50 Stunning, Scenic USA Marathons


Stunning, scenic, breath-taking, gorgeous, inspiring vistas that carry you along — and in a wink or two, you’ll have bagged a marathon to remember for a lifetime!

Sound enticing?

Why not tie your vacation plans together with a marathon to die for? The country is filled to the rim with beauties for your pickin’.

The following list is brought to you by YOU — that’s right!


What did I do? Selected what I determined to be the best from your reviews and pictures — one for each state.

If you have ran any of the following, plus others from that state and you believe another to be the most scenic, please connect with me and send me a picture or two. I will happily update this list with your recommendations!

50 Marathons To Add To Your Bucket List

Below this infographic you will find each of the following marathons listed by the month they are run in — with the reviews and associated websites to register.

Scan these babies and envision YOU running them — perhaps even all 50?!

Have your heard of The MARATHON MANIACS and 50 STATES CLUB? Marathon Maniacs Club

Or if 50 Marathons in 50 states sounds NUTS – how about the 50 STATES HALF MARATHON CHALLENGE? Half Marathon Club

By the way, stay tuned for Part II of this article (subscribe if you’re not already subscribed)!

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  1. Binge Racing: 4 Races in 8 days & Lived To Tell! (+ Running Links & Deals) « Erica Finds… - July 29, 2012

    […] I also found 50 Stunning and Scenic US Marathons – one in each state. Even though I have done 33 marathons, I have only done 2 on this list […]

  2. Doris Blanchet - July 25, 2012

    Lorri Kane Randle via https://www.facebook.com/lorrirandle

    I don’t know, for Utah the St. George is nice, but the Utah Valley is super nice as well as canyonlands. I want to run all the marathons in Utah-that is my first bucket list!

    My Reply:
    I just compared the MarathonGuide reviews for both and the site description. The Utah Valley sounds STUNNING!!! Thank you for the heads up Lorri!

  3. Doris Blanchet - July 25, 2012

    Via Travis Lewis from LinkedIn’s Marathon Finisher Group:

    This September marks the 50th running of the Equinox Marathon here in Fairbanks, Alaska.

    It’s roughly 75% trail 25% road. At the 1/2 way point you reach the top of a 2k foot climb and the views are awesome!

    For more info, http://www.equinoxmarathon.com

  4. Doris Blanchet - July 18, 2012

    From Matthew Day via LinkedIn(Ultra-Running Lovers )

    Highland Sky 40 miler (West Virginia) is a bit more than a marathon…but it is a nice trail run into and through the Dolly Sod wilderness.

  5. Doris Blanchet - July 18, 2012

    From John (Jack) McPheron via LinkedIn(Marathon Runners )

    Steamtown is an amazingly beautiful marathon featuring a perfect course for PRs.

    The race is not too crowded, yet features pretty good crowd support throughout the whole race.

    I highly recommend it. It was my first marathon and it definitely won’t be the last time I do that race.

  6. Jack McPheron - July 18, 2012

    Such an awesome compilation! Definitely going to be bookmarking this for future marathons and completing my 50 in 50. Another great one to look at for Montana is the Missoula Marathon. Beautiful race, great value, amazing people, and you get a local craft brew at the finish:) I go back every year.

  7. Jonathan Howland - July 18, 2012

    You ought to check your Massachusetts entry. Cape Cod is indeed a beautiful course, but “magical red rock formations?” Cranberries, maybe, but no red rocks. And I like Falmouth, but I don’t think we’ve been named one of the ten most beautiful cities in the US.

    • Doris Blanchet - July 18, 2012

      Hi Jonathan!

      What the beach has no magical rock formation?! But – I’ve already booked my marathon and accomodation?! Now what do I do? 😉

      Thank you for pointing this error out. The overlay has been amended.

      My Kindest Regards,

      ~ Doris.

  8. Courtney - July 17, 2012

    Oustanding highlights of some terrific places to run. Grandma’s marathon is a beautiful race ran between Two Harbors and Duluth, MN each June. It was my first marathon, I am getting ready for the TC Marathon this fall. But next I am hoping and planning to run the Mount Desert Island marathon in Maine. At heart I am a trail runner, I love the beauty and quiet gentleness of nature and being able to visit Acadia Park National and terrific of New England’s fall colors isn’t to bad either!

    • Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012

      Hi Courney!

      Thank you for your comment and recommendation. I was definitely considering Grandma’s marathon! So many of these states have so many incredibly, beautiful sounding experiences.

      I would love to hear your review of the TC Marathon! (in particular ‘prettiness factor’ compared to Grandma’s) 🙂

      I get trail running and the quietness – and in my neck of the woods – the incredible attention one has to pay to every footstep. The miles seem to ‘fly’ by.

      I LOVE FALL and every time the fall splendour of the East comes up, a tiny little shiver crawls up my spine. One day!!!

      BTW If you get any beautiful pics of your marathons – please send them my way – I would be very grateful!

      Here – I have to give you this link .. I created it last night and as I read your words I thought of it ..

      Thank you again for your comments ..

      ~ Doris.

  9. Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012


    Paul Vasta, Ph.D. via Linked In (Marathon Finisher Group)
    I ran the Little Rock Marathon this year and I thought it was great.

    The first and last 10k are pretty urban, but the middle is scenic through some nice neighborhoods and woody areas. The race is not huge in terms of number of runners, but the support was great.

    I would recommend it.

    My Reply:
    Thank you Paul for your recommendation. I will review it with any other marathon for Arkansas that is received.

    So far, for Arkansas we have:

    * Midsouth Marathon

    * Little Rock Marathon

    ~ Doris.

  10. Heather - July 17, 2012

    There are some great marathons in Georgia.

    Least among them? the Georgia Marathon.

    I am surprised to see it.

    Atlanta is better, and even it’s not in a category with some of these others.

    • Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012

      Hi Heather,

      Thank you for your feedback and suggestion.

      It is from YOU marathoners that have run these races – your reviews and images that I have based the selections on.
      If anyone has great pics of other marathons and great reviews – based on prettiness factor, I would be grateful for all information.

      Going by marathon pictures and reviews of marathoners that have run these races – and primarily made at MarathonGuide.com I have observed the following about the Georgia and Atlanta:

      Georgia 2011 via MarathonGuide.com:
      * The course is hilly but the city did a great job entertaining the runners along the course.

      * Great course support, loved the ‘hydration stations’, beautiful, interesting course, great volunteers..perfect first marathon!! Run it!!!

      * It is a charming up and down urban course through university campus, upscale neighborhoods and overall a very enjoyable run.

      * This was a beautiful race. The hills never stop, but there were so many people to cheer for runners.

      * Course was very hilly and scenic. Lots to look at with some really great groups of people cheering you on along the way.

      Atlanta 2011 via MarathonGuide.com:
      * The Atlanta Marathon is a worthwhile, well-run race but it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime experience like some other big city races.

      * Pretty residential neighborhoods: mainly in the second half of the race.

      * Dead spots: It’s the nature of Atlanta: to get from point A to point B you often have to go through boring if not desolate areas.

      * The Georgia Marathon course goes through many small neighborhoods and has many rolling up hills and downhills. The Atlanta Marathon goes on the main roads and it felt like there were no downhills to recover from the uphills.
      A well organized marathon on a great circular course.

      I would be VERY happy to explore further suggestions or other information I have missed?

      ~ Doris.

  11. Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012

    From Edna Turner via Linked In:

    Absolutely awesome post! Thanks for sharing. I have completed 11 so far, and Portland OR and Richmond VA are my favs so far, but looks like the ones you posted for those states are prettier. Have Manchester NH this Nov. Will look at some of these listed for 2013!


    Hi Doris, I plan on joining the 50 State Club hopefully next year. It’s realistically just a dream though, as doing 2-3 a year, I’ll be in my 90’s if God gives me the physical ability to keep running, ha, ha. I’ve got a running friend that wants to go to Napa Valley and Outer Banks “one of these days.” One of our running teammates is at Napa this weekende and says it’s gorgeous and 52 degrees. Nice change from upper 90’s here in Dallas.

    Thank you Edna!

  12. Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012

    7/15/2012 From April Marshall on Linked In Running (2500+) Group
    Wonderful list Doris and thank you for sharing the information. Glad to see that New River is listed and, of course, I would add Grandfather Mountain and the Outer Banks. (Have to support the beautiful scenery in my home state).
    You have listed some wonderful opportunities and I know it is greatly appreciated.

    7/17/2012 From April Marshall on Linked In Running (2500+) Group
    Thank you Doris. You provide so many wonderful resources. For West Virginia, I would say the Marshall University Marathon (only about half of the route is scenic, but still a very special event). Arkansas has a smaller, but totally rural course in the Midsouth Marathon that might be of interest.

    Much appreciation again for all your efforts, research and great suggestions.

  13. Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012

    From: Louisiana Northshore

    St. Tammany Parish has some FANTASTIC places to run–we should be on your list! Check out some of the runs by one local running club, the 15th Street Flyers: http://​www.15thstreetflyers.org/

  14. Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012

    Thank you to Philip E Min for kindly correcting 2 states for me and offering suggestions:

    The Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon (actually Georgia) has been replaced with the Flying Monkey Marathon.


    For Georgia then I have 2 options according to your reviews: The Georgia Marathon OR the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon.

    The Blue Ridge Marathon reviews had me place this marathon as a pretty one, however I had it placed under West Virigina – which it is NOT. The Blue Ridge Marathon is a Virginia marathon.

    NOW I HAVE A HOLE FOR EST VIRGINIA- and Philip suggested the Marshall University Marathon for West Virginia. But I am not entirely convinced. Your reviews say that marathon is 60% scene, 40% business. Also it is a double loop. Other comments: http://www.marathonguide.com/races/racedetails.cfm?MIDD=2207101107



    The Charlottesville Marathon OR the Blue Ridge Marathon?


    • Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012

      From Philip E Min – through this site’s Facebook page:
      You might look at Ridge Runner in WV.

      I have not done it, but get good reports. I try to recommend ones that are logistically good as well.

      BTW they did not have Parke County this year and I don’t know if it will return. The RDs wife died (you may know this) and he really had MAJOR problems getting enough people to staff the thing. I did it and it is pretty, but it was pretty roughly run. One of the few that I would not recommend except to the most adventurous.

      My Reply
      Hi Philip .. the reviews for the Ridge Runner sound good.

      However, I cant seem to find a website for this marathon. The MarathonGuide simply lists the park site – and I cannot see any mention of that marathon on that site. Also – I found interesting this review .. doesnt list a 2012 date for the marathon: http://findmymarathon.com/compare.php?compareName1=Ridge+Runner+Marathon&compareName2=Sunburst+Marathon

      Also, re: Parke County – I didn’t know that about the RDs wife – and I didn’t know that it was cancelled. I haven’t seen any mention of that. I only see that it was scheduled.

      Thank you for the suggestions.

      ~ Doris

  15. Krissy - July 17, 2012

    The Arkansas River Bluegrass Marathon is in COLORADO, not Arkansas!

    • Doris Blanchet - July 17, 2012

      Hi Krissy – of course the “Arkansas River Bluegrass Marathon” is not in Arkansas.

      That makes TOTAL sense to me!*@ 😉

      Thank you for clarifying ‘The Arkansas River Bluegrass Marathon’ takes place in COLORADO. (It does sound STUNNING however “Race with a view! A scenic USATF certified coarse with live bluegrass music, beer and food.”!)

      I am looking now for HELP and suggestions for THE MOST STUNNING MARATHON IN ARKANSAS – ANYONE? 🙂

      Your help is MUCH appreciated!

      ~ Doris.

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