The one park you can’t miss in every state

PHOTO: Pura Ulun Danu Bratan, Hindu temple on Bratan Lake, Bali, Indonesia (photo via Zephyr18/iStock/Getty Images Plus)
The Last Frontier has it all in every sense of the word— natural beauty and adventure combined to make even the biggest fans of tropical island vacations want to stay forever. Alaska cruises are very popular. They are a great way to tour the coastline. There’s no better way to experience the state’s stunning shore. Whether you choose to set sail via a cruise-liner trip (which operate May through September) or a short, day-long ferry excursion, you’re sure to witness unbelievable views more scenic than you could ever imagine. Bonus: You will cool off when the weather is hot.
Slide 1 of 51: America’s national, state and even city parks are a reflection of the country’s astounding natural diversity. Park experiences range from hiking quiet hill trails to paddling among pristine ocean islands, to standing on the soaring peaks of mountains, to surfing sand dunes. To help you with your overwhelming number of choices, here is one park you must visit in every state.
Slide 2 of 51: Little River Canyon National Preserve offers coursing whitewater stretching over 10 miles that will appeal to experienced paddlers.Hikers also won’t feel neglected, with trails that wind by diverse landscape that includes swimming holes, waterfalls, ridges, valleys, rocky plains and sandy stretches.
Slide 3 of 51: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park shows that size does matter. The same area as Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks and Switzerland combined, it rises from the ocean all the way up to 18,008-foot-high Mount St. Elias. Peak after mountain peak, massive ice fields, glaciers, abundant wildlife and more reward trekkers who make the difficult journey to reach the park.
Slide 4 of 51: Yes, this is an obvious choice but the sheer number of people who have the Grand Canyon on their bucket lists forces its inclusion.More than 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep, the national park’s two-billion-year-old geological show boasts some of the oldest rocks on Earth.Standing on the awe-inspiring rim is great, but get into the canyon itself, exploring on foot or even mule back.
Slide 5 of 51: Located on Arkansas’s tallest mountain (2,753 feet), Mount Magazine State Park provides spectacular views of river valleys, canyons and lesser peaks.Rock climbers flock here for the vertical challenges. Hikers, bikers, horseback riders, wildlife lovers and thrill seekers (hang gliding) also get their natural kicks at Mount Magazine.
Slide 6 of 51: These enchanted five islands off the coast of Southern California are known as the “Galapagos of North America” for their native plant and wildlife.Visitors to the Channel Islands National Park come by boat and plane to enjoy the spectacular environment by foot and kayak, experiencing the natural beauty without restaurants, lodgings and the other distractions of civilization.
Slide 7 of 51: You can hike, sand sled and even surf (on snowboard) the tallest sand dunes in North America.Diversity is also part of the attraction of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, with landscapes that include grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra.Viewing the night skies and nocturnal wildlife is also popular.
Slide 8 of 51: Known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage, actor William Gillette designed this eccentric and fascinating house.Located on a 184-acre state park, Gillette Castle looks like a medieval fortress, but inside you find intricately carved locks, wood doors, built-in couches, a table trackway and much more.
Slide 9 of 51: Cape Henlopen State Park’s beaches attract thousands of swimmers and sunbathers. They also enjoy the sights of a grand lighthouse rising off the beach and the gentle dunes with singing birds flitting.Fish from the jetty or walk or cycle down the miles of trails bursting with wildflowers that make their way through sand and wetlands.
Slide 10 of 51: Founded in 1963, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first undersea park in the country, and has approximately 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps, extending to the Atlantic Ocean.It preserves a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States.
Slide 11 of 51: The waterfalls in Amicalola Falls State Park tumble 729 feet, almost five times the height of Niagara Falls.You can view the water show from a footpath or join the Canyon Climbers Club and ascend a steep staircase.Also take hikes to Springer Mountain on the southern tip of the Appalachian Trail or to the state’s only backcountry inn.
Slide 12 of 51: Sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon State Park, in Kauai, takes the breath away with its dramatic views of the deep gorge, with bands of red and green.Waterfalls, rainbows and hiking trails also fascinate visitors. Year-round heavy rainfall means plush greenery and a good chance you may get wet.
Slide 13 of 51: Not surprisingly, rock climbers of all abilities are attracted to the City of Rocks National Reserve, with its otherworldly jumble of granite rock formations rising into the sky.If you’re not experienced, the park has a guided learn-to-climb program. Campsites come with tent pads, fire grills and water supply. The historic village of Almo is also nearby.
Slide 14 of 51: Voted the No. 1 attraction in the state of Illinois, Starved Rock State Park features beautiful waterfalls, towering trees, boating and 13 miles of hiking trails.It’s also worth a visit in the winter for ice fishing and spectacular icicles. The Starved Rock Lodge has the largest two-sided fireplace in the state.
Slide 15 of 51: With its beautiful colors, Brown County State Park is a particular fall favorite.But it has all-season pleasures, with its 16,000 acres of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, full of rolling hills, picturesque vistas and fishing waters.You can bring your own horse or enjoy a guided trail ride. The nearby town of Nashville has dining, shopping and entertainment options.
Slide 16 of 51: While hiking is a given at Iowa parks, with Maquoketa Caves State Park you get to trek underground—sometimes on your feet and sometimes at a crawl through tunnels.A wooded trail system links the caves, with limestone formations and scenic overlooks. Bring a flashlight and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.
Slide 17 of 51: Set in the wooded forests of the Smoky Hills, Kanopolis is the first established state park in Kansas.Its 3,400-acre Kanopolis Lake is ideal for watersports, including fishing for great trout, bass and walleye. Picturesque beaches and a 25-mile trail system are also strong draws.
Slide 18 of 51: Mammoth Cave National Park boasts the world's longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored.You can look with awe at natural formations of stalactites and stalagmites—eroded by water and frozen in time—with evocative names like Giant's Coffin, Bridal Altar and Star Chamber.Cave tours range from a 30-minute beginners' trip to a 6.5-hour Wild Cave Tour for the adventurous.
Slide 19 of 51: Atchafalaya National Heritage Area offers America’s largest river swamp, as well as snaking bayous, rivers, ancient live oaks, soaring cypress trees, sugar cane and cotton.Wildlife on land and in water includes alligators, raccoons, bears, more than 270 species of birds, catfish, shrimp, oysters, crawfish and more.
Slide 20 of 51: The easternmost point in the continental United States, Quoddy Head State Park includes the frequently photographed, candy-striped lighthouse West Quoddy Head, dating back to 1858.More than 540 acres and five miles of trails can give visitors views of humpback, minke and finback whales offshore, along with rafts of eider, scoter and old squaw ducks.
Slide 21 of 51: Horses and ponies are a major attraction on Assateague Island National Seashore park. The 37-mile-long barrier island has had a population of feral horses since colonial times.Once a year, on Pony Penning Day, wild ponies are rounded up and swum across the channel from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island, where the foals are auctioned off to the public to raise money for herd management.
Slide 22 of 51: At Mount Greylock State Reservation, you can hike up a challenging 3,491 feet to the mountaintop and enjoy the highest point in Massachusetts, seeing as far as 90 miles away.On your visit, take pictures of the great vistas, have a picnic or plan a stay at the summit lodge. In winter, traverse the backcountry ski trails.
Slide 23 of 51: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the state’s most popular destinations, with a long Lake Michigan shoreline and two islands, South and North Manitou.Climb 200-foot-tall dunes for sweeping views. Beaches, forests, lakes, farmsteads and even a little village are part of the park charm, as are pumpkin-carving festivals and stargazing nights.
Slide 24 of 51: Voyageurs National Park has an interior only accessible by water, with 240 sites set aside for houseboats, tent camping or day use along the shores of island-filled lakes.Named after French-Canadian explorers, the park welcomes visitors coming by motorboat, canoe, kayak and sailboat for day trips or overnight camping. Enjoy swimming, fishing and hiking on over 27 miles of trails.
Slide 25 of 51: The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile scenic drive that more or less follows the "Old Natchez Trace," a historic travel corridor traversed by Indians, European settlers, slave traders, soldiers and future presidents.Today it offers hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping. Managed by the National Park Service, the road snakes through almost 450 miles of protected land, from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi.
Slide 26 of 51: Located in the Land of the Ozarks, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is, justifiably, one of Missouri’s most-visited attractions. Its highlight are the ruins of a stone castle built on bluffs at the turn of the 20th century by a Kansas City businessman.Fifteen miles of hiking trails, caves, sinkholes, a natural stone bridge and a lake for fishing are other highlights.
Slide 27 of 51: Glacier National Park is the “Crown of the Continent”—its headwaters feed streams flowing to the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Hudson's Bay. More than 700 miles of trails make for great camping, biking and hiking.Guided tours, fishing the different lakes and rivers, and walking the Going-to-the-Sun Road are also part of the park experience.
Slide 28 of 51: Rising 800 feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff National Monument was a landmark and resting place for First Nations peoples, fur traders and trappers, and pioneers making their way to Oregon and California.Its 3,003 acres of prairie and bluff habitat has four miles of hiking trails, including portions of the original Oregon Trail. Drive to the summit for breathtaking views.
Slide 29 of 51: If you can get past the name—and the fact that it is the hottest, driest and lowest national park—Death Valley has lots to offer. It’s a land of extremes.Arid desert landscapes are contrasted by snowcapped (in winter) mountains, fields of wildflowers that spring up during rare rains and lush oases that provide refuge for people and wildlife alike.
Slide 30 of 51: Located in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park features an awesome mountain pass traversed by a one-of-a-kind parkway that goes from the Flume Gorge at the south to Echo Lake at the north.See falcons on the Cannon Cliffs, fish for trout, hike the Recreation Trail and go for a ride on an aerial tramway.
Slide 31 of 51: This nine-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail boasts the highest point in New Jersey, with views out to New York State, the Delaware River and Pennsylvania.At High Point State Park, you can have a swim at the popular Lake Marcia beach or cast your line for fish in the quieter Steenykill Lake. Hikers, skiers and campers are also accommodated.
Slide 32 of 51: Less than an hour south of Santa Fe, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument has desert walks through its otherworldly rock formations.A hike through a narrow slot canyon opens up beneath the hoodoos that soar 100 feet into the sky. The trail switchbacks up to the top of the mesa, where you get a panoramic view of the Jemez mountains and the Rio Grande River Valley
Slide 33 of 51: On July 21, 1853, the New York State Legislature created America’s first major landscaped park, setting aside more than 750 acres of prime land on Manhattan Island for what would become known as "the Central Park."Attracting 25 million people a year, it is one of the country’s most-visited parks, with its 50 fountains, monuments, and sculptures; 36 bridges and arches; and 21 official playgrounds.
Slide 34 of 51: From the top of 6,684-foot-high Mount Mitchell, you get a sweeping view from the highest point east of the Mississippi, standing on the easily accessible observation deck.Mount Mitchell State Park plants and wildlife have more in common with Canada’s, because of the high altitude. Intrepid travelers can also enjoy fine brews and art at nearby Asheville.
Slide 35 of 51: Theodore Roosevelt National Park is named after the president who came to the Dakota Territory to hunt bison, in 1883. Roosevelt’s experience here helped to shape him and the nation’s conservation policy.The highlight of the park is its badlands, with erosion creating photo-worthy canyons, ravines, gullies, buttes, mesas and hoodoos.
Slide 36 of 51: Hocking Hills State Park is one of Ohio’s most popular destinations, with its waterfalls, caves, sandstone cliffs and abundant vegetation.Hiking areas include Old Man’s Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Conkle's Hollow, Cedar Falls and Rockhouse. The park is in high demand in the fall, with some area cabins booking a year in advance.
Slide 37 of 51: The 59,000 acres of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge play host to free-range American bison herds, prairie dogs, Texas Longhorn cattle, bobcats and coyotes.From the top of Mount Scott, you get sweeping views of beautiful lakes, dramatic rock formations and inviting hiking trails.
Slide 38 of 51: Created by a volcanic eruption approximately 7,700 years ago, Crater Lake is one of the deepest (1,955 feet) and clearest lakes in the world, bordered by sheer cliffs more than 2,000 feet high.Snow and ice cover the rim for most of the year. Most visitors come to the national park in summer to hike, fish, swim and camp.
Slide 39 of 51: Ricketts Glen State Park is known for its 24 named waterfalls along Kitchen Creek, ranging from three to 94 feet high.Most can be viewed along the Falls Trail, which follows Kitchen Creek through the park’s three main river valleys: Ricketts Glen, Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen. Fall colors of the old-growth woods make autumn a great time to visit.
Slide 40 of 51: Located in Jamestown, Beavertail State Park offers some of the most beautiful vistas along the New England coast.These can be enjoyed from the comfort of your car, from four different overlooks, or hiking along the rugged seaside terrain. Great saltwater fishing and a naturalist program are also great draws.
Slide 41 of 51: Congaree National Park features the largest intact expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern part of the country.Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers snake through the floodplain, nourishing the ecosystem and helping national and state champion trees to grow. Hike among the awesome trees that compose the tallest deciduous forest in the U.S.
Slide 42 of 51: Bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys, elk, burros and other wildlife abounds at Custer State Park.While General George Custer’s hero status has been downgraded in history books, his eponymous park continues to fare well, with its granite peaks, rolling plains, cold mountain waters, camping, hiking, biking, swimming and fishing.
Slide 43 of 51: You will find great trout fishing in the creeks and streams of Roan Mountain State Park.Located at the base of majestic Roan Mountain, the park also has 2,000 acres of hardwood forest, with 12 miles of trails along creeks and ridges, and 2.25 miles of mountain biking trails.Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed in wintertime.
Slide 44 of 51: America’s national, state and even city parks are a reflection of the country’s astounding natural diversity. Park experiences range from hiking quiet hill trails to paddling among pristine ocean islands, to standing on the soaring peaks of mountains, to surfing sand dunes. To help you with your overwhelming number of choices, here is one park you must visit in every state.
Slide 45 of 51: At Arches National Park, “magic hour” is when sunset turns the assorted sandstone towers, ribs, hoodoos, balanced rocks and arches fiery red. The 73,234-acre park has the largest proliferation of arches in the world—more than 2,000.The unforgettable, delicate-looking Landscape Arch measures 306 feet and has the second-longest span on the planet.
Slide 46 of 51: Perched atop 968-foot-high Mt. Philo, Mt. Philo State Park has great views of the Lake Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The park attracts hikers and picnickers, and includes a campground.Vermont’s first state park (opened 1924) is also a good place to see wildlife, including white-tailed deer, moose and birds, especially during fall migrations.
Slide 47 of 51: First Landing State Park is the place English colonists first arrived, in 1607. And its cypress swamps provided fresh water to merchant mariners, pirates and military ships during the War of 1812.Virginia’s most-visited state park has 20 miles of trails and 1.5 miles of Chesapeake Bay beach frontage. Its habitats include bald cypress swamps, lagoons and maritime forest.
Slide 48 of 51: Located on a peninsula in the state’s northwest corner, Olympic National Park is a massive, rain/snow-soaked wilderness, with diverse landscapes that range from tide pools to rainforests, to mountains.Its more than 250 glaciers make it the most glaciated U.S. territory outside Alaska. In hikes through old-growth forests, massive trees are hung with moss and lichen.
Slide 49 of 51: As the name suggests, Blackwater Falls State Park is home to one of Virginia’s “natural wonders,” the 57-foot-high Blackwater Falls.The tumbling water is known for its amber color, tinted by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. Besides watching the water, visitors can spend time hiking, fishing, camping and doing seasonal sports.
Slide 50 of 51: Devil’s Lake, the largest state park in Wisconsin, offers year-round beauty and recreation. In summer, go swimming at the beach or fishing.Hike or bike through the fall colors or during the coming of spring. Winter is great for skating, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The park also draws serious climbers who tackle its quartzite cliffs.
Slide 51 of 51: If you can only go to a single park, Yellowstone National Park is the one to visit. The world’s first national park has lost none of its glory, with the hidden power of a volcano revealed in bursting geysers, hot springs and mud pots.Its 2 million acres feature rugged wilderness, jaw-dropping beauty, soaring mountain peaks and wildlife galore.

The one park you can’t miss in every state

America’s national, state and even city parks are a reflection of the country’s astounding natural diversity. Park experiences range from hiking quiet hill trails to paddling among pristine ocean islands, to standing on the soaring peaks of mountains, to surfing sand dunes. To help you with your overwhelming number of choices, here is one park you must visit in every state.

Alabama: Little River Canyon National Preserve

Little River Canyon National Preserve offers coursing whitewater stretching over 10 miles that will appeal to experienced paddlers.

Hikers also won’t feel neglected, with trails that wind by diverse landscape that includes swimming holes, waterfalls, ridges, valleys, rocky plains and sandy stretches.

Alaska: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Wrangell-St. Elias National Park shows that size does matter. The same area as Yellowstone and Yosemite national parks and Switzerland combined, it rises from the ocean all the way up to 18,008-foot-high Mount St. Elias. Peak after mountain peak, massive ice fields, glaciers, abundant wildlife and more reward trekkers who make the difficult journey to reach the park.

Arizona: Grand Canyon

Yes, this is an obvious choice but the sheer number of people who have the Grand Canyon on their bucket lists forces its inclusion.

More than 270 miles long, up to 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep, the national park’s two-billion-year-old geological show boasts some of the oldest rocks on Earth.

Standing on the awe-inspiring rim is great, but get into the canyon itself, exploring on foot or even mule back.

Arkansas: Mount Magazine State Park

Located on Arkansas’s tallest mountain (2,753 feet), Mount Magazine State Park provides spectacular views of river valleys, canyons and lesser peaks.

Rock climbers flock here for the vertical challenges. Hikers, bikers, horseback riders, wildlife lovers and thrill seekers (hang gliding) also get their natural kicks at Mount Magazine.

California: Channel Islands National Park

These enchanted five islands off the coast of Southern California are known as the “Galapagos of North America” for their native plant and wildlife.

Visitors to the Channel Islands National Park come by boat and plane to enjoy the spectacular environment by foot and kayak, experiencing the natural beauty without restaurants, lodgings and the other distractions of civilization.

Colorado: Great Sand Dunes National Park

You can hike, sand sled and even surf (on snowboard) the tallest sand dunes in North America.

Diversity is also part of the attraction of the Great Sand Dunes National Park, with landscapes that include grasslands, wetlands, conifer and aspen forests, alpine lakes, and tundra.

Viewing the night skies and nocturnal wildlife is also popular.

Connecticut: Gillette Castle

Known for his portrayal of Sherlock Holmes on stage, actor William Gillette designed this eccentric and fascinating house.

Located on a 184-acre state park, Gillette Castle looks like a medieval fortress, but inside you find intricately carved locks, wood doors, built-in couches, a table trackway and much more.

Delaware: Cape Henlopen State Park

Cape Henlopen State Park’s beaches attract thousands of swimmers and sunbathers. They also enjoy the sights of a grand lighthouse rising off the beach and the gentle dunes with singing birds flitting.

Fish from the jetty or walk or cycle down the miles of trails bursting with wildflowers that make their way through sand and wetlands.

Florida: John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

Founded in 1963, John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park was the first undersea park in the country, and has approximately 178 nautical square miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps, extending to the Atlantic Ocean.

It preserves a portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States.

Georgia: Amicalola Falls State Park

The waterfalls in Amicalola Falls State Park tumble 729 feet, almost five times the height of Niagara Falls.

You can view the water show from a footpath or join the Canyon Climbers Club and ascend a steep staircase.

Also take hikes to Springer Mountain on the southern tip of the Appalachian Trail or to the state’s only backcountry inn.

Hawaii: Waimea Canyon State Park

Sometimes called the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon State Park, in Kauai, takes the breath away with its dramatic views of the deep gorge, with bands of red and green.

Waterfalls, rainbows and hiking trails also fascinate visitors. Year-round heavy rainfall means plush greenery and a good chance you may get wet.

Idaho: City of Rocks National Reserve

Not surprisingly, rock climbers of all abilities are attracted to the City of Rocks National Reserve, with its otherworldly jumble of granite rock formations rising into the sky.

If you’re not experienced, the park has a guided learn-to-climb program. Campsites come with tent pads, fire grills and water supply. The historic village of Almo is also nearby.

Illinois: Starved Rock State Park

Voted the No. 1 attraction in the state of Illinois, Starved Rock State Park features beautiful waterfalls, towering trees, boating and 13 miles of hiking trails.

It’s also worth a visit in the winter for ice fishing and spectacular icicles. The Starved Rock Lodge has the largest two-sided fireplace in the state.

Indiana: Brown County State Park

With its beautiful colors, Brown County State Park is a particular fall favorite.

But it has all-season pleasures, with its 16,000 acres of hiking, biking and horseback riding trails, full of rolling hills, picturesque vistas and fishing waters.

You can bring your own horse or enjoy a guided trail ride. The nearby town of Nashville has dining, shopping and entertainment options.

Iowa: Maquoketa Caves State Park

While hiking is a given at Iowa parks, with Maquoketa Caves State Park you get to trek underground—sometimes on your feet and sometimes at a crawl through tunnels.

A wooded trail system links the caves, with limestone formations and scenic overlooks. Bring a flashlight and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty.

Kansas: Kanopolis State Park

Set in the wooded forests of the Smoky Hills, Kanopolis is the first established state park in Kansas.

Its 3,400-acre Kanopolis Lake is ideal for watersports, including fishing for great trout, bass and walleye. Picturesque beaches and a 25-mile trail system are also strong draws.

Kentucky: Mammoth Cave National Park

Mammoth Cave National Park boasts the world’s longest known cave system, with more than 400 miles explored.

You can look with awe at natural formations of stalactites and stalagmites—eroded by water and frozen in time—with evocative names like Giant’s Coffin, Bridal Altar and Star Chamber.

Cave tours range from a 30-minute beginners’ trip to a 6.5-hour Wild Cave Tour for the adventurous.

Louisiana: Atchafalaya National Heritage Area

Atchafalaya National Heritage Area offers America’s largest river swamp, as well as snaking bayous, rivers, ancient live oaks, soaring cypress trees, sugar cane and cotton.

Wildlife on land and in water includes alligators, raccoons, bears, more than 270 species of birds, catfish, shrimp, oysters, crawfish and more.

Maine: Quoddy Head State Park

The easternmost point in the continental United States, Quoddy Head State Park includes the frequently photographed, candy-striped lighthouse West Quoddy Head, dating back to 1858.

More than 540 acres and five miles of trails can give visitors views of humpback, minke and finback whales offshore, along with rafts of eider, scoter and old squaw ducks.

Maryland: Assateague Island National Seashore

Horses and ponies are a major attraction on Assateague Island National Seashore park. The 37-mile-long barrier island has had a population of feral horses since colonial times.

Once a year, on Pony Penning Day, wild ponies are rounded up and swum across the channel from Assateague Island to Chincoteague Island, where the foals are auctioned off to the public to raise money for herd management.

Massachusetts: Mount Greylock State Reservation

At Mount Greylock State Reservation, you can hike up a challenging 3,491 feet to the mountaintop and enjoy the highest point in Massachusetts, seeing as far as 90 miles away.

On your visit, take pictures of the great vistas, have a picnic or plan a stay at the summit lodge. In winter, traverse the backcountry ski trails.

Michigan: Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is one of the state’s most popular destinations, with a long Lake Michigan shoreline and two islands, South and North Manitou.

Climb 200-foot-tall dunes for sweeping views. Beaches, forests, lakes, farmsteads and even a little village are part of the park charm, as are pumpkin-carving festivals and stargazing nights.

Minnesota: Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park has an interior only accessible by water, with 240 sites set aside for houseboats, tent camping or day use along the shores of island-filled lakes.

Named after French-Canadian explorers, the park welcomes visitors coming by motorboat, canoe, kayak and sailboat for day trips or overnight camping. Enjoy swimming, fishing and hiking on over 27 miles of trails.

Mississippi: Natchez Trace Parkway

The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile scenic drive that more or less follows the “Old Natchez Trace,” a historic travel corridor traversed by Indians, European settlers, slave traders, soldiers and future presidents.

Today it offers hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping. Managed by the National Park Service, the road snakes through almost 450 miles of protected land, from Nashville, Tennessee, to Natchez, Mississippi.

Missouri: Ha Ha Tonka State Park

Located in the Land of the Ozarks, Ha Ha Tonka State Park is, justifiably, one of Missouri’s most-visited attractions. Its highlight are the ruins of a stone castle built on bluffs at the turn of the 20th century by a Kansas City businessman.

Fifteen miles of hiking trails, caves, sinkholes, a natural stone bridge and a lake for fishing are other highlights.

Montana: Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is the “Crown of the Continent”—its headwaters feed streams flowing to the Pacific Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and Hudson’s Bay. More than 700 miles of trails make for great camping, biking and hiking.

Guided tours, fishing the different lakes and rivers, and walking the Going-to-the-Sun Road are also part of the park experience.

Nebraska: Scotts Bluff National Monument

Rising 800 feet above the North Platte River, Scotts Bluff National Monument was a landmark and resting place for First Nations peoples, fur traders and trappers, and pioneers making their way to Oregon and California.

Its 3,003 acres of prairie and bluff habitat has four miles of hiking trails, including portions of the original Oregon Trail. Drive to the summit for breathtaking views.

Nevada: Death Valley

If you can get past the name—and the fact that it is the hottest, driest and lowest national park—Death Valley has lots to offer. It’s a land of extremes.

Arid desert landscapes are contrasted by snowcapped (in winter) mountains, fields of wildflowers that spring up during rare rains and lush oases that provide refuge for people and wildlife alike.

New Hampshire: Franconia Notch State Park

Located in the heart of the White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park features an awesome mountain pass traversed by a one-of-a-kind parkway that goes from the Flume Gorge at the south to Echo Lake at the north.

See falcons on the Cannon Cliffs, fish for trout, hike the Recreation Trail and go for a ride on an aerial tramway.

New Jersey: High Point State Park

This nine-mile stretch of the Appalachian Trail boasts the highest point in New Jersey, with views out to New York State, the Delaware River and Pennsylvania.

At High Point State Park, you can have a swim at the popular Lake Marcia beach or cast your line for fish in the quieter Steenykill Lake. Hikers, skiers and campers are also accommodated.

New Mexico: Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument

Less than an hour south of Santa Fe, Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument has desert walks through its otherworldly rock formations.

A hike through a narrow slot canyon opens up beneath the hoodoos that soar 100 feet into the sky. The trail switchbacks up to the top of the mesa, where you get a panoramic view of the Jemez mountains and the Rio Grande River Valley

New York: Central Park

On July 21, 1853, the New York State Legislature created America’s first major landscaped park, setting aside more than 750 acres of prime land on Manhattan Island for what would become known as “the Central Park.”

Attracting 25 million people a year, it is one of the country’s most-visited parks, with its 50 fountains, monuments, and sculptures; 36 bridges and arches; and 21 official playgrounds.

North Carolina: Mount Mitchell State Park

From the top of 6,684-foot-high Mount Mitchell, you get a sweeping view from the highest point east of the Mississippi, standing on the easily accessible observation deck.

Mount Mitchell State Park plants and wildlife have more in common with Canada’s, because of the high altitude. Intrepid travelers can also enjoy fine brews and art at nearby Asheville.

North Dakota: Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is named after the president who came to the Dakota Territory to hunt bison, in 1883. Roosevelt’s experience here helped to shape him and the nation’s conservation policy.

The highlight of the park is its badlands, with erosion creating photo-worthy canyons, ravines, gullies, buttes, mesas and hoodoos.

Ohio: Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park is one of Ohio’s most popular destinations, with its waterfalls, caves, sandstone cliffs and abundant vegetation.

Hiking areas include Old Man’s Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Conkle’s Hollow, Cedar Falls and Rockhouse. The park is in high demand in the fall, with some area cabins booking a year in advance.

Oklahoma: Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge

The 59,000 acres of Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge play host to free-range American bison herds, prairie dogs, Texas Longhorn cattle, bobcats and coyotes.

From the top of Mount Scott, you get sweeping views of beautiful lakes, dramatic rock formations and inviting hiking trails.

Oregon: Crater Lake National Park

Created by a volcanic eruption approximately 7,700 years ago, Crater Lake is one of the deepest (1,955 feet) and clearest lakes in the world, bordered by sheer cliffs more than 2,000 feet high.

Snow and ice cover the rim for most of the year. Most visitors come to the national park in summer to hike, fish, swim and camp.

Pennsylvania: Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park is known for its 24 named waterfalls along Kitchen Creek, ranging from three to 94 feet high.

Most can be viewed along the Falls Trail, which follows Kitchen Creek through the park’s three main river valleys: Ricketts Glen, Glen Leigh and Ganoga Glen. Fall colors of the old-growth woods make autumn a great time to visit.

Rhode Island: Beavertail State Park

Located in Jamestown, Beavertail State Park offers some of the most beautiful vistas along the New England coast.

These can be enjoyed from the comfort of your car, from four different overlooks, or hiking along the rugged seaside terrain. Great saltwater fishing and a naturalist program are also great draws.

South Carolina: Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park features the largest intact expanse of old-growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeastern part of the country.

Waters from the Congaree and Wateree Rivers snake through the floodplain, nourishing the ecosystem and helping national and state champion trees to grow. Hike among the awesome trees that compose the tallest deciduous forest in the U.S.

South Dakota: Custer State Park

Bison, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, wild turkeys, elk, burros and other wildlife abounds at Custer State Park.

While General George Custer’s hero status has been downgraded in history books, his eponymous park continues to fare well, with its granite peaks, rolling plains, cold mountain waters, camping, hiking, biking, swimming and fishing.

Tennessee: Roan Mountain State Park

You will find great trout fishing in the creeks and streams of Roan Mountain State Park.

Located at the base of majestic Roan Mountain, the park also has 2,000 acres of hardwood forest, with 12 miles of trails along creeks and ridges, and 2.25 miles of mountain biking trails.

Cross-country skiing can be enjoyed in wintertime.

Texas: Big Bend National Park

Set on the border of Mexico, along the Rio Grande, Big Bend National Park covers more than 801,000 acres of west Texas. (Big Bend refers to the U-turn the Rio Grande River makes here.)

The desert landscape surrounded on three sides by mountains sustains a remarkable diversity of plant and wildlife.

Utah: Arches National Park

At Arches National Park, “magic hour” is when sunset turns the assorted sandstone towers, ribs, hoodoos, balanced rocks and arches fiery red. The 73,234-acre park has the largest proliferation of arches in the world—more than 2,000.

The unforgettable, delicate-looking Landscape Arch measures 306 feet and has the second-longest span on the planet.

Vermont: Mt. Philo State Park

Perched atop 968-foot-high Mt. Philo, Mt. Philo State Park has great views of the Lake Champlain Valley and New York’s Adirondack Mountains. The park attracts hikers and picnickers, and includes a campground.

Vermont’s first state park (opened 1924) is also a good place to see wildlife, including white-tailed deer, moose and birds, especially during fall migrations.

Virginia: First Landing State Park

First Landing State Park is the place English colonists first arrived, in 1607. And its cypress swamps provided fresh water to merchant mariners, pirates and military ships during the War of 1812.

Virginia’s most-visited state park has 20 miles of trails and 1.5 miles of Chesapeake Bay beach frontage. Its habitats include bald cypress swamps, lagoons and maritime forest.

Washington: Olympic National Park

Located on a peninsula in the state’s northwest corner, Olympic National Park is a massive, rain/snow-soaked wilderness, with diverse landscapes that range from tide pools to rainforests, to mountains.

Its more than 250 glaciers make it the most glaciated U.S. territory outside Alaska. In hikes through old-growth forests, massive trees are hung with moss and lichen.

West Virginia: Blackwater Falls State Park

As the name suggests, Blackwater Falls State Park is home to one of Virginia’s “natural wonders,” the 57-foot-high Blackwater Falls.

The tumbling water is known for its amber color, tinted by tannic acid from fallen hemlock and red spruce needles. Besides watching the water, visitors can spend time hiking, fishing, camping and doing seasonal sports.

Wisconsin: Devil’s Lake Park

Devil’s Lake, the largest state park in Wisconsin, offers year-round beauty and recreation. In summer, go swimming at the beach or fishing.

Hike or bike through the fall colors or during the coming of spring. Winter is great for skating, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The park also draws serious climbers who tackle its quartzite cliffs.

Wyoming: Yellowstone National Park

If you can only go to a single park, Yellowstone National Park is the one to visit. The world’s first national park has lost none of its glory, with the hidden power of a volcano revealed in bursting geysers, hot springs and mud pots.

Its 2 million acres feature rugged wilderness, jaw-dropping beauty, soaring mountain peaks and wildlife galore.

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