Last week, I did my top four favorite cities. And this week, I’m expanding that to the states. But I’d rather focus on the beauty of the states over other factors. And that’s all very subjective, but hey, it’s my list.
Now, as I said last week, there are 17 states I haven’t been to yet: Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Maryland, Maine, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, and West Virginia. So, if you’re favorite state isn’t on the Mount Rushmore, it may be on this list. And I may do an updated one in the future after I visit every state.
The last thing I want to highlight is this. The thing I learned the most about on my road trip is how similar most of the states are between the cities. It’s a lot of long stretches of flat fields and not much else. So more varied states are probably going to get a boost. All that being said, here are my top four most beautiful states.
I went to Arizona originally for one reason: Sedona. But navigating the entire state all the way down to Tucson showed me how much I appreciated the desert. As you travel south, it slowly transitions from mountainous red rock to flat desert, filled with unique cacti. And you get so many amazing landmarks in the state as well.
Sedona isn’t a National Park, but it’s, in my own opinion, the most scenic part of Arizona. And that’s saying something considering Arizona also houses the Grand Canyon. You also get the Petrified Forest and the natural beauty of the desert and those purple sunsets. Arizona is special.
You can’t make a list of beautiful states and not have California near the top. Not only is it varied, providing the Redwood Forest, mountains and other aspects of the Pacific Northwest, but it flows down into its own beautiful desert, Joshua Tree. Even cities like Los Angeles are beautiful (if a bit smoggy). California also splits my favorite place in the country with Nevada: Lake Tahoe.
California is also tied for the most National Parks. In addition to the two above, Death Valley, King’s Canyon, Yosemite, and three others give you plenty of outdoor opportunities. And I made it all the way to the end of this section before mentioning that it has the longest coastline of the Pacific Ocean on the lower 48.
So, let’s be honest. The eastern third of Colorado is just West Kansas. It’s flat, with not a whole lot to look at. But the western two-thirds do a lot of heavy lifting. The Rockies are something that you can’t prepare for. I did a lot of picture searching before I headed to Colorado, and I was still blown away.
Even the small mountain ski towns are surreal, like Telluride and Leadville. But it’s not just the mountains that hold all of Colorado’s beauty. Red Rocks Theatre is just outside of Denver, and the Manitou Incline in Colorado Springs takes some getting to, but is worth the trip. Colorado is the best of the Rocky Mountain states.
Washington is a little different than the other states on this list for one reason. I never got bored driving through Washington. I obviously didn’t drive every expressway in the state, so I’m sure there are some flat, boring parts. But the route I took brought me past some vineyard fields that reminded me of the hills in Italy. I’ve never been to Italy, but, pictures.
Then, once you get to the mountains, it’s all downhill from there, which is a pun I had not intended to write. It’s also a murders’ row of three National Parks: Mount Ranier, North Cascades, and Olympic. And once you make your way through the mountains, you’re greeted by the Pacific Ocean on the other side. It’s the most beautiful state overall that I’ve been to.
I look forward to visiting the states I haven’t been to so I can update my list. I think Maine and Montana could have a real shot at knocking some of these off. I’ve heard amazing things. Let me know what your favorite states are in the comments!