25 Best State Parks In The US

 

It’s tough to pick out the best state parks in the US.

There are so many of them!

There are over 10,000 state parks in the US so it’s nearly impossible to see all of them.

And since we’re outdoor and nature lovers…

We can’t say there are any out there that would be a waste of time to visit.

But we tried our best to find the best ones to add to your bucket list and plan future trips for.

Check out our favorite US state parks below!

 

25) Amicalola State Park

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Location: Dawsonville, Georgia

Amicalola State Park is a beautiful park close to both the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Appalachian Trail.

The name of this park comes from the stunning waterfall of the same name. At 729 feet, Amicalola Falls is the third tallest to the east of the Mississippi River.

It’s one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia so make sure you check it out!

When you are not out on guided hikes, you can hit the fitness trails on your own or do a little archery or ziplining. Don’t forget to pack your GPS for the amazing scavenger hunt this park has!

 

24) Sand Harbor State Park

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Location: Incline Village, Nevada

Most people have The Strip of Las Vegas on their minds when visiting Nevada…

But they have amazing state parks too!

Sand Harbor State Park is a must-see for everyone, so make sure it’s on your list of things to do!

This state park happens to be part of Lake Tahoe, so you know it has to be special in more ways than one.

The best things to do in Sand Harbor State Park include boat rides, fishing, waterskiing, swimming, and kayaking.

 

23) Silver Falls State Park

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Location: Marion County, Oregon

Silver Falls State Park is the crown jewel of parks in the state of Oregon. The waterfalls are the features that make this park special.

And it’s one of the few places where you can actually walk behind a waterfall!

The best trail to walk through is the Trail of Ten Falls. The trail takes you to the South Falls and leads you to a 177-foot curtain of water you can enter from the back!

The entire trail is over seven miles, so make sure you start early in the day.

There are thirty-five miles of more trails in the park when you’re done. So make some time to do a little hiking, biking, or horseback riding along those.

Just make sure you steer clear of the cougars and bears that live in the remote areas!

 

22) Mueller State Park

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Location: Teller County, Colorado

Mueller State Park contains more than five thousand acres of land in the state of Colorado.

With over 50 miles of trails, you’ll have the chance to see plenty of amazing nature. You’ll see lush forests, massive meadows, and plenty of wildlife that lives everywhere.

Other fun activities include birdwatching, biking, and taking a scenic drive. During the winter months, you can also do a little snowshoeing.

It’s definitely one of the best spots to see in Colorado!

 

21) Hanging Rock State Park

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Location: Stokes County, North Carolina

Hanging Rock State Park is one of the best state parks in North Carolina. This park has been around since the 1930s and it’s been an outdoor wonderland ever since.

There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails and over 8 miles of biking trails. And you can paddle along the beautiful Dan River.

Add in rock climbing, camping, and some time at the park museum, and your days will never be boring during your visit.

 

20) Wallace Falls State Park

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Location: Snohomish County, Washington

Wallace Falls State Park has spectacular waterfalls, lush forests, and lakes.

The main attraction within this state park is the 265-foot waterfall. There is an awesome area that allows you to climb to the three different levels of Wallace Falls.

There are also 12 miles of hiking trails to explore the forests and lakes in this beautiful park.

 

19) Chimney Rock State Park

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Location: Rutherford County, North Carolina

Chimney Rock State Park is a great park for families with lots of activities. And it’s also a gorgeous park that nature lovers will want to visit more than once.

The best view comes from the main attraction, Chimney Rock. But this park has tons of other incredible views and many hiking trails to keep you busy.

Some of the best hikes include the Exclamation Point Trail, Skyline Trail, or the Great Woodland Adventure Trail. The climbing tower will take you to some of the best views too!

If you’re bringing kids, the park has The Animal Discovery Den to keep the kids occupied.

 

18) Hot Springs State Park

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Location: Thermopolis, Wyoming

Hot Springs State Park is one of the favorite outdoor spots to visit in the beautiful state of Wyoming.

A must-see feature at this park is the terraces near the Big Horn River at Thermopolis. Water flows over them from the mineral hot springs 24 hours a day. That is the same hot spring water that’s found within the free bathhouse.

When you’re not soaking in the hot spring water, you can walk along 6 miles of trails. Make sure you make time to walk across the Swinging Bridge. It’s a suspension footbridge over the Big Horn River that provides the best views of the area!

If you’re visiting during the off-season, you can drive to where they feed the bison every morning. You must stay in your car during the feedings, but you can still see these amazing creatures up close.

 

17) Roan Mountain State Park

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Location: Carter County, Tennessee

Roan Mountain State Park lies at the base of Roan Mountain in the state of Tennessee. There are around 2000 acres of land that’s filled with trees, cliffs, and the winding Doe River.

There are over 12 miles of hiking trails at this beautiful park. Wildlife and wildflowers are everywhere, so make sure you’re camera is ready!
If you are looking for some rest and relaxation, grab your fishing pole. The park is a great spot for trout fishing when the weather allows it.

 

16) Makoshika State Park

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Location: Glendive, Montana

Makoshika State Park is the largest park in the state of Montana. The word makoshika means bad land or bad earth. So it’s no surprise that this park covered in amazing badland formations.

Make sure to stop at the visitor center to learn a little about the park’s history. You’ll hear some cool facts about the dinosaurs that lived there thousands in the past.

The best activities at the park include hiking the trails and the dinosaur trail. But you can also take a scenic drive, watch performances at the amphitheater, and do a little archery.

You may want to plan your visit according to the Buzzard Day Festival that’s held every June.

 

15) Kachemak Bay State Park

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Location: Kachemak Bay, Alaska

Kachemak Bay State Park is Alaska’s first state park and makes up around 400,000 acres of land!

The best features of the park include China Poot Lake, Humpy Creek, Poot Peak, and Grewingk Glacier. Make sure you make time for these!

The variety of wildlife the park has to offer is another great feature. You’ll see dozens of different animal species as you are hiking along the trails in this state park.

A few you will want to keep an eye out for include moose, black bears, mountain goats, seals, sea otters, and whales.

The weather inside this state park is always changing, so make sure you pack for all types of weather!

 

14) Palo Duro Canyon State Park

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Location: Canyon, Texas

Palo Duro Canyon State Park is home to the second-largest canyon in the United States. Make sure you check it out someday!

One of the best things to do inside this state park is to explore the canyon, whether by foot, bike, car, or horse. Geocaching is another popular activity in the park. Bring your GPS when you visit if you want to find all the hidden treasures of the park.

During the summer, the park hosts its Texas Outdoor Musical, at its amphitheater. You can see the musical Tuesday through Saturday and it’s a fun time!

 

13) Ecola State Park

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Location: Clatsop County, Oregon

This beautiful state park in Oregon stretches along 9 miles of the West Coast. On one end you’ll find Seaside Beach, while the other end offers the sandy delights of Cannon Beach.

Hiking trails in the park offer beautiful sights and plenty of photo opportunities. You’ll find some secluded coves, an abandoned lighthouse, and forested promontories. And you’ll definitely see some great wildlife sightings while you’re hiking.

Oh, and if you love to surf, you need to take some time to check out Indian Beach!

 

12) Devil’s Lake State Park

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Location: Baraboo, Wisconsin

Devil’s Lake State Park is the most popular state park in Wisconsin. About 3 million people visit the park each year!

There are more than 9000 acres of gorgeous nature within the park, so there is plenty of land to explore.

Your day at the park can involve relaxing at the beach, hike on the trails, or go out on a kayak or canoe.

Add in a visit to the nature center to learn more about the animals that live in the area and the history of the park. You’ll learn some cool facts along the way!

 

11) Custer State Park

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Location: Custer, South Dakota

Custer State Park is in the Black Hills of South Dakota and has more than 70,000 acres of land.

The park has tons of rolling plains, as well as huge peaks made of granite. The beautiful lakes sparkle under the sun and it’s a very calm, relaxing place to disconnect.

A few activities to do in the park include hiking, swimming, fishing, and biking. There’s also elk and bison roaming the grounds so have your camera ready!

 

10) Smith Rock State Park

best state parks in the US
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Location: Terrebonne, Oregon

Smith Rock State Park is another one of Oregon’s state parks that made our list. This is a great park to visit if you want to see the river canyons and do a little rock climbing.

In fact, there are more than 1000 climbs available in this park and most of them have bolted routes.

If you’re not up for rock climbing…

You can also go on the hiking trails to see the wildlife and all the beauty of the park. You’ll have a chance to spot eagles and falcons in the sky and the river otters, beavers, and mule deer on the ground.

 

9) Baxter State Park

best state parks in the US
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Location: Millinocket, Maine

Percival P. Baxter purchased a large amount of land in the 1930s to create a park for the people of Maine to enjoy.

Today, Baxter State Park has over two hundred miles of hiking trails and over 300 campsites.

When you’re not hiking, you can spend your hours paddling, biking, and checking out the wildlife.

The park offers some of the best camping in the country and it’s a great place for a family trip.

 

8) Goosenecks State Park

best state parks in the US
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Location: Mexican Hat, Utah

Goosenecks State Park has amazing natural rock features that formed over the last 300 million years.

The best views from this state park include Alhambra Rock and Monument Valley

When you are not hiking the Honaker Trail, you might want to go for a bike ride or stop to take a few pictures.

Add in some stargazing under the nighttime sky and you’ll make some great memories at this park.

 

7) Staunton State Park

best state parks in the US
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Location: Pine, Colorado

Staunton State Park is the newest of all Colorado’s state parks and it didn’t open to the public until May of 2013.

But it’s just as impressive as the older parks.

Some of the grassy meadows in the park are at elevations of more than 8000 feet. And the park also has granite cliffs that measure in at over 10,000 feet!

The park holds many different events and activities like the track chair program and bike bell program. So make sure you plan to check them out during your visit.

 

6) Tallulah Gorge State Park

best state parks in the US
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Location: Tallulah Falls, Georgia

Tallulah Gorge State Park is a massive park in Georgia, and it’s quite the sight to see. The gorge might be one of the prettiest sights to see in the country!

There are 20 miles of trails to hike through the gorge. The most popular trails involve more than 900 hundred steps and time down on the gorge floor.

The suspension bridge is another amazing feature that people love to walk over. Have your camera ready because the bridge has the best views of the park!

Other activities at the park include archery, geocaching, paddling, and swimming.

 

5) Valley of Fire State Park

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Location: Overton, Nevada

The Valley of Fire State Park is another Nevada state park that gets left in the dust sometimes. But it’s one of the best parks in the country!

This is an excellent park to visit if you want to learn about history and geology.

Some of the park’s features include Aztec sandstone in reds, grays, and tans. There’s also petrified trees, amazing rock formations, and prehistoric rock carvings. It easily makes our top 10 state parks!

The best time to visit is during the Annual Atlatl Competition. There you’ll get a chance to try your hand at using replicas of ancient spears!

 

4) Waimea Canyon State Park

best state parks in the US
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Location: Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon State Park is on the Hawaiin island of Kauai and one of the most beautiful canyons you’ll ever see!

The canyon is around 3,000 feet deep and about 10 miles long!

Take advantage of the park’s trails to see the amazing views of the Waimea Canyon and Ni’ihau Island.

While there is a short nature trail, many people skip it to tackle the longer one that leads in and out of the canyon. If you have time to do both, then do it!

 

3) Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park

best state parks in the US
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Location: Crescent City, California

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is one of the most popular places to see redwoods in California. This beautiful state park is a few miles away from the ocean and it’s a favorite of the locals.

There are many activities to do within the park’s 10,000 acres. But some of the favorites are walking the 20 miles of trails or driving along Howland Hill Road.

Pay attention when you are checking out the Smith River National Recreational Area. You may recognize many spots from scenes of the Last of the Mohicans filmed back in 1936.

 

2) Dead Horse Point State Park

best state parks in the US
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Location: Moab, Utah

Dead Horse Point State Park is another popular park in the state of Utah. The park is like a miniature Grand Canyon that the Colorado River flows through.

The best views of the park are 2000 miles above the Colorado River. There are plenty of spots on the hiking trails that give you great views of the river and canyons. The massive cliffs and canyons are breathtaking and you need to take plenty of pictures.

Hiking is one of the most popular activities at this park. But you might also find yourself mountain biking or gazing at the nighttime sky at some point.

 

1) Porcupine Mountains State Park

best state parks in the us
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Location: Ontonagon County, Michigan

Porcupine Mountains State Park is the largest state park in Michigan and makes up almost 60,000 acres of land.

This park has tons of hiking trails, waterfalls, and gorgeous nature. There are even some views of the shores of Lake Superior nearby.

A few must-see items at the park include Lake of the Clouds, Presque Isle River, and the Summit Peak observation tower.

Whenever you’re not hiking or taking in the views, you can play a little disc golf or go skiing.

 

Conclusion

Well, we hope you’re able to make some time for these state parks in your future travel plans.

They’re amazing sights to see!

Have you visited any of these beauties and can vouch for them? Or are there some other state parks that you think we missed on the list?

Let us know about it in the comment section!

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