Every year, over 1.9 million runners lace up for over 2,800 half marathons held in the United States.. Training for a half marathon is arduous. On average, an individual will spend between 50 and 80 hours running in preparation for a half marathon. And that doesn’t include the time warming up, cooling down, fueling, or complaining about how dark/cold/wet/dry/hot it is outside. We have millions of runners visit the Half Marathon Guide per year who are dedicating themselves to the physical and emotional task of running 13.1 miles. With such time invested, it’s no wonder the most frequent request we get from readers is to point them toward the most scenic half marathons in the country.
Well, ask no further. These scenic half marathons in the United States will reward you with the best views for all your training efforts.
- The OC Half Marathon on May 7, 2023
- The Kauai Half Marathon on September 3, 2023
- Monterey Bay Half Marathon on November 13, 2023
- Crater Lake Rim Runs Half Marathon in August 2023
- Boulderthon on October 8, 2023
- Malibu Half Marathon on November 5, 2023
- Grand Teton Half Marathon on June 3, 2023
- Sedona Half Marathon on February 4, 2023
- Steamboat Half Marathon on June 4, 2023
- Run The Bluegrass Half Marathon on May 20, 2023
- Rocky Mountain Half Marathon on July 29, 2023
- Bar Harbor Half Marathon on September 16, 2023
- Monument Half Marathon on September 30, 2023
The OC Marathon in Newport Beach, CA
Our top pick for the most scenic half marathon in the United States is bestowed upon the legendary OC Marathon in Newport Beach, California. It’s not hard to articulate why. While other races may offer you cacti, mountain ranges, rivers, or bridges, the OC Marathon offers you a non-stop look at the most spectacular coastal sights.
By the end of the thirteen miles, runners will have run on the Pacific Coastal Highway, seen the opulent homes on Ocean Boulevard, breathed in the salty air of the Pacific Ocean, and jogged through the calming coastal communities that make Orange County so scenic. You just can’t find a better fairytale half marathon in the entire country.
The Kauai Half Marathon in Kauai, HI
The Kauai Half Marathon begins at the resort area of Poipu Beach and takes runners on a tour of classic Hawaiian landscapes. From sandy beaches and lush jungle-like rain forests to rich green-covered mountains, and flowing rivers and waterfalls.
What stands out to most runners of this race is the “Tunnel of Trees,” a stretch of road mirrored on both sides by eucalyptus trees planted 150 years ago by Scottish immigrant cattle ranchers.
Monterey Bay Half Marathon in Monterey, CA
For sheer natural beauty and dramatic coastal scenery, it’s impossible to top this race. You’ll get to run past the deep blues and greens of the Pacific Ocean crashing along the coastline. The kelp beds swaying back and forth with the waves, and the seagulls floating along the breeze. You may even catch a glimpse of seals and sea lions out on the large rocks in the water.
Crater Lake Rim Runs Half Marathon in Crater Lake, OR
Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park is filled with rugged Pacific Northwest mountain terrain that encircles one of the country’s most majestic and beautiful lakes.. This late-summer race takes runners around the rim of Crater Lake at altitudes ranging from 5,980 to 7,850 feet above sea level. To give participants the most tranquil experience, the race is limited to 500 participants so you won’t have to push or shove a neighboring runner to take in the views from the course.
Boulderthon in Boulder, CO
Boulder has long been recognized nationally for its ranking as one of the Best Places to Live by US News & World Report, but has found a new accolade of hosting one of the most beautiful half marathons in America, Boulderthon. Only in its second year of running, the race is quickly becoming the most popular in Colorado with over 5,000 runners. The race begins at the Boulder Reservoir before taking runners along the Flatirons, the striking red sandstone formations on Boulder’s west side, with a finish on historic Pearl Street Mall. The race is touted as having the charm and attention to detail of a boutique race and the production quality of a big one. Boulderthon is one you should not miss.
October 8, 2023 | Register
Malibu Half Marathon in Malibu, CA
Rocky bluffs, sandy beaches, waves crashing against the shoreline, and plenty of rugged hills await on the point-to-point route along the Pacific Coast Highway at this fall race. The course takes runners along the Malibu coastline, where they’ll take in natural views of the Pacific Ocean as well as the elegant architecture of beachfront homes owned by some of Hollywood’s biggest names.
Grand Teton Half Marathon in Jackson, WY
During the winter, Jackson Hole is a skier’s paradise. During the summer, it becomes a runner’s paradise. In the month of June, the lush backdrop of the Grand Teton Mountains, the crystal clear waters of the Snake River, and the natural wildlife make this a one-of-a-kind scenic half marathon.
As a reminder, the course does take place at 6,000 feet above sea level. At higher altitudes, a runner may find themselves winded easily on the course – but don’t let that dissuade you; just run slower!
Sedona Half Marathon in Sedona, AZ
The most famous outdoor concert venue in the country is the Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver. It’s a massive, open-air amphitheater carved right into the rock structure – the type of stark, colorful rock for which Sedona is most known. The Sedona Half Marathon takes 2,000 runners through the heart of central Arizona’s mountain valleys and red rock spires.
Steamboat Half Marathon in Steamboat Springs, CO
The Steamboat Half Marathon doesn’t often end up on many of these scenic or beautiful half marathon lists – and we think that’s a mistake! Back in 2006, it was named one of the best destination half marathons by Runner’s World and declared the state’s best by Colorado Runner Magazine. We’re advocating for its comeback!
The course takes runners through Hahns Peak and Elk River Valley on a gently cascading downhill course sporting lush green as far as the eye can see.
Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon in Lexington, KY
Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon in Lexington is self-declared “America’s Prettiest Half Marathon,” and we’re not going to argue with a title like that.
The race location will be familiar to any film buffs who’ve seen Seabiscuit, as the race takes runners through the fenced-in pastures that house some of the world’s most impressive racehorses. Take your inspiration from these racing champions as you trot over a lot of green, grassy hills.
Rocky Mountain Half Marathon in Estes Park, CO
Befitting the name of the race, the Rocky Mountain Half Marathon offers runners daunting views of the Rocky Mountains in every direction.
Like other scenic half marathons that offer views of the mountains, it goes without saying that this race also takes place at a high elevation above sea level. The course will have runners at over 7,400 feet above sea level—a dramatic increase over our next-highest race in the Tetons at 6,000 feet.
Bar Harbor Bank & Trust Half Marathon in Bar Harbor, ME
As of the most historic places in the United States, Europeans visited Bar Harbor 16 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. The Bar Harbor Bank & Trust Half Marathon is also one of the only half marathons to run through the grounds of a U.S. National Park — Maine’s Acadia National Park. The grounds of this September race offer a bit of history as well, as philanthropist John D. Rockefeller built around 45 miles of carriage roads through Acadia National Park between 1913 and 1940.
Monument Half Marathon in Scottsbluff, NE
Run through a gorgeous, rocky landscape that is home to historic stretches of the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail. This early fall race features a 13.1-miler and 5-kilometer race in addition to its flagship 26.2-miler.
All of the races take runners through the 3,000-acre Scotts Bluff National Monument. Like Sedona, the Monument Half Marathon is all about the rock formations. If you want some Midwestern green in your rocky half marathons, this Nebraska half might be the right scenic race for you.
What makes a most scenic half marathon
The United States has some of the most diverse natural scenery of any country in the world. You can see skyscrapers in New York, Tokyo, or Dubai. We chose half marathons whose scenery was unique enough that it couldn’t be seen elsewhere in the country or world. We also made sure the course for running the half marathon offered ideal views of the scenery.
Where are the most scenic half marathons?
From our list, there are three in California, two in Colorado, and one in Hawaii, Oregon, Wyoming, Arizona, Kentucky, Maine, and Nebraska.
This article was produced in partnership with the OC Marathon.