Breathtaking wonders in every state

 

What makes the US so beautiful is how its topography varies so dramatically from state to state. No wonder it’s called “America the Beautiful.”

From arid deserts to lush forests, America’s landscape is as varied as it is stunning.

Picking 50 wasn’t easy, but here are the most beautiful natural attractions in each state.

ALABAMA: The Heart of Dixie is home to Noccalula Falls, a 90-foot waterfall that has its own gorge trail that passes by an aboriginal fort, a pioneer homestead, Civil War carvings, and caves.
ALABAMA: The Heart of Dixie is home to Noccalula Falls, a 90-foot waterfall that has its own gorge trail that passes by an aboriginal fort, a pioneer homestead, Civil War carvings, and caves.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service

ALASKA: Our northernmost state is the only place in the US where the Northern Lights are a common occurrence. Known as the aurora borealis, this natural light show is caused by the collision of solar wind with particles in our atmosphere.
ALASKA: Our northernmost state is the only place in the US where the Northern Lights are a common occurrence. Known as the aurora borealis, this natural light show is caused by the collision of solar wind with particles in our atmosphere.
Shutterstock
Source: Alaska Tour Jobs
ARIZONA: The Grand Canyon is Arizona’s best-known natural beauty, but it isn’t the only one. The Wave is a sandstone rock with thousands of linear carvings caused by time and erosion.
ARIZONA: The Grand Canyon is Arizona’s best-known natural beauty, but it isn’t the only one. The Wave is a sandstone rock with thousands of linear carvings caused by time and erosion.
iStock / AvatarKnowmad
Source: TheWave.info

ARKANSAS: The Ozark region is breathtaking, with its steep-sloping plateaus, drastic drops in elevation, and wooded mountains as far as the eye can see.
ARKANSAS: The Ozark region is breathtaking, with its steep-sloping plateaus, drastic drops in elevation, and wooded mountains as far as the eye can see.
Wikipedia
Source: Arkansas Geological Survey
CALIFORNIA: The Golden State has some of the tallest trees on Earth. The giant sequoia and redwood trees can be hundreds of years old and grow over 300 feet high. Find them at California’s famous Sequoia National Park.
CALIFORNIA: The Golden State has some of the tallest trees on Earth. The giant sequoia and redwood trees can be hundreds of years old and grow over 300 feet high. Find them at California’s famous Sequoia National Park.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service

COLORADO: Every winter, Colorado becomes one of the US’ busiest ski destinations. Pikes Peak, at the front of the Rocky Mountain Range, was christened “America’s Mountain” for its part in inspiring the words to “America the Beautiful.”
COLORADO: Every winter, Colorado becomes one of the US’ busiest ski destinations. Pikes Peak, at the front of the Rocky Mountain Range, was christened “America’s Mountain” for its part in inspiring the words to “America the Beautiful.”
Shutterstock
Source: Colorado Tourism Office
CONNECTICUT: Like other New England states, Connecticut makes a stunning place to stop and see the fall foliage. Fun fact: The trees along the Connecticut River, from the mouth of the Long Island Sound to East Haddam, will hold the foliage the longest.
CONNECTICUT: Like other New England states, Connecticut makes a stunning place to stop and see the fall foliage. Fun fact: The trees along the Connecticut River, from the mouth of the Long Island Sound to East Haddam, will hold the foliage the longest.
Shutterstock
Source: Connecticut Office of Tourism

DELAWARE: When you think of swamps, Delaware is probably not the first state that comes to mind, but Trap Pond State Park’s “Cypress Swamp” features the northernmost natural stand of bald cypress trees in the US.
DELAWARE: When you think of swamps, Delaware is probably not the first state that comes to mind, but Trap Pond State Park’s “Cypress Swamp” features the northernmost natural stand of bald cypress trees in the US.
Wikipedia
Source: Delaware State Parks
FLORIDA: When you’re done with Disney, venture farther south into the Everglades, a watery wilderness formed by trees and marshland. It’s the largest subtropical wilderness in the US. But watch out for alligators!
FLORIDA: When you’re done with Disney, venture farther south into the Everglades, a watery wilderness formed by trees and marshland. It’s the largest subtropical wilderness in the US. But watch out for alligators!
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service

GEORGIA: The quartz monzonite dome for which Stone Mountain Park is named stands nearly 1,700 feet tall. Today, Stone Mountain is known for the large three-figure relief carving on its side — the largest in the world.
GEORGIA: The quartz monzonite dome for which Stone Mountain Park is named stands nearly 1,700 feet tall. Today, Stone Mountain is known for the large three-figure relief carving on its side — the largest in the world.
Shutterstock
Source: Stone Mountain Park
HAWAII: At the Kilauea volcano, magma comes flying out in solid chunks of ash rather than flowing out as lava, making it not only beautiful but also dangerous.
HAWAII: At the Kilauea volcano, magma comes flying out in solid chunks of ash rather than flowing out as lava, making it not only beautiful but also dangerous.
Shutterstock
Source: National Geographic

IDAHO: The “fire rainbow” is a rare phenomenon that occurs only in certain areas, like Idaho, where the sun can get to more than 58 degrees above the horizon. Ice crystals in the atmosphere capture the light of the sun and refract all the colors of the rainbow.
IDAHO: The “fire rainbow” is a rare phenomenon that occurs only in certain areas, like Idaho, where the sun can get to more than 58 degrees above the horizon. Ice crystals in the atmosphere capture the light of the sun and refract all the colors of the rainbow.
Shutterstock
Source: National Geographic
ILLINOIS: Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes located entirely in the US. While it also shares waterfront with Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin, the lake provides drinking water for 8.5 million Illinoisans, making it an important natural resource for the state. It froze over last winter.
ILLINOIS: Lake Michigan is the only one of the Great Lakes located entirely in the US. While it also shares waterfront with Michigan, Indiana, and Wisconsin, the lake provides drinking water for 8.5 million Illinoisans, making it an important natural resource for the state. It froze over last winter.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Source: Environment Illinois

INDIANA: On the shores of Lake Michigan, Indiana’s sand dunes rise nearly 200 feet high. They’re the result of the last great continental glacier’s retreat about 14,000 years ago.
INDIANA: On the shores of Lake Michigan, Indiana’s sand dunes rise nearly 200 feet high. They’re the result of the last great continental glacier’s retreat about 14,000 years ago.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service
IOWA: Plains areas like Iowa are the best to spot the ominous Van Gogh-esque asperatus clouds. First photographed in Cedar Rapids in 2006, these clouds have more bark than bite, and usually dissipate within 15 minutes.
IOWA: Plains areas like Iowa are the best to spot the ominous Van Gogh-esque asperatus clouds. First photographed in Cedar Rapids in 2006, these clouds have more bark than bite, and usually dissipate within 15 minutes.
AP Photo/Jane Wiggins
Source: Associated Press

KANSAS: One of the largest salt deposits in the world makes its home right in Kansas, about 650 feet underground. The formation, which dates to 275 million years ago when the Permian Sea dried up, is an active salt mine today.
KANSAS: One of the largest salt deposits in the world makes its home right in Kansas, about 650 feet underground. The formation, which dates to 275 million years ago when the Permian Sea dried up, is an active salt mine today.
Wikipedia
Source: Strataca

KENTUCKY: The world’s most extensive known cave system is aptly named. Mammoth Caves, with more 400 explored miles of caverns, has a delicate and complex ecosystem.
KENTUCKY: The world’s most extensive known cave system is aptly named. Mammoth Caves, with more 400 explored miles of caverns, has a delicate and complex ecosystem.
Wikipedia
Source: National Park Service

LOUISIANA: The bayous of Louisiana are so much more than swamps. These wetlands are active — albeit slow-moving — waterways with native animal and plant life. At 375 miles, Bayou Bartholomew is the longest in the world.
LOUISIANA: The bayous of Louisiana are so much more than swamps. These wetlands are active — albeit slow-moving — waterways with native animal and plant life. At 375 miles, Bayou Bartholomew is the longest in the world.
Pixabay/Glynn424
Source: National Geographic
MAINE: A hot spot for tourists, Acadia National Park has pristine views, hidden pathways and trails, and the tallest mountain on the US Atlantic coast.
MAINE: A hot spot for tourists, Acadia National Park has pristine views, hidden pathways and trails, and the tallest mountain on the US Atlantic coast.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service

MARYLAND: A barrier island shared between Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is famous for its wild, beach-loving horses. Local folklore says a shipwreck brought the horses to Assateague.
MARYLAND: A barrier island shared between Maryland and Virginia, Assateague Island is famous for its wild, beach-loving horses. Local folklore says a shipwreck brought the horses to Assateague.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service
MASSACHUSETTS: The intrigue and beauty of Walden Pond are praised most notably by Henry David Thoreau in his book “Walden,” which is based on his experiences living there.
MASSACHUSETTS: The intrigue and beauty of Walden Pond are praised most notably by Henry David Thoreau in his book “Walden,” which is based on his experiences living there.
Shutterstock
Source: Mass.gov

MICHIGAN: Lake Superior surrounds Isle Royale National Park, an area home to free-roaming moose and wolves. The biggest of all the Great Lakes, Lake Superior could hold all the others, plus three more lakes the size of Lake Erie.
MICHIGAN: Lake Superior surrounds Isle Royale National Park, an area home to free-roaming moose and wolves. The biggest of all the Great Lakes, Lake Superior could hold all the others, plus three more lakes the size of Lake Erie.
Shutterstock
Source: Great Lakes Information Network
MINNESOTA: A popular campsite and adventure sports destination, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness spans over 1 million acres in the northern part of Minnesota. The area is mostly water interspersed with tiny islands that formed as the glaciers of the last ice age retreated and deposited huge boulders.
MINNESOTA: A popular campsite and adventure sports destination, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness spans over 1 million acres in the northern part of Minnesota. The area is mostly water interspersed with tiny islands that formed as the glaciers of the last ice age retreated and deposited huge boulders.
Shutterstock
Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service

MISSISSIPPI: The Mississippi River, which effectively splits the country in half, is both beautiful and dangerous; inclement weather can cause devastating flooding in nearby areas, especially around the Gulf of Mexico.
MISSISSIPPI: The Mississippi River, which effectively splits the country in half, is both beautiful and dangerous; inclement weather can cause devastating flooding in nearby areas, especially around the Gulf of Mexico.
Shutterstock.com
Source: National Weather Service
MISSOURI: Onondaga Cave is one of the most beautiful in the country, with dripping stalagmites and “lily pads” formed by mineral deposits in the water.
MISSOURI: Onondaga Cave is one of the most beautiful in the country, with dripping stalagmites and “lily pads” formed by mineral deposits in the water.
Shutterstock
Source: Missouri Dept. of Natural Resources

MONTANA: The heart of the Crown of the Continent region, Glacier National Park earned its nickname for its rugged peaks, pristine forests, glacier-carved valleys, native prairie, and sparkling waters. It’s a hiker’s paradise, with more than 700 miles of trails.
MONTANA: The heart of the Crown of the Continent region, Glacier National Park earned its nickname for its rugged peaks, pristine forests, glacier-carved valleys, native prairie, and sparkling waters. It’s a hiker’s paradise, with more than 700 miles of trails.
Shutterstock/Galyna Andrushko
Source: National Park Service
NEBRASKA: Chimney Rock National Historic Site is a geological formation left over from the erosion of the bluffs at the edge of the North Platte Valley. The spire rises 325 feet from the base and is composed of layers of volcanic ash and Brule clay.
NEBRASKA: Chimney Rock National Historic Site is a geological formation left over from the erosion of the bluffs at the edge of the North Platte Valley. The spire rises 325 feet from the base and is composed of layers of volcanic ash and Brule clay.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service

NEVADA: Named for the brilliant sandstone formations that burn red like the sun, Valley of Fire State Park was formed 150 million years ago by shifting in the sand dunes. Hikers and campers will marvel at its copious amounts of petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs.
NEVADA: Named for the brilliant sandstone formations that burn red like the sun, Valley of Fire State Park was formed 150 million years ago by shifting in the sand dunes. Hikers and campers will marvel at its copious amounts of petrified wood and 3,000-year-old Indian petroglyphs.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington stretches 6,288 feet into the sky. In fair weather, its summit offers views of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Quebec, and even New York.
NEW HAMPSHIRE: The highest peak in the Northeast, Mount Washington stretches 6,288 feet into the sky. In fair weather, its summit offers views of Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Quebec, and even New York.
Shutterstock
Source: Mount Washington Observatory

NEW JERSEY: The Garden State’s crown jewel remains its 130 miles of coastline, spanning from Sandy Hook to Cape May. The white-sand beaches draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
NEW JERSEY: The Garden State’s crown jewel remains its 130 miles of coastline, spanning from Sandy Hook to Cape May. The white-sand beaches draw hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.
Shutterstock.com
Source: Visit NJ
NEW MEXICO: The White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest gypsum sand dune field, encompassing 275 square miles of glistening white sands.
NEW MEXICO: The White Sands National Monument is the world’s largest gypsum sand dune field, encompassing 275 square miles of glistening white sands.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service

NEW YORK: Niagara Falls, the unofficial wedding capital of New York, flushes 3,160 tons of water over its falls every second and produces over four million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the US and Canada.
NEW YORK: Niagara Falls, the unofficial wedding capital of New York, flushes 3,160 tons of water over its falls every second and produces over four million kilowatts of electricity, which is shared by the US and Canada.
iStock /igorsch
Source: Niagara Falls State Park
NORTH CAROLINA: Along the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Highlands is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world: home to 100 varieties of trees, 1,600 plant species, 54 mammals, and 159 species of birds.
NORTH CAROLINA: Along the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Appalachian Highlands is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the world: home to 100 varieties of trees, 1,600 plant species, 54 mammals, and 159 species of birds.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service

NORTH DAKOTA: The Little Missouri National Grasslands feature colorful and unspoiled badlands, a rugged terrain eroded by wind and water, and both long and short prairie grasses.
NORTH DAKOTA: The Little Missouri National Grasslands feature colorful and unspoiled badlands, a rugged terrain eroded by wind and water, and both long and short prairie grasses.
Wikipedia
Source: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture Forest Service
OHIO: Follow the hemlock-lined trails of Hocking Hills State Park and you’ll find cascading waterfalls, deep-recessed caves, and cliff views that will steal your breath away. For thousands of years, water flowed through the valley and cut away the Blackhand Sandstone, smoothing out a walkway for visitors.
OHIO: Follow the hemlock-lined trails of Hocking Hills State Park and you’ll find cascading waterfalls, deep-recessed caves, and cliff views that will steal your breath away. For thousands of years, water flowed through the valley and cut away the Blackhand Sandstone, smoothing out a walkway for visitors.
Shutterstock
Source: Hocking Hills State Park

OKLAHOMA: The Great Salt Plains are evidence that seawater flooded the Sooner State millions of years ago. The water was eventually cut off from the oceans and evaporated, depositing thick layers of salt.
OKLAHOMA: The Great Salt Plains are evidence that seawater flooded the Sooner State millions of years ago. The water was eventually cut off from the oceans and evaporated, depositing thick layers of salt.
YouTube/Smithsonian Channel
Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
OREGON: Thor’s Well is a huge saltwater fountain powered by the Pacific Ocean. When the surf is up, water shoots upward from the bowl, and then drains back into the opening.
OREGON: Thor’s Well is a huge saltwater fountain powered by the Pacific Ocean. When the surf is up, water shoots upward from the bowl, and then drains back into the opening.
Wikipedia
Source: Travel Oregon

PENNSYLVANIA: Ricketts Glen harbors 22 named waterfalls, each cascading through rock-strewn clefts in the hillside. The highest, Ganoga Falls, drops 94 feet.
PENNSYLVANIA: Ricketts Glen harbors 22 named waterfalls, each cascading through rock-strewn clefts in the hillside. The highest, Ganoga Falls, drops 94 feet.
Shutterstock
Source: Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
RHODE ISLAND: Often compared to the cliffs of Ireland, the 200-foot-tall Mohegan Bluffs offer panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors must climb down 140 steps and over yards of boulders in order to reach the beach, but it’s worth the trip.
RHODE ISLAND: Often compared to the cliffs of Ireland, the 200-foot-tall Mohegan Bluffs offer panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors must climb down 140 steps and over yards of boulders in order to reach the beach, but it’s worth the trip.
Wikimedia
Source: Rhode Island Travel Handbook

SOUTH CAROLINA: The lush marshes on Hunting Island provide the best views of the sunset. You may recognize them from the Vietnam War scenes in the movie “Forrest Gump,” which were filmed along Marsh Boardwalk.
SOUTH CAROLINA: The lush marshes on Hunting Island provide the best views of the sunset. You may recognize them from the Vietnam War scenes in the movie “Forrest Gump,” which were filmed along Marsh Boardwalk.
Wikipedia
Source: HuntingIsland.com
SOUTH DAKOTA: One of the world’s richest fossil beds can be found at Badlands National Park. Ancient mammal species, like the saber-toothed cat, once roamed here.
SOUTH DAKOTA: One of the world’s richest fossil beds can be found at Badlands National Park. Ancient mammal species, like the saber-toothed cat, once roamed here.
Wikimedia
Source: National Park Service

TENNESSEE: For two weeks every summer, a special species of fireflies congregates in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to find mates. Thousands gather to observe a naturally occurring phenomenon in which the fireflies blink in unison.
TENNESSEE: For two weeks every summer, a special species of fireflies congregates in Great Smoky Mountains National Park to find mates. Thousands gather to observe a naturally occurring phenomenon in which the fireflies blink in unison.
Shutterstock
Source: National Parks Traveler
TEXAS: The massive pink granite dome rising above Enchanted Rock State Natural Area formed a billion years ago, when a large pool of magma buoyed above the Earth’s surface, cooled, and slowly turned to granite. It’s an exfoliation dome, meaning it has layers like an onion.
TEXAS: The massive pink granite dome rising above Enchanted Rock State Natural Area formed a billion years ago, when a large pool of magma buoyed above the Earth’s surface, cooled, and slowly turned to granite. It’s an exfoliation dome, meaning it has layers like an onion.
Wikimedia
Source: Texas Parks & Wildlife

UTAH: Arches National Park is a red, arid desert, punctuated with over 2,000 natural stone arches, soaring pinnacles, massive fins, and giant balanced rocks.
UTAH: Arches National Park is a red, arid desert, punctuated with over 2,000 natural stone arches, soaring pinnacles, massive fins, and giant balanced rocks.
Wikipedia
Source: National Park Service
VERMONT: The Green Mountain National Forest is within a day’s drive for more than 70 million people, so locals as well as leaf peepers, or tourists, can enjoy its watercolor-like landscapes.
VERMONT: The Green Mountain National Forest is within a day’s drive for more than 70 million people, so locals as well as leaf peepers, or tourists, can enjoy its watercolor-like landscapes.
Wikipedia
Source: United States Department of Agriculture Forest Service

VIRGINIA: A road trip down Skyline Drive shows off all that beautiful Shenandoah National Park has to offer. Wildflowers bloom all year round, and deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and other woodland animals meander on the 105-mile path.
VIRGINIA: A road trip down Skyline Drive shows off all that beautiful Shenandoah National Park has to offer. Wildflowers bloom all year round, and deer, black bears, wild turkeys, and other woodland animals meander on the 105-mile path.
Shutterstock
Source: National Park Service
WASHINGTON: Throughout the nearly 1 million acres of Olympic National Park are glacial mountains, cliff-lined beaches, and rain forests such as the Hall of Mosses. A lush green canopy blankets the area, thanks to its yearly 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet) of precipitation.
WASHINGTON: Throughout the nearly 1 million acres of Olympic National Park are glacial mountains, cliff-lined beaches, and rain forests such as the Hall of Mosses. A lush green canopy blankets the area, thanks to its yearly 140 to 170 inches (or 12 to 14 feet) of precipitation.
Wikimedia
Source: National Geographic and National Park Service

WEST VIRGINIA: The aptly named Mountain State is the only state that lies completely within the Appalachian Mountain region. You can hike all of the Appalachian Trail’s 2,184 miles, passing through West Virginia and traversing scenic, wooded, and pastoral lands.
WEST VIRGINIA: The aptly named Mountain State is the only state that lies completely within the Appalachian Mountain region. You can hike all of the Appalachian Trail’s 2,184 miles, passing through West Virginia and traversing scenic, wooded, and pastoral lands.
Shutterstock
Source: Marshall University
WISCONSIN: The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore calls to the explorer in all of us. An archipelago of 21 wilderness islands dot the waters of Lake Superior, and frozen waterfalls hang inside sea caves.
WISCONSIN: The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore calls to the explorer in all of us. An archipelago of 21 wilderness islands dot the waters of Lake Superior, and frozen waterfalls hang inside sea caves.
Shutterstock
Source: Travel Wisconsin

WYOMING: Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring is proof that “bacteria can be beautiful.” Pigmented bacteria lives on the perimeter of the country’s largest hot spring, producing a brilliant rainbow effect.
WYOMING: Yellowstone National Park’s Grand Prismatic Spring is proof that “bacteria can be beautiful.” Pigmented bacteria lives on the perimeter of the country’s largest hot spring, producing a brilliant rainbow effect.
Yann Arthus-Bertrand/AP
Source: Slate

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