Discover the beauty of America’s backyard
Alabama: Gulf State Park, Baldwin County
Alaska: Chugach State Park, nr. Anchorage
Arizona: Red Rock State Park, nr. Sedona
Arkansas: Mount Magazine State Park, Logan County
California: Emerald Bay State Park, Lake Tahoe
Colorado: Eleven Mile State Park, Park County
Connecticut: Devil’s Hopyard State Park, East Haddam
Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park, Sussex County
Florida: Bahia Honda State Park, Florida Keys
Georgia: Tallulah Gorge State Park, Rabun and Habersham counties
Hawaii: Nā Pali Coast State Park, Kauai Island
Idaho: Farragut State Park, Kootenai County
Illinois: Starved Rock State Park, LaSalle County
Indiana: Chain O’Lakes State Park, Noble County
Iowa: Backbone State Park, Delaware County
Kansas: Lake Scott State Park, Scott County
Kentucky: Natural Bridge State Resort Park, Powell & Wolfe counties
Louisiana: Chicot State Park, nr. Ville Platte
Maine: Baxter State Park, Piscataquis County
Maryland: Assateague State Park, Worcester County
Massachusetts: Nickerson State Park, Brewster
Michigan: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon and Gogebic counties
Minnesota: Itasca State Park, nr. Park Rapids
Mississippi: Roosevelt State Park, nr. Morton
Missouri: Elephant Rocks State, Iron County
Montana: Medicine Rocks State Park, Carter County
Medicine Rocks State Park is characterized by bizarrely weathered sandstone bluffs. The rock formations, often likened to “Swiss cheese”, are peppered with holes, and a young Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed with the natural landmarks that he said this was “as fantastically beautiful a place” as he had ever seen. The site was also important for Native American tribes, who considered the rocks sacred and sought medicinal plants in their wake. Today the park is most popular with hikers and photographers.
Nebraska: Fort Robinson State Park, nr. Crawford
History and nature combine at this state park in northwestern Nebraska. Made up of 22,000 acres of grasslands, the preserve is rimmed by craggy peaks and inhabited by longhorn sheep and buffalo. It’s also home to Fort Robinson, a former US army base used during the Sioux Wars of the 19th century. The site is known for the place where famed Sioux warrior Crazy Horse was killed. Modern tourists can visit the interpretive history museum here, spend the afternoon hiking in the wilderness, and overnight in the campground or lodge.
Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park, nr. Overton
The whirling red rocks of this state park could almost be mistaken for Mars. A top way to take in the fiery landscape is with the Rainbow Vista hike, a route of less than one mile that soaks in some of the park’s most striking vistas. Don’t miss the Fire Wave, either: this incredible striped rock is reached by a 1.5-mile round-trip hike. Campgrounds and RV sites mean there’s no need to rush your adventure.
New Hampshire: Franconia Notch State Park, White Mountains
New Jersey: High Point State Park, Sussex County
New Mexico: City of Rocks State Park, Grant County
New York: Letchworth State Park, Livingston and Wyoming counties
This beautiful New York state park is often described as the “Grand Canyon of the East.” Letchworth’s tree-topped gorge is as high as 600 feet in certain spots, with the Genesee River rushing through it. The river itself is punctured by waterfalls, the most impressive of which is Middle Falls, with its 107-foot drop. Book a trip with hot-air-balloon operator Balloons Over Letchworth for the promise of epic views, or take to the park’s 66 miles of hiking trails.
North Carolina: Hanging Rock State Park, Stokes County
North Dakota: Lake Metigoshe State Park, nr. Bottineau
Ohio: Hocking Hills State Park, Hocking County
Oklahoma: Lake Thunderbird State Park, Cleveland County
Oregon: Ecola State Park, Clatsop County
Pennsylvania: Ricketts Glen State Park, nr. Benton
Rhode Island: Beavertail State Park, Jamestown
South Carolina: Hunting Island State Park, nr. Beaufort
South Dakota: Custer State Park, Black Hills
Tennessee: Fall Creek Falls State Park, Van Buren and Bledsoe counties
Texas: Palo Duro Canyon State Park, nr. Amarillo
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, located in the Texas Panhandle, is home to the second-largest canyon in the United States (trumped only by the famed Grand Canyon in Arizona). Its rugged red scarps are dotted with shrubs and, when it comes to sunsets, Palo Duro rivals its better-known western counterpart. You can horse ride, bike or hike the park’s 30 miles of trails, overnight in a rustic cabin, and even see live music at the park’s open-air amphitheater.
Utah: Snow Canyon State Park, Washington County
Vermont: Ricker Pond State Park, Groton
Virginia: Grayson Highlands State Park, Grayson County
The scenery of this mountainous park is often compared to that of the Alps. The park is situated close to the Virginia’s loftiest peaks: Mount Rogers and Whitetop Mountain. It’s a paradise filled with mountain-fringed meadows, woodland and waterways and, best of all, it’s home to wild ponies who graze on the park’s grasses. Grayson Highlands is also well-primed for outdoor adventurers with 13 hiking trails and opportunities for bouldering, biking and canoeing.
Go back to nature and discover the most amazing animal encounters in your state
Washington: Cape Disappointment State Park, nr. Ilwaco
West Virginia: Blackwater Falls State Park, Tucker County
Wisconsin: Devil’s Lake State Park, Sauk County
The brilliantly blue Devil’s Lake is the main attraction of this park in southern Wisconsin. If you’ve got a head for heights, you can look down on the lake from imposing quartzite crags that rise up to 500 feet – or, if you’re after a more laid-back adventure, sprawl out on one of the park’s sandy crescents instead. The 1,000-mile-plus Ice Age Trail, a route known for its fascinating natural history, also beats its way through the park.
Wyoming: Curt Gowdy State Park, Albany and Laramie counties
You’ll discover this pleasingly rugged state park around 24 miles west of the city of Cheyenne, in southeastern Wyoming. The site is particularly celebrated for its excellent biking trails, which range from relaxed routes perfect for beginners to heart-pumping paths with plenty of twists and climbs. For hikers, there’s the promise of hidden waterfalls and a trio of picturesque reservoirs along 35 miles’ worth of trails. If you’re hoping to stay a while, the park boasts 12 campsites too.
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