The U.S. has an impressive and well-maintained state park system to protect and preserve the nation’s many natural resources while offering public space for recreation. So, whether you are planning an entire vacation of outdoor activities or want somewhere to spend your weekends, state parks are an ideal choice. In addition to a relaxed atmosphere, state parks also offer fun and thrilling activities to include in your adventure list. It’s a great way to get outdoors, engage with nature, and appreciate the pristine beauty of our natural environment.
Here are some fabulous state park choices and what to expect from them. Be warned it will almost be a hard to resist, scavenger hunt once you begin!
Whether you like chasing waterfalls, climbing mountains, observing wildlife, or scuba diving, California has got you covered. Its state parks will offer a wide variety of choices for thrill-seekers, holiday-makers, outdoor enthusiasts and kids alike! Hike through centuries-old redwood forests, camp beside the magnificent Lake Tahoe, or take a walk on the sandy beaches with your special someone. You will be mesmerized by the contrasting landscapes of California’s state parks and will be left craving more. Oh, and there’s plenty of historical monuments to explore as well.
Emerald Bay, Julia Pfeiffer Burns, Big Basin Redwoods, and McArthur-Burney Falls are some state parks to get started!
Lake Tahoe - California/Nevada
New York may be the cosmopolitan epitome of the U.S.A., but it has an equally splendid wild side to give you a good dose of adventure. The state parks here brim with natural scenery, promising you some quiet and peace away from the chaotic city life. You can catch a glimpse of Niagara Falls, explore the Natural Bridge and Caves, and admire the Panama Rocks. Visitors can also take a dip in natural pools during summer, hike their way to the top of soaring cliffs, or just relax on a beach enjoying the weather.
You will be spoiled for choice here, but Devil’s Hole, Watkins Glen, Minnewaska, and Panama Rocks should be on your adventure list!
Minnewaska State Park - New York
Oregon’s state parks boast miles of sandy beaches, deep valleys, sprawling deserts, lush forests, and gorgeous waterfalls. You can treat yourself to a hot spring bath in the wilderness, test your bold spirit with some serious rock climbing, or go surfing on the Oregon coast. The parks’ wild areas are also a habitat to a large number of animal and bird species – so nature lovers, be prepared! Honeymooners would love their time spent here, be it chasing beautiful sunsets or kayaking down rivers.
If Oregon is on your adventure list, don’t forget to consider Silver Falls, Smith Rock, Oswald West, Cape Lookout and Brian Booth.
Cape Lookout State Park - Oregon
Marked by the Appalachian trail and home to the White Mountains, New Hampshire is a hikers paradise with trails for both rookies and well-seasoned pros. Besides panoramic mountains, you will be greeted by gushing waterfalls, massive lakes, swimming holes, and stunning flora. Its state parks also offer many other options for your adventure list like backpacking, fishing, archery, mountaineering, and rock climbing. With well-facilitated campgrounds, picnic areas, and playgrounds, they are a perfect vacation spot for families looking for some downtime.
Crawford Notch State Park, Cardigan Mountain, Sculptured Rocks Natural Area, Pillsbury State Park, Franconia Notch, and Echo Lake are some state parks worth your attention.
Franconia Notch State Park - New Hampshire
From active volcanoes to snow-capped mountains to beautiful islands, Washington is brimming with natural wonders. Every state park here would take you on a beautiful escapade with nature, offering plenty of activities like camping, hiking, biking, fishing, swimming, and diving to fill an adventure list. You can also go on a tour discovering petrified wood, catch orca whales in action at the San Juan Islands, observe exotic wildlife in dense woods, and explore natural history. You would have to go through Washington’s long list of state parks to figure out what best suits you.
Cape Disappointment, Palouse Falls, Lime Kiln Point, Mount Rainier, and Ginko Petrified Forest are our top picks!
Palouse Falls State Park - Washington
Michigan lures its visitors with its scenic coastal charm, having the longest freshwater coastline in the United States. If you have set your heart on exploring the Great Lakes and delving into aquatic adventures, there’s no better place than this Midwest state. From scuba diving to jet skiing to parasailing to flyboarding, there is so much to pump your adrenaline! While being a perennial setting for fishing, the state parks also offer hiking, cycling, and kayaking. Pristine beaches, towering cliffs, massive dunes, thick forests, inland lakes, and salt marshes dominate the ambiance of Michigan’s state parks, and you will be awe-inspired the whole time!
Michigan State Park - Michigan
If you are drawn towards areas of untamed wilderness, Alaska is just for you. Its state parks have some of the best-preserved natural areas in the U.S. in their pristine and untouched form. Snow-capped peaks, fjords, glaciers, deep lakes, and lush greenery make up this state’s dramatic ambiance. Undeniably, the state is a playground for winter sports fanatics! Alaska is your ultimate destination to spot grizzly bears, ski in challenging terrains, and enjoy ice fishing on frozen lakes. You can also go backpacking, camping, or hiking in trail-less back country areas, feeding your adventure list!
Denali, Chugach, Point Bridget, and Kachemak Bay are some of the must-visit state parks, in our opinion!
Chugach State Park - Alaska
From blazing volcanoes to calming seas, the vast natural wonders of Hawaii aptly make up for its diminutive size. Visitors would love the time spent here – hopping from one island to the next, exploring the many state parks of the Hawaiian archipelago. Feast your eyes on the colorful scenery of Waimea Canyon, explore volcanic craters on the Big Island, and dig your toes in black sand beaches before you dive into the deep blue sea. As a destination famous for scuba diving, surfing, camping, and hiking, Hawaii knows how to keep its visitors busy with a long adventure list.
Don’t miss visiting Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, Na Pali State Park and Diamond Head State Park when you are here!
Na Pali State Park, Kauai, Hawaii
Each of these states is renowned for their state parks and draw a countless number of visitors every year. They have activities to keep you busy throughout all seasons, although some seasons tend to attract more crowds than others. These vast and beautiful areas have many hidden gems waiting to be discovered on your next big adventure.
We know your curiosity is piqued! So, what are you waiting for? Pen down your adventure list and start planning now! Are YOU ready?