The most beautiful state park in every US state



Slide 1 of 51: While visitors flock to America's national parks, many of the country's state parks are overlooked by travelers. But plenty have natural beauty that matches that of their national counterparts. From mountain preserves to coastal oases, we reveal the 50 most beautiful state parks in the USA.
Slide 2 of 51: Protecting a swathe of Alabama's Gulf Coast, this is the park for sun, sea and oodles of sand. You'll find more than three miles of champagne-colored beaches here, plus paved trails for hiking and biking. If you're looking to overnight in the park, choose between pretty beachside cottages, rustic woodland cabins or a modern campground. There's a dog park, too, so you've no need to leave your four-legged family member at home.
Slide 3 of 51: Chugach State Park, located close to the city of Anchorage, rivals big-hitters like Denali National Park when it comes to natural beauty. It's a huge site, sprawling across some 495,000 acres, and within its limits you'll find vast glaciers, ice fields, lakes and mountains. Keep your eyes peeled for species such as moose, brown and black bears, and wolves: the viewing platform in the Glen Alps area is a good spot for sightings.
Slide 4 of 51: The rust-red rocks of this state park rise up a stone's throw from the city of Sedona. Beyond the bluffs, trails lace through the 286-acre preserve, along the wildlife-rich waters of Oak Creek and past native plants and wildflowers. There's lots going on here too: join a naturalist-led walk to learn more about the site's unique geology, or plump for a Full Moon Hike for a taste of the park after dark.
Slide 5 of 51: Mount Magazine State Park is home to the highest point in Arkansas – the namesake Mount Magazine, which soars to 2,753 feet. From such lofty heights, the views are breathtaking, looking out across dense thickets and weathered rock. Unsurprisingly, hang gliding is a popular activity here or, if you'd prefer to keep your feet on the ground, more than 14 miles' worth of trails criss-cross the park. The Lodge at Mount Magazine will add a little touch of luxury to your state-park adventure.
Slide 6 of 51: The Golden State has beautiful parks aplenty, from stark stretches of desert to windswept coastal boltholes – but there's something special about Emerald Bay. The eye-popping blue waters are interrupted only by Fannette Island, a little islet that houses the ruins of a historic tea house. For the best views, rent a kayak or paddle board and drink in Fannette Island and the bay's forest-fringed shores.
Slide 7 of 51: An adventurer's paradise year-round, this state park is named for the Eleven Mile Reservoir, a calm body of water popular with boaters and fishermen. Elk, bears and diverse birdlife all make their home in the park, whose dark skies also draw in budding astronomers. In winter, the mountains lining the reservoir wear a crown of snow and the water becomes a scenic ice rink. There are more than 300 campsites here too, so you'll have no trouble pitching up under the stars.
Slide 8 of 51: Chapman Falls, a cascade that plunges more than 60 feet, is the principal draw of this New England park. Its name is thought to stem from the potholes around the falls: while they were formed by the movement of water, early settlers thought they could be the work of the devil. Take to the trails and spot quaint covered bridges, strange rock formations and, of course, the dramatic falls themselves. The park is considered one of the state's top spots for birding too.
Slide 9 of 51: If it's a coastal adventure you're after, this Delaware park is sure to deliver. The pristine beaches are backed by dunes and lapped by the Atlantic Ocean, and they draw sunbathers and water-sports enthusiasts from all over the state and beyond. History buffs should make for Fort Miles, a coastal defence built in the 1940s, while wildlife lovers should keep a look out for horseshoe crabs and shorebirds. The Walking Dunes Trail is a favorite route through the park.
Slide 10 of 51: This idyllic state park is the Florida Keys at its very best. With crescents of palm-tree-peppered sand and ample opportunity for snorkeling, kayaking, swimming and more, this site is every bit the beach-lover's paradise. The historic Bahia Honda State Bridge, jutting into an ocean of blue, loves the camera too.
Slide 11 of 51: Tallulah Gorge State Park is one of the USA's finest fall destinations beyond New England. Come the golden season, the 1,000-foot gorge is ablaze with ocher, russet and crimson, attracting leaf-peepers from all over the state. The park has plenty to offer the rest of the year too, with its suspension bridge granting views of the rushing river from a height of 80 feet. One hundred permits to hike the gorge floor are released each day.
Slide 12 of 51: An otherworldly stretch of Hawaiian shoreline, Nā Pali Coast State Park is best appreciated by boat or helicopter. From out on the water or from up high, you'll get incredible views of the ridged, color-striped cliffs beaten by the waves. Adventurous hikers may prefer to explore the park up close, though. You'll need a permit to trek the challenging Kalalau Trail, whose 11 miles take around a day to traverse.
Slide 13 of 51: A beautiful lake and a rich history make Farragut State Park a must visit. It spans around 4,000 acres and its scenery is almost alpine, with the Coeur d'Alene Mountains and Lake Pend Oreille its greatest assets. This site was also a Second World War naval training center, and you can learn more about the park's past at the Museum At The Brig. Once you've had a dose of history, take to the lake on a kayak or settle down for a picnic at the water's edge.
Slide 14 of 51: Take a two-hour drive southwest of Chicago, and you'll come to Starved Rock State Park, an area of incredible natural beauty world's away from the Windy City's skyscrapers. Eighteen dramatic canyons fill this park, with waterfalls rushing over the rocks and thoughtfully placed viewing platforms boasting awesome panoramas. You can take a trolley tour or a guided hike, or go it alone and soak up the park at your own pace.
Slide 15 of 51: Chain O'Lakes State Park is exactly what it sounds like: this preserve in northeastern Indiana is home to nine interconnecting lakes (plus four additional bodies of water). It's a haven for kayakers and boaters, and the large volume of waterways means you'll have plenty of peace and quiet. If you'd prefer not to hit the water, more than 10 miles of trails wind their way through the park's woodland too.
Slide 16 of 51: Iowa's oldest and best-known state park, leafy Backbone is pretty easy on the eye. It's dominated by Backbone Lake and the Maquoketa River, while its vast forested areas, at their best in fall, make for a relaxing hike. The park is also home to one of the highest points in this part of the state: the "Devil's Backbone", accessible via a rocky set of stairs.
Slide 17 of 51: You'll find canyons, natural springs and a bounty of birdlife tucked away in this state park in western Kansas. It's also an area rich in Native history, with archeological sites including the remains of a Native American pueblo, which is protected as a National Historic Landmark. Beyond the history, the park is a great spot for birding and horseback riding, with lots of trails and even a horse camp area.
Slide 18 of 51: Nicknamed "Kentucky’s Land of the Arches", this park in the state's northeast is known for its stunning rock formations. Its centerpiece is the aptly named "Natural Bridge", a striking sandstone arch rising some 65 feet out of the lush woodland. A top way to view the park is with a ride on the sky lift: you'll be whisked right to the top of Natural Bridge with sweeping forest views unfolding as you go.
Slide 19 of 51: Named for Lake Chicot, Louisiana's largest state park is also its most breathtaking, with green waters dotted with cypress trees and boardwalk trails slicing through the landscape. Top activities here include exploring the Louisiana State Arboretum, which is home to native plants and beech-magnolia trees, and taking to the waters on a kayak or boat. You'll find this 6,400-acre park in south-central Louisiana.
Slide 20 of 51: Considered one of the finest spots for wildlife viewing in New England, this park is located towards the north of Maine, in Piscataquis County, and its leafy expanse is home to species including black bears and bull moose. During fall, the park truly comes to life: breeding season means it's a great time to spot moose, and all wildlife exists against a backdrop of fiery orange and yellow. Be sure to spend a little time by Sandy Stream Pond for some of the park's best views.
Slide 21 of 51: Protecting a portion of Assateague Island, this oceanfront state park is home to the feral horses that has made the isle famous. The powdery white beaches and marshes are beautiful in their own right – but the presence of these elegant creatures makes the park all the more breathtaking. Take a hike through the marsh areas, keeping your eyes peeled for the resident wildlife, or make a splash in the ocean with a surfing session or a swim.
Slide 22 of 51: A tranquil spot on Massachusetts' Cape Cod, Nickerson State Park protects 1,900 photogenic acres. The expanse is dominated by oak and pine forests, dotted with quiet campsites, and covered with a sizeable network of trails that reveals the park's prettiest pockets. In winter, you can also pull on some cross-country skis and discover a snowy wonderland.
Slide 23 of 51: This park on the shores of Lake Superior encompasses some 60,000 acres of Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Waterfalls and woodland characterize the wilderness, which protects species such as wolves, bears and the peregrine falcon. Arguably the most beautiful spot in the whole park is the Lake of the Clouds: this blue body of water is framed by thick forest and can be viewed along the Big Carp River Trail.
Slide 24 of 51: Established in 1891, Itasca is Minnesota's oldest state park and the 32,000-acre expanse has natural beauty in spades. The park is home to the headwaters of the great Mississippi River (known as the "Father of Waters") and scrambling across the rocks at the river's beginning is a popular pastime here. Beyond this, there are more than 100 lakes, plus peaceful red and white pine forests. Explore by canoe or bike in summer, or rent a snowmobile or some snowshoes come winter.
Slide 25 of 51: Not to be confused with Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, Roosevelt is a wildlife-filled park in central Mississippi around a half-hour drive from Jackson. The preserve is centered around Shadow Lake, where visitors can try out activities such as water-skiing. Set out on one of the park's nature trails, keeping an eye out for coy deer and birdlife, and be sure to visit the park's lookout spot, which grants extensive views over the Bienville National Forest.
Slide 26 of 51: This park gets its name from the mammoth granite boulders that exist within its limits: thought to have been formed billions of years ago, the massive hunks of rock dwarf human visitors and look their most dramatic when framed against a setting sun. A trail threads its way through the rocky landmarks and visitors can also spot carvings left behind by miners who once had an operation in the area. To reach the park, you'll need to drive around 1.5 hours southwest of St Louis.
Slide 27 of 51: 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.
Slide 28 of 51: 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. 
Slide 29 of 51: 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.   Check out more of America's most epic places to relax with your RV here
Slide 30 of 51: This wooded paradise is located in the depths of the White Mountain National Forest. It's named for Franconia Notch, a mountain pass that exists high in the Kinsman and Franconia mountain ranges. For the best views of the verdant park, soar over the forest canopy on the aerial tramway, which travels to the 4,080-foot peak of Cannon Mountain. You can also walk through the stunning Flume Gorge, a natural ravine whose walls reach up to 90 feet.
Slide 31 of 51: Spectacular views are the major drawcard of this state park in the north of New Jersey. High Point State Park is home to the namesake High Point Monument, an imposing structure standing 1,803 feet above sea level – from its summit, you'll see views across the leafy park itself, as well as over bucolic areas of New Jersey, Delaware and Pennsylvania. The park also boasts serene hiking trails with lookout spots and a favored swimming spot at spring-fed Lake Marcia.
Slide 32 of 51: As its name suggests, this park in the southwest of New Mexico is best known for its head-turning rock formations. It's a relatively small park at only one square mile, but it still packs a punch when it comes to natural beauty. The park's striking rocky pinnacles are thought to have been formed by volcanic activity around 34.9 million years ago. A desert botanical garden protecting cacti and yucca adds extra charm too.
Slide 33 of 51: This beautiful New York state park is often tipped 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. 
Slide 34 of 51: It's not hard to see how Hanging Rock State Park got its name. The park, in the state's northern reaches, is home to plenty of rocky outcrops: these include the namesake Hanging Rock, a precarious-looking precipice reached via the 1.3 mile Hanging Rock Trail. Unsurprisingly, the park's landscape makes it popular with rock climbers. Beyond the dramatic rock formations and epic views, there are also a handful of pretty waterfalls and a 12-acre lake that attracts swimmers.
Slide 35 of 51: In northern North Dakota, right on the border with Canada, lies Lake Metigoshe State Park, a little-known natural preserve in the Turtle Mountains. The park is situated on Lake Metigoshe and its picture-perfect location makes it a year-round destination. In summer, adventurous visitors take to the water on jet-skis, canoes or paddle boats, while in winter the park is the domain of cross-country skiers weaving between snow-dusted trees.
Slide 36 of 51: Waterfalls and wildflowers keep visitors flocking to Hocking Hills State Park in southeastern Ohio. The park is a hiker's paradise with surprises including Whispering Cave, a vast cavern with a 105-foot-high waterfall, and the 40-foot drop of Cedar Falls. Beyond lapping up the natural beauty, visitors to this park can get involved in archery and disc golf, and there's also an annual organized hike in winter.
Slide 37 of 51: Everything revolves around the water at Lake Thunderbird State Park, which is located less than 30 miles southeast of Oklahoma City. The park takes its name from Lake Thunderbird, with its pair of marinas and its popular swimming beaches. Hiking, biking and horse-riding trails meander along the wooded water's edge, and families can learn more about the park's wildlife and history at the Discovery Cove Nature Center.
Slide 38 of 51: Appearing almost like an oil painting, this is the view from one of Ecola State Park's many scenic overlooks, taking in Cannon Beach and Haystack Rock. The park takes up nine miles of the Oregon coast and there are plenty more stunning vistas like this one. Aside from the beaches themselves, there's also the Sitka spruce forest and the brooding Tillamook Rock Lighthouse, perched on a weather-beaten islet out at sea. Hiking, wildlife-watching and surfing are all top activities here.
Slide 39 of 51: This state park in northeastern Pennsylvania is home to one of the most scenic hiking trails in the state. The Falls Trail bypasses a whopping 21 waterfalls – the highest of all is Ganoga Falls, which crashes down for 94 feet. Trails also loop through centuries-old forestland and wildlife-rich wetlands, with plenty of picnic stops and even the chance to sunbathe on a lakeside beach in the summer months.
Slide 40 of 51: Encompassing a beautiful area of New England's coastline, Beavertail State Park is best known for its landmark lighthouse and its high-quality naturalist program. Visitors to this windswept park can take a walk with experts to discover facts about the area's geology and tidal wildlife, or take to one of the coastal trails independently. You'll find the park at the southern tip of Jamestown.
Slide 41 of 51: The unspoiled beauty of this barrier island state park means it's the most popular in the state of South Carolina. Visitors are drawn in by the miles of forest-backed beaches and the Hunting Island Lighthouse, the only one in the state that's open to the public. From the lighthouse's 130-foot summit, visitors can look across the park's green canopy and out to the Atlantic Ocean. Back on the ground, boating, birding and exploring the nature trails are all popular activities.
Slide 42 of 51: A 1,000-plus-strong herd of buffalo roam this rugged state park in South Dakota's Black Hills. The preserve stretches for some 71,000 acres encompassing sprawling plains, twisting rock formations, vast lakes and bounteous wildlife. To see the park in all its glory, follow one of the scenic driving routes: the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road is a must for animal lovers, while the 14-mile Needles Highway route is best for jaw-dropping mountain views.
Slide 43 of 51: One of the USA's most impressive waterfalls exists within the limits of this state park. The park, in the Cumberland Plateau close to the town of Spencer, is named after Fall Creek Falls, a 256-foot cascade and the highest in the eastern USA. The rest of the 26,000-acre park is made up of more roaring falls, gorges and forestland, plus amenities geared towards nature-loving tourists. Top stops include the Nature Centre, the adrenalin-spiking Canopy Challenge Course and the 145-room inn.
Slide 44 of 51: 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. 
Slide 45 of 51: Rivalling Utah's "Mighty 5" national parks, Snow Canyon State Park is situated in the southwest of the state and wows visitors with its burnt-orange sandstone bluffs. Hiking amidst the red rocks is the best way to discover the park, and top trails include the Johnson Canyon Trail, a seasonal route that culminates with an impressive natural arch. The park's sand dunes are also popular with big and little kids alike.
Slide 46 of 51: Ricker Pond, a 92-acre man-made lake popular with boaters and fishermen, is the focal point of this park in the Groton State Forest. The site is picturesque year-round, with the glassy lake reflecting lush greenery throughout the summer and a forest of gold in the fall. Camp under a canopy of trees a stone's throw from the water, and get active with paddle-boarding or horse riding throughout the day.
Slide 47 of 51: 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
Slide 48 of 51: Don't let the name of this Washington park on the Long Beach Peninsula put you off. The park was given its name in reference to navigator and fur trader John Meares' failure to discover the Columbia River during his 18th century voyage. Modern travelers are not likely to be disappointed, though. Cape Disappointment impresses visitors with its dramatic cliffs, lakes, age-old forests and beaches. The Cape Disappointment Lighthouse is a grand sight too.
Slide 49 of 51: Despite its name, Blackwater Falls, a five-story cascade within this park, is known for its peculiar orange hue, created by the needles of hemlock and red-spruce trees. The unique waterfall is the park's most popular feature, but Elakala Falls, with its photogenic swirling pool, is equally as beautiful. Hiking is the park's top activity, with the Pendleton Point Overlook rewarding walkers with stomach-flipping views over the Blackwater Canyon.
Slide 50 of 51: 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.   Check out the most terrifying destination in every state
Slide 51 of 51: 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.    Now discover the most beautiful weekend road trip in every state

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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