When mapping out a bucket listing of outside locations in the US, Nationwide Parks get a whole lot of love: Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park…the listing goes one. And whereas these are positively must-see locations, there’s one small catch — everybody else has them on their listing, too.

As an alternative, why not head to a state park on your subsequent getaway? These areas could be simply as distinctive and beautiful as their “nationwide” neighbors however are sometimes much less crowded. And, with eight,565 state park areas comprising 18,694,570 acres in the US, there’s likelihood that there’s one near residence. That can assist you create your personal state park bucket listing, listed below are 19 (plus one that may as effectively be a state park) that ought to sit on the prime of your listing.

The Northeast

There are many state parks to discover within the northeast — New York alone has 1,416 state park websites, greater than every other state. And whereas there are mountains to climb within the space’s state parks (Baxter State Park is residence to Mount Katahdin, Maine’s highest peak and one finish of the Appalachian Path), lots of the northeast’s state parks embrace loads of water.

For instance, Burton Island State Park in Vermont is accessible solely by boat—no vehicles are allowed. Take the ferry from Kill Kare State Park (bonus factors for hitting two in sooner or later) and after a 10-minute journey you’ll arrive at this unspoiled spot in Lake Champlain. You may wander trails or the three miles of seaside; there are additionally a number of inlets and coves to discover (boats can be found for lease) and fish simply ready to be caught.

Kamp Kill Kare State Park. PHOTO CREDIT: Sara Hayes VT State Parks

In New Hampshire, Odiorne Level State Park is located on the coast which suggests loads of alternatives to paddle, hike and bike along with sweeping ocean views. A go to to the Seacoast Science Middle, positioned throughout the park, provides perspective on each the pure and human historical past of Odiorne and surrounding space; it additionally provides some free programming through the summer season months.

The Appalachians

There are tons of nice state parks dotted all through the Appalachian Mountains and you may hit a whole lot of them if in case you have the time and/or inclination to hike the aptly named Appalachian Path. However in case you’d desire to hit just a few of the highlights, head to Tennessee and West Virginia.

It’s within the identify, however the 26,000-acre Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee is understood for its waterfalls, together with the titular Fall Creek Falls: at 256 toes, it’s one of many highest vertical-drop waterfalls east of the Mississippi.

PHOTO CREDIT: Falls Creek Falls Park

Need extra waterfalls? Burgess Creek State Park (additionally in Tennessee) has 4 that fall greater than 250 toes, making it one other worthwhile vacation spot within the Volunteer State.

John Denver immortalized West Virginia’s nation roads and, on the state’s japanese panhandle, Misplaced River State Park is a quiet respite filled with trails to discover by horseback, on foot or by bicycle. There are three,712 acres of woods to discover, plus scorching springs to go to; don’t miss the Cranny Crow overlook on prime of Huge Ridge Mountain: you’ll be rewarded with views of 5 counties.


There are solely 12 state parks in Wyoming, however they comprise greater than 100,000 acres of the state’s wide-open panorama. Although the state can be residence to Yellowstone, you don’t must hit this nationwide park to get pleasure from pure thermal options. As an alternative, try Scorching Springs State Park in Thermopolis. Right here, greater than eight,000 gallons circulation over the colourful terrace each 24 hours at a continuing temperature of 135 levels. You may pattern the waters on the free bathtub home — the water is maintained at 104 levels, which is a little more tolerable.


Utah’s recognized for the Huge 5, however their 45 state parks are simply as beautiful — and far much less crowded. After you’ve exhausted Arches and Canyonlands, head to Goblin Valley State Park and wander among the many 170 million-year-old hoodoos, created by wind, water and time. Keep the evening and benefit from the park’s Darkish Sky-accreditation, which suggests you’ll be capable of see an infinite variety of stars with no gentle air pollution. For excellent views of Canyonlands with out the crowds, Lifeless Horse Level State Park provides you views for miles of each the park and the Colorado River.

Exterior of Capitol Reef Nationwide Park, Escalante Petrified Forest State Park has a mess of hikes that’ll take you previous petrified forests (therefore the identify) and petroglyphs, previous waterfalls, by means of slot canyons and right down to rivers.

PHOTO CREDIT: Writer at Escalante Petrified Forest State Park


There are many state parks to go to in Huge Sky Nation—54 to be actual—with most of them positioned within the western and central a part of the state. Right here you’ll discover caves and dramatic overlooks, lakes and waterfalls. However at Makoshika State Park, you possibly can play Jurassic Park for actual. Many dinosaur fossils have been discovered all through the park’s 11,000 acres (it’s Montana’s largest state park), in order that’ value a go to. However add within the many nature trails and attention-grabbing rock formations and you’ve got a vacation spot.


There’s no scarcity of lovely spots in Colorado, together with a number of nationwide parks. In consequence, our 41 state parks appear to shine simply bit brighter as compared. As one good friend stated, “Eldorado Canyon and Roxborough could be Nationwide Parks if (they had been positioned) anyplace however in Colorado.”

That being stated, you possibly can’t go incorrect visiting one among Colorado’s state parks. Close to Denver, Eldorado Canyon State Park is a scorching spot for climbers alongside the canyon partitions and in addition has nice mountain climbing trails. Golden Gate Canyon State Park is one other close-to-Denver gem with quiet trails for mountain climbing, horseback using and mountain biking by means of greater than 12,000 acres. And simply southwest of Denver, Roxborough State Park is each a Colorado Pure Space and a Nationwide Pure Landmark. Take your digital camera: Picturesque red-rock formations fill the near 4000- acre park and there are many alternatives for wildlife pictures, too.

PHOTO CREDIT: Roxborough State Park


California has the second most state park acreage in the US (after Alaska) with 1.6 million acres. That’s a whole lot of territory to discover and 87 state parks to mark off your listing. There are forests, mountains and deserts and 63 state seashores (which, for the aim of this text, are remaining a separate entity).

For the perfect place to see redwoods by automobile, head to Humboldt Redwoods State Park. This
park spans 53,000 acres, an space virtually twice the dimensions of San Francisco. About one third, or 17,000 acres, of the park is old-growth redwood forest—the biggest expanse of historical redwoods left on the planet. After cruising the 32-mile-long Avenue of Giants, it’s also possible to hike, bike and horseback journey on greater than 100 miles of path or fish within the South Fork Eel River.

If going primeval is extra your type, Ahjumawi State Park, positioned in northeastern Shasta County, is your good vacation spot: suppose good aqua bays, tree studded islets and pretty current lava flows (they’re solely three to 5 thousand years outdated). You’ll see freshwater springs (the springs on the park are one of many largest contemporary water spring programs within the nation) flowing from the lava alongside shoreline and the wildlife is considerable.

PHOTO CREDIT: Go to California (Ahjumawi Lava Springs State Park)

Pacific Northwest

Sure, the PNW does embrace Idaho, western Montana, northern California and elements of southwest Canada, however for the aim of this listing we’re retaining the PNW to Oregon and Washington. There are numerous beautiful state parks in Oregon (and there’s just one nationwide park for competitors), however head to Cottonwood Canyon State Park to expertise the Oregon’s latest and largest state park. There are 16,000 acres to tromp and 16 miles of the John Day River to discover and whereas elements are nonetheless in progress, there’s loads of park to peruse.

In Washington, Cape Disappointment State Park will get marks for many deceptive identify. This park marks the top of the journey made by Lewis and Clark and is something however a disappointment. There are eight miles of mountain climbing trails to secluded coves, an opportunity to Pacific gray whales from December to March and never one however two lighthouses: the North Head and Cape Disappointment lighthouses. Inbuilt 1856, the latter is the oldest functioning lighthouse on the west coast.

Bonus Park

Technically, The Adirondack Park isn’t a state park so it didn’t really feel precisely proper together with it under. HOWEVER — The Adirondack Park is the biggest publicly protected space within the contiguous United States. Greater than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier and Grand Canyon Nationwide Park mixed, The Park is comprised of roughly 6 million acres with greater than three,000 lakes and 30,000 miles of river and streams. Almost half of this belongs to the entire folks of New York State and is constitutionally protected to stay “perpetually wild” forest protect, which was motive sufficient to incorporate it as a bonus. You’re welcome.

Many of those locations had been suggestions from mates within the know on Fb. What are your favourite state parks? Tell us within the feedback under.