Embark on a journey through America's most stunning landscapes as we reveal the top U.S. destinations for nature lovers, featuring majestic mountains, serene shorelines, and lush forests. Discover your next adventure today!
The United States is a treasure trove of awe-inspiring scenery and adventure. We've analyzed the data and uncovered the best states for nature lovers using seven key factors — including the number of national parks, public land acreage, total shoreline, lift-accessible ski acreage, total trail miles, estimated public lakes, and pollution levels as measured by concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
Topping our list is the Golden State, California. Home to an unmatched nine national parks, 38,196,000 acres of public land, and a staggering 18,467 miles of trails, California is a haven for those who appreciate the great outdoors. Explore the picturesque coastline, which stretches for 3,427 miles, or hit the slopes at one of the state's impressive ski resorts boasting 38,484 acres of lift-accessible skiable acreage. Be mindful, however, of the relatively high pollution level (10.4 pm 2.5) when planning your excursions.
For a true wilderness experience, venture to the awe-inspiring state of Alaska. Boasting the most extensive public land in the nation at 200,174,000 acres and an astounding 3,000,000 public lakes, Alaska provides an unparalleled setting for outdoor enthusiasts. The state is also home to eight national parks and a breathtaking 33,904 miles of shoreline. And with a pollution level of just 6.3 pm 2.5, Alaska's pristine environment is perfect for nature lovers seeking an untainted escape.
Elevate your love for nature in the picturesque state of Colorado. With four national parks, 23,359,000 acres of public land, and a stunning 43,553 acres of lift-accessible skiable acreage – the highest among all states – Colorado is an adventurer's dream. The state's pollution level is relatively low, measuring 5.5 pm 2.5, allowing you to breathe in the crisp mountain air as you explore its breathtaking beauty.
From majestic mountain peaks to serene coastal escapes, Washington State offers a diverse landscape for nature lovers to explore. Home to three national parks, 13,467,000 acres of public land, and an impressive 3,026 miles of shoreline, this Pacific Northwest gem is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Discover the enchanting beauty of the Cascade Mountains or wander through lush rainforests, while breathing in the clean air, with a pollution level of just 6.2 pm 2.5.
Venture into the heart of the West and experience the captivating beauty of Utah. With five national parks, 34,736,000 acres of public land, and 30,947 acres of lift-accessible skiable acreage, Utah is a dream destination for nature lovers. Discover the state's striking red rock formations, explore its vast deserts, or ski its world-renowned slopes, all under a pollution level of 7 pm 2.5.
Alaska 2,00,174 (x1,000) public acres
Nevada 53,752 (x1,000) public acres
California 38,196 (x1,000) public acres
Idaho 34,807 (x1,000) public acres
Oregon 34,752 (x1,000) public acres
Hawaii 3.9 pm 2.5
Wyoming 4.1 pm 2.5
Maine 4.6 pm 2.5
Montana 4.9 pm 2.5
New Mexico 5.1 pm 2.5
California 18,467 trail miles
Colorado 11,516 trail miles
Washington 10,590 trail miles
Oregon 7,652 trail miles
Arizona 6,540 trail miles
Colorado 43,553 lift accessible ski acres
California 38,484 lift accessible ski acres
Utah 30,947 lift accessible ski acres
Montana 22,669 lift accessible ski acres
Idaho 16,743 lift accessible ski acres
Alaska 33,904 shoreline miles
Florida 8,436 shoreline miles
Louisiana 7,721 shoreline miles
Maine 3,478 shoreline miles
California 3,427 shoreline miles
Alaska 3,000,000 estimated lakes
Florida30,000 estimated lakes
West Virginia 15,074 estimated lakes
Michigan 14,380 estimated lakes
To determine the best states for nature lovers, we developed a comprehensive ranking system based on seven key factors that contribute to the overall experience and enjoyment of nature within each state. These factors include the number of national parks, public land acreage, total shoreline, lift-accessible ski acreage, total trail miles, estimated public lakes, and pollution levels as measured by concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5).
The following sources were used to gather the data for each factor:
Lift-Accessible Ski Acreage:
Pollution: van Donkelaar, A., R. V. Martin, M. Brauer and B. L. Boys, Use of Satellite Observations for Long-Term Exposure Assessment of Global Concentrations of Fine Particulate Matter, Environmental Health Perspectives, in press. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1408646.
To create the final ranking, each state was assigned a score for each of the seven key factors according to their results. Each score was weighted equally except for national parks (which were weighted double) and pollution (which was weighted half). Factor scores were combined to produce an overall score, which was used to rank the states from best to worst for nature lovers.
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