There’s a reason New Englanders keep the Pine Tree State a secret. Whether you want to swim, ski, hike, kayak, hunt, fish, or run into a moose (although, we’re not sure why you’d want to do that…) you can find it all here because the state is pretty much entirely untouched nature. Well, besides Portland (no, not the one in Oregon) and a few charming little towns littered across it’s forested landscape.
Of course, it’s not all forest. If you include all the jutting cliffs, stunning beaches, and islands, Maine actually has MORE miles of coastline than even California. Speaking of islands, have you seen Mt. Desert? It’s home to Maine’s crown jewel, Acadia national park. There is really no other place in the country quite like it.
Michigan is another state with more coastline than California! Granted, that coast is actually a lake coast, but the lakes are so big that it sure feels like the ocean…
You may have heard of the famously old-fashioned Mackinac Island where cars are forbidden, and horses and buggies transport you back in time around the Victorian town. But have you heard of Isle Royale National Park? The 400-island archipelago is the least visited National Park in the contiguous U.S., probably because the only way to get there is a 3-hour long ferry ride. But the trip is worth the unreal beauty that meets you at the end.
And let’s not forget the multi-colored Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the isolated hilly beaches at Sleeping Bear Dunes, the Northern Lights at Headlands International Dark Sky Park, or the glistening ice caves.
When you think of Oregon, you probably just think of hipsters in Portland, or maybe forested waterfalls, but the Beaver state has pretty much every type of biome imaginable.
From beautiful beaches bordered by sinkholes, sand dunes, and giant rock islands, to lush National Forests teeming with thousands of streams and waterfalls, the entire state feels enchanted. The Cascade Range runs right through the middle of Oregon where you can find Crater Lake National Park- a giant volcanic crater full of crystal clear blue water.
And let’s not forget about the Eastern half of the state, which is practically another planet full of landscapes like the Painted Hills, Owyhee Canyonlands, and Hell’s Canyon- where a nearly 8,000 foot drop into the Snake River makes the deepest gorge in North America.
Needless to say, there’s a lot more to Oregon than just Portland.
Take a drive on I-70 and you’ll see why everyone is visiting the centennial state. Every curve of the interstate reveals a breathtaking view of the Rockies before following the Eagle and Colorado rivers through canyons and into a red, martian-esque landscape. The surrounding mountains are home to 58 peaks over 14,000 feet, which exceeds any other state by a longshot. In fact, there are only 4 states in the country that even have one 14,000 footer… But Colorado is so much more than just a beautiful mountainous region full of world class ski resorts.
From the Native American pueblos at Mesa Verde National Park, to the red rock formations at Garden of the Gods, to the tallest sand dunes in North America at Great Sand Dunes National Park, an entire lifetime wouldn’t be long enough to explore all the unique environments Colorado has to offer.
Sure it is always misty, but the constant rain is what makes the Evergreen state… well… evergreen! And speaking of evergreen, North Cascades National Park might be one of the most beautiful places on Earth, I mean have you SEEN Mt. Shuksan? Well, probably not because it’s another one of the least visited national parks, which is weird since it’s only a 2 hour drive from Seattle. But Even closer to Seattle are the majestic Olympic Mountains, and even closer is Mt. Rainier… which is the most prominent peak in the continental U.S., although it is also an ACTIVE VOLCANO.
In total, Washington is home to 63 different mountain ranges, the largest expanse of temperate rainforest in the U.S., tons of waterfalls, rivers, lakes, ecologically unique islands, the Columbia River Gorge, the scablands, the Palouse Hills, and charming mountain towns like the Bavarian themed town of Leavenworth.… maybe living under an active volcano is worth it after all.
From the rocky mountains to the desert canyons, it isn’t hard to see why Utah has the 3rd MOST national parks in the country. You’ve probably heard of Zion and Arches, and maybe even the moon-like landscape of Canyonlands National Park. But there’s also Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef National Park and 43 State parks. Although, we think the coolest thing about Utah is that most of the nature here is completely untouched- outside of the super popular national parks and ski resorts, that is.
If it had a coastline, Utah would probably be #1 on this list. But it doesn’t and before you say “HEY THE GREAT SALT LAKE!” NOBODY likes the way the great salt lake looks… or smells for that matter…
If you are wondering why the most geographically diverse state in the country isn’t number one- it’s because of the overcrowding and pollution. Even though the national parks are 4-5 hours out of the major cities, there are still SO MANY people. But although you may be hard pressed to find any peace and quiet, what you will find is 3,400 miles of pristine coastline and some of the best beaches in the world. From La Jolla and Laguna to Carmel, Moonstone beach, and the incredible Big Sur where the locals do everything in their power to hide the best spots from tourists.
So why don’t you head on over to one of the 9 National parks or over 300 state parks instead- both the most of any state. Try Yosemite, the Redwoods, or even Death Valley… The problem is there aren’t nearly enough funds allocated to handling the litter and pollution. But what can you say? Money doesn’t grow on trees… and even if it did, California would have burned through it by now, pun intended (enter wildfires- stage right).
Hawaii is by far the smallest state on this list, so I guess it goes to show that size doesn’t matter! Cuz what the Aloha State lacks in size, it makes up for in sheer beauty.
Each of the seven inhabited islands is entirely unique, but some notable views are the Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon on Kauai; the Bamboo Forest, Honokohau Falls, and the road to Hana on Maui; the Sea Cliffs of Molokai; Lanikai Beach and Koko Head Crater on Oahu and Mauna Kea; and Volcanic National Park on Big island. In fact, The big island alone has 11 of the World’s 13 climate zones!
From the history, culture, waterfalls, volcanoes, hiking, world class snorkeling and surfing, Hawaii is one of the most unique and diverse states in the country. Not to mention… the nearly perfect weather with tropical temperatures and 270 sunny days a year.
Yes… the sky really does seem bigger in the Big Sky state. And while we all know of Colorado as the rocky mountain state, the rockies in Montana remain unparalleled. They loom majestically over vast and colorful valleys dotted by the lakes, rivers, and wildlife running through it. And while a trip to Yellowstone National Park will leave you bewildered by the power of nature, the lesser known Glacier National Park actually might be the most beautiful national park in the U.S..
These landscapes are contrasted by Makoshika State Park in the East with its badlands and dinosaur fossils. In fact, there are actually 55 State Parks in the state including the Lewis and Clark Caverns, Flathead Lake, Bighorn Canyon, and Palisade and Kootenai Falls, but honestly the whole state could be a National Park.
Alaska is undoubtedly more grand, vast, and untamed than any other state. It has more coastline than every U.S. state combined, the 10 tallest mountains in the country, over half of the world’s glaciers, and is also home to rain forests, volcanoes, and even sand dunes. Despite having 8 national parks, 156 state parks, and incredible ecological diversity, Alaska remains the least visited state. This is probably due to the fact that there aren’t many roads leading TO any of these places. You’ll actually have to charter a plane to get to most of them.
That’s also why the population density is just 1 person per square mile, you’re probably more likely to run into a bear, moose, or musk-ox than another person among the nature here. It really is the last frontier.