The Best State Park In Each State

Our national parks get a lot of love. I mean, who doesn't love the Grand Canyon, Yosemite or Joshua Tree? But there are also a lot of great state parks that are worth a visit. In fact, there are 10,336 in the country, so if you're feeling ambitious, you can try to visit them all! Just in case you aren't going to go to all 10,000, we put together this list of must-sees in each state.


Cheaha State Park (Delta, AL): This park is on the eastern side of Alabama, spanning almost 2,800 acres. There are hiking trails, great spots for picnicking and swimming, and the Cheaha Mountain - the highest point in the state.


Chugach State Park (Anchorage, AK): There are only two other state parks in the nation that are larger than this one (and one of them is also in Alaska!). With the Eklutna Lake, Eagle River, mountains and glaciers, there are so many things to do. You may even spot a bear!


Tonto Natural Bridge State Park (Payson, AZ): This park is home to the largest natural travertine (a type of limestone) bridge in the world. Along with the 400 ft tunnel, there are different hiking trails and a recreation area.


Petit Jean State Park (Morrilton, AR): Pronounced "Petty Jeen," this state park is the gravesite of a French woman who disguised herself as a young man in order to join the exploration of the Louisiana Territory. There is a canyon with a waterfall that cascades over the top, along with Lake Bailey - the perfect spot for fishing.


Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (Big Sur, CA): This cove has the most beautiful, turquoise water, just at the end of McWay Falls - an 80-foot waterfall. This state park is also home to quite a few redwood trees, a California staple.


Rifle Falls State Park (Rifle, CO): We haven't decided if this park is more beautiful in the summer or winter (or both?). There are three waterfalls that flow into a creek, which is an awesome spot to catch some rainbow trout. In the winter, the waterfalls freeze mid-fall!


Sleeping Giant State Park (Hamden, CT): This little mountain resembles a large person taking a nap (hence the name), and it offers a variety of hiking trails to the top, campsites and special spots for horseback riding or cross country skiing.


Cape Henlopen State Park (Lewes, DE): Right on the cape, this state park is a popular fishing and surfing spot in Delaware. During World War II, there was an Army base inside the park, and quite a bit is left over since then, including observation towers, bunkers and lighthouses.


Ichetucknee Springs State Park (Fort White, FL): Surrounding the Ichetucknee River is this state park, which is home to wetlands and a few natural springs. Since the water is so clear, it's the perfect spot for floating, swimming or snorkeling.


Tallulah Gorge State Park (Tallulah Falls, GA): Located in northern Georgia, this state park is home to a 1,000-foot deep gorge, six different waterfalls that flow into it, and plenty of trees and wildlife to keep you busy!


Nā Pali Coast State Park (Kapaa, HI): You get it all at this park - ocean, beaches, mountains and forest. Although you can't get there in a car, this state park is accessible by hiking, helicopter, kayaking or paddle board, and camping is allowed with the proper permits.


Priest Lake State Park (Coolin, ID): In northern Idaho, just 30 miles from the Canadian border, sits the Priest Lake, with crystal clear water and mountains all around. Watch out for black bears, white-tailed deer and moose while hanging out here!


Starved Rock State Park (Oglesby, IL): This state park is home to 18 separate canyons, some with waterfalls and little pools at the bottom. There is no shortage of things to do here - horseback riding and even tobogganing in the winter.


Brown County State Park (Nashville, IN): This park is known for its amazing views of the rolling hills of Indiana. There's a wide variety of trees in the area, and while it's beautiful all year round, the views are unlike any other during the fall when the colors of the leaves start to change.


Maquoketa Caves State Park (Maquoketa, IA): This park has the most caves out of all of the state parks in Iowa. There are hiking trails that connect them all to each other, giving you a scenic trail to follow along. The caves are accessible, but watch out for bats!


Wilson State Park (Sylvan Grove, KS): This state park is home to rock formations surrounding the Wilson Lake Reservoir. It's the perfect place for most outdoor activities, including biking, hiking, camping and kayaking.


Natural Bridge State Resort Park (Slade, KY): You could probably tell by the name, but in the middle of this park stands a completely natural sandstone bridge. There are quite a few other cliffs and rock formations making this a really cool place to hike around.


Fontainebleau State Park (Mandeville, LA): This park is known for its giant oak trees that are draped with Spanish moss. Three sides of the park are water, giving it awesome beaches, fishing spots and play areas.


Baxter State Park (Millinocket, ME): A bit of an exception, since this park is independently funded, but the "forever wild" park runs on the philosophy that nothing should impair the enjoyment of others or wildlife. This is the perfect place for a serene hike or night of camping.


Assateague State Park (Berlin, MD): This beachside state park is home to wild horses - right on the sand. Come here to hang out in the sun and water, and don't be surprised if you get a visit from a horse!


Boston Harbor Islands State Park (Boston, MA): A little bit of a cheat since it's part of a national park (which is why I included an honorable mention), but this state park is made up of 13 islands along the Boston harbor. This is an awesome spot to lay on the beach, tour lighthouses and other historical monuments, or check out the wildlife and birds.

Honorable Mention - Bash Bish Falls State Park (Mt. Washington, MA): This state park is home to the highest waterfall in Massachusetts, along with hiking trails, forests, swimming holes and lots of wildlife.


Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Ontonagon, MI): This little bunch of mountains are home to hiking trails and a large area of old-growth forest right on the edge of Lake Superior. In the winter, there's even a ski area!


Tettegouche State Park (Silver Bay, MN): Also on the edge of Lake Superior, this state park has six separate lakes in it. It also has the highest waterfall entirely in Minnesota, along with 22 miles of hiking trails. Since it's quite snowy in this area, there is also a trail specifically for snowmobiles and ATVs.


Tishomingo State Park (Tishomingo County, MS): This park is famous for Bear Creek Canyon and the swinging bridge that hangs over it. There are also seven different hiking trails, varying in length and difficulty, along with lots of areas for rock climbing.


Ha Ha Tonka State Park (Camdenton, MO): Being originally from Missouri, I can personally confirm how awesome this state park is. Along with the caves, bluffs and a lake to explore, there is a hiking trail with a reward at the end - what still remains of a castle the burned down in the 1940s.


Makoshika State Park (Glendive, MT): The largest state park in Montana is made up of 11,000 acres of badlands and rock formations. The park is known for the dinosaur fossils that were found there (and can still be viewed by visitors).


Fort Robinson State Park (Crawford, NE): A historic Army base, a river and scenic campgrounds all on the grounds of this state park. There's plenty to do here - horseback riding, hiking and Old West tours!


Valley of Fire State Park (Overton, NV): One of the more famous state parks, Valley of Fire is made up of red sand dunes. Some of them have streaks of white through them, giving this place a truly unique look and feel.

New Hampshire

Mount Washington State Park (Sargent's Purchase, NH): This state park sits at the top of the Northeast's highest peak, Mount Washington. At the top, there's an amazing view and the Mount Washington Observatory, a weather observation station.

New Jersey

High Point State Park (Sussex, NJ): At the top of the highest point in New Jersey is the High Point Monument, dedicated to war veterans. The hike to the top is rewarded not only by the monument, but also by the scenic views of the rolling hills that surround High Point.

New Mexico

City of Rocks State Park (Faywood, NM): Created by a volcanic eruption around 35 million years ago, these unique rock formations offer a great place for hiking and rock climbing. This is also one of the best places in New Mexico for stargazing!

New York

Niagara Falls State Park (Niagara Falls, NY): Of course, the obvious choice, but I couldn't talk about state parks and not include Niagara Falls. This ginormous waterfall is a must-see.

North Carolina

Jockey's Ridge State Park (Nags Head, NC): You get three in one at this state park! Not only is it home to the tallest active sand dunes in the US, but there is also a forest and a water ecosystem, meaning you'll probably see many different types of wildlife. One of the most popular activities is hang gliding over the sand dues, but there are a lot of other things to do as well!

North Dakota

Little Missouri State Park (Dunn Center, ND): These badlands, right on the edge of the Little Missouri River, offer 47 miles of hiking trails, plenty of campsites, and incredibly scenic views.


Hocking Hills State Park (Logan, OH): No matter what kind of outdoors you're into, you'll find it here. This state park's got recess caves, canyons, lakes, cliffs and waterfalls. There's plenty to do, including canoeing, rock climbing and archery.


Natural Falls State Park (Colcord, OK): Located in northeastern Oklahoma, this 77-foot waterfall is set back in a rock formation, almost giving it a hidden feel. This peaceful place is the perfect place to set up camp or have a nice picnic.


Smith Rock State Park (Terrebonne, OR): These rock formations jut straight up in the air, so it makes sense that this park is seen as the "birthplace of rock climbing." This is a great spot for climbers of all difficulty levels, hikers or campers.


Cherry Springs State Park (Coudersport, PA): Widely regarded as one of the best places for stargazing, this state park has almost no light pollution, and there aren't any mountains around to block the view of the night sky. When the weather isn't acting up, the naked eye can see almost 10,000 stars and the colorful shadow of the Milky Way.

Rhode Island

Beavertail State Park (Jamestown, RI): In southern Rhode Island is the Beavertail Lighthouse, built in 1856. At this state park, visitors can tour the lighthouse, hike, picnic and saltwater fish.

South Carolina

Hunting Island State Park (Beaufort, SC): On this island, you'll find five miles of beaches, forests and a saltwater lagoon, along with a lighthouse. There's plenty of wildlife, including turtles, deer, and hundreds of species of birds.

South Dakota

Custer State Park (Custer, SD): This state park is the ultimate wildlife observation area. It's home to over 1,500 bison, elk, cougars and mountain goats. Along with the bison, the park is most famous for the Begging Burros - donkeys that are known for approaching you in search of food.


Fall Creek Falls State Park (Spencer, TN): This state park is home to seven different waterfalls, including Fall Creek Falls - the highest waterfall east of the Mississippi River. Along with that, there are five scenic overlooks and three caves to explore!


Palo Duro Canyon State Park (Canyon, TX): Dubbed the "Grand Canyon of Texas," this state park is, in fact, home to the second-largest canyon in the United States. There are quite a few hiking trails throughout, giving spectacular views of the canyon and the rock formations surrounding it.


Goblin Valley State Park (Green River, UT): Goblin Valley is filled with hoodoo rocks, famous for looking like mushrooms or goblins. There are three hiking trails to take you through the rock formations and plenty of different campsites, if you want to stay overnight.


Ricker Pond State Park (Groton, VT): This "pond" is actually a lake, surrounded by the Groton State Forest. There are plenty of water activities, including boating, swimming, water skiing and paddling. Plus, outside of the water, there's mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.


Grayson Highlands State Park (Mouth of Wilson, VA): This park is known for its high peaks and the wild ponies that roam the grounds. There are 16 separate hiking trails throughout the park, and there are four horseback riding areas.


Lime Kiln Point State Park (Friday Harbor, WA): Right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean, this state park is the perfect place for whale watching. Not even 20 feet out, you can see orca jumping through the air above the water. There are also great spots for picnicking and hiking.

West Virginia

Blackwater Falls State Park (Davis, WV): This 62-foot waterfall is surrounded by a red spruce and eastern hemlock forest. The waterfall gets its name from the color of the water, which is tinted by the needles that fall from the trees. Lots of outdoor activities will keep you busy at this state park!


Devil's Lake State Park (Baraboo, WI): Located in the Baraboo Hills, this park is known for its 500-foot bluffs that overlook Devil's Lake - which was formed by a glacier. At this state park, you can hike through one of the 16 trails, rock climb any one of the interesting rock formations, or do any other sort of water activity in the lake.


Hot Springs State Park (Thermopolis, WY): You could probably tell from the name, but this state park is known for its hot springs, which are always around 135 degrees. Along with that, there is a petroglyph site and a herd of bison that live in the area.

50 state parks, which means you've got a lot of traveling to do! We know there are a lot of other awesome parks out there, so let us know what your favorites are!

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published