan, Perfection Lake, and the historic Mount St. Helens. Eastern Washington is surprisingly pastoral, though no less beautiful, as the gently rolling hills of the Palouse Region can be quite breathtaking.


07Montana: the bluest skies

Montana's blue skies are endless jodiecoston / Getty Images

From the Rocky Mountain chain to the green river valleys and the Great Plains, Montana's natural wonders make the state an enchanting destination. Blue skies contrast striped rock formations in the badlands and complement the lush greenery of sprawling meadows. At Glacier National Park, the famed Going-to-the-Sun Road is a modern engineering marvel. Winding through glacial canyons and in between snow-capped peaks, the route exhibits some of Montana's most striking features: pristine lakes, evergreen forests, and abundant wildlife.


08Wyoming: a cowboy's idea of heaven

Moulton Barn is historically enchanting strickke / Getty Images

If there's one thing Wyoming does well, it's transforming ordinary moments into extraordinary experiences. From the hauntingly beautiful Moulton Barn to the hot springs soak that comes with herds of bison, the Cowboy State delivers unexpected beauty at every opportunity. A sunrise over Devil's Tower is just as marvelous as the sun setting behind the Grand Teton Mountain Range. At geological hotspot, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Prismatic Spring is a vision in vibrant colors, and the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area wows with its red sandstone formations and petroglyphs.


09Michigan: a winter wonderland

Michigan winters are white Caleb Gekeler / Getty Images

Michigan isn't the Great Lake State for no reason. With shores alongside four of the five Great Lakes and more than 60,000 inland bodies of water, Michiganders know a thing or two about enchanting sceneries. Michigan isn't just for watersports, either. Whether it's the idyllic Sleeping Bear Dunes, the densely wooded state forests and parks, or the surrounding lake islands, Michigan's natural beauty is wildly engaging. Trees take on a variety of hues in the autumn and, in December, the infamous winters transform it into a seasonal wonderland.


10North Carolina: the east coast beauty

Blue Ridge Parkway is mesmerizing MargaretW / Getty Images

Countless natural wonders and panoramic views grace every corner of North Carolina. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, home to the Appalachian Trail, is a remarkable contrast from the swamps of Merchants Millponds and the sandy beaches of the Outer Banks. The Blue Ridge Parkway, which winds alongside the Blue Ridge Mountains, is one of the most exquisite drives in the United States. Gorgeous mountain and valley views stretch as far as the eyes can see, with a stunning array of colored foliage in the fall.


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