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Top 10 Most Pristine U.S. Environments

Written by: Editorial Staff

April 22, 2011
Filed Under Environment 


One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environmentsContributed by Cara Hartley, Top 10 Guru

Writing about the most pristine environments in the United States presents a conundrum.

These areas remain pristine because the sprawl of civilization has not yet had a detrimental impact on them. The self-created litter and pollution that we go to these places to escape cannot be brought into these areas, or they will lose exactly what makes them so special.

Here is my list of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments:

10. Muskegon Beaches

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

The unassuming and poverty-stricken town of Muskegon has a well-kept secret in their beautiful beaches. With white sand, gently waving grasses, and calm, cold water, Muskegon’s Pere Marquette Beach is one of only three certified “clean beaches” on the Great Lakes.

9. Portland

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

Portland has been nominated by Reader’s Digest as the cleanest city in the United States, thanks in part to the reversion of a freeway into parkland in 1974, fare-free bus and light rail zones, and a revision of the city’s sewage system. According to the Huffington Post, Portland is also the second most bike-friendly city in the nation with over 200 miles of bike lanes; an important contributing factor to its placement on this list. In 2009 Mother Nature Network declared Portland the greenest city in the country.

8. Hanalei Bay

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

Kauai’s Hanalei Bay is an exquisite beach with miles of sand, sparkling blue water, and a gorgeous backdrop of mountains. Surfers, swimmers, and just plain loungers can all find something to enjoy at this magnificent beach.

7. John Muir National Monument

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

The John Muir forest in California is a study in biological diversity; an ecosystem rife with old-growth redwoods, ferns, fungi, birds, bobcats and countless insect life. The forest was dedicated to philosopher John Muir, who left school to attend what he described as “the University of Wildlife,” where he came to the conclusion that human beings are no better or worse than any other forms or life.

6. Orcas Island

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

One of Washington’s many jewels, this horse-shoe shaped island presents an incredible view of the coast of Canada from the top of the 2,409 foot Mount Constitution. Waterfalls, lakes and trails provide access to numerous wildlife, including bald eagles, seals, river otters, whales, dolphins, porpoises, and of course, orcas.

5. Olympic National Forest

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

This area provides some of the most spectacular scenery Washington has to offer. Highway 101 surrounds over 2 million aces of land, which includes the Hoh Rainforest, several mountains, natural hot springs, lowland lakes, and ocean access.

4. Bryce Canyon National Park

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

This park covers thousands of acres of backcountry in Utah; offering visitors the opportunity to hike, bike, camp, fish, or ride horses through beautiful and rugged red rock formations. Natural ampitheaters and red sandstone hoodoos bring tourists from all around the world to this incredible park.

3. Artic National Wildlife Refuge

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

The Artic National Wildlife Refuge is the largest National Wildlife Refuge in the nation. There are no roads within this refuge, although people do live within it. Most people arrive by aircraft. The refuge is home to migratory birds, fish, caribou, polar bears and seals, and has been a hot topic of contention between environmentalists and oil companies. Congressional authorization is required before drilling for oil can commence in the area.

2. Everglades

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

The Everglades may owe its untainted reputation to the habitation of so many dangerous creature in its swamps. The Everglades National Park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the country, home to alligators, crocodiles, caimans, cottonmouths (also known as water mocassins) and rattlesnakes, as well as countless varieties of birds, frogs, turtles, fish and mammals.

1. Yellowstone

One of the top ten most pristine U.S. environments

Yellowstone is the first National Park established in the United States. It crosses three states, and is home to grizzly bears, wolves, elk, and bison. Geysers, hot springs, canyons and mountains attract three million visitors each year. Yellowstone is also home to Old Faithful, an astonishing cone geyser that shoots thousands of gallons of water almost 200 feet into the air.


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