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Wildflowers at Mount Rainier National Park
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The most naturally beautiful states in the US, according to one ranking

The west is well represented.

Erika Mailman
Written by
Erika Mailman

Natural beauty is often why we choose to travel: to see the vistas and spectacular landscapes we haven’t seen before. A new report by Airport Parking Reservations has ranked the states in order of natural beauty, by creating a ‘state beauty score’ and the results are worth perusing. And maybe even fighting over?

To come up with the score, the company ranked each state for its mountains and especially peaks over 5,000 feet, and its national parks, waterfalls, large natural lakes and beaches.

The winner with a score of 9.29 out of 10 (the only state with a score in the nines) was Washington. It succeeded in part to its large number of waterfalls (3,132), its 8,000 big lakes and 1,368 beaches.

In second place was California with an overall score of 8.64 (the only state with a score in the eights). California has a ton of named mountains (8,008) and nine national parks — the most in the nation — as well as a healthy scattering of waterfalls and beaches. Yet, as a comparison point, it only has 12 large natural lakes, compared to Washington’s 8,000.

Coming in third was Alaska, with a breathtaking 64 peaks over 5,000 feet and eight national parks. Alas, only three beaches! That brings Alaska a beauty score of 7.89.

Here’s the rest of the top ten, in descending order:

1. Washington

2. California

3. Alaska

4. Oregon

5. Hawaii 

6. Montana

7. Wyoming

8. Colorado

9. North Carolina 

10. New York 

Although all 50 states were ranked, the report only names the top 25. Other takeaways? Florida has the most large natural lakes: 30,000, while Alaska has the most lakes of all sizes: more than 3 million. California’s mountains account for nearly 11 percent of the mountains in the entire US. 

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