Lizzie Dragon
by Lizzie Dragon
Posted March 2, 2021

The groundhog saw his shadow this year, which means you have a little extra time to plan a spring road trip to a state park. And we’re here to help you do just that!

Because beauty is so subjective, we gathered a laundry list of state parks that may just catch your eye. So, without further ado, here are 50 of the prettiest state parks in the United States — find one in your state!

Alabama — DeSoto State Park

Image Source: stateparks.com

Located in Northeast Alabama, DeSoto State Park sits atop Lookout Mountain. With over 3,500 acres of natural beauty, you’ll come across waterfalls and wildflowers galore whether you hike, bike, or kayak.

Alaska — Chugach State Park

Image Source: alaskatravel.com

One of the four largest state parks in the United States, Chugach State Park has SO much to explore, from the ocean to the foothills. Though it is the most visited state park in Alaska, this gorgeous place maintains a peaceful quiet

Arizona — Patagonia Lake State Park

Image Source: tucson.com

Spot great blue herons and whitetail deer around Patagonia Lake. Anglers, bird watchers, paddlers, and adventures of any kind will find something up their alley at this state park.

Arkansas — Pinnacle Mountain State Park 

Image Source: arkansasstateparks.com

Pinnacle Mountain is the heart, soul, and center of this pretty Arkansas park. Hike to the top or travel around by foot or boat. It has been said to be especially beautiful in the spring and fall!

California — Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Image Source: californiabeaches.com

Home to one of the most photographed waterfalls in California, McWay Falls, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is an especially scenic site. Within Big Sur, this state park is one of the most accessible. Explore the coastline coves and get your very own picture of the famous falls.

Colorado — Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Image Source: colorado.com

Golden Gate Canyon State Park has views for days — well, miles. At Panorama Point Scenic Overlook, you can look out at 100 miles of beauty. Take it all in by foot or horseback!

Connecticut — Bigelow Hollow State Park

Image Source: onlyinyourstate.com

Together, Bigelow Hollow State Park and Nipmuck State Forest make up 9000 acres of scenery and adventure. Hike around the 18-acre Bigelow Pond or the 300-acre Mashapaug Pond, and experience the wonder of this unbroken Connecticut forest.

Delaware — Killens Pond State Park

Image Source: destateparks.com

The 66-acre pond is the centerpiece of Killens Pond State Park. Catch a catfish, paddle up Murderkill River, or hike through the vast greenery. And while you’re there, be sure to check out the Killens Pond waterpark for some family fun!

Florida — Myakka River State Park

Image Source: visitflorida.com

Myakka River, the first state-designated wild and scenic river in Florida, flows through the parklands. Watch for roseate spoonbills, alligators, and turtles as you paddle along or take your bike through the trails and backroads.

Georgia — Stephen C. Foster State Park

Image Source: darksky.org

Stephen C. Foster State Park is your gateway to one of Georgia’s seven national wonders — Okefenokee Swamp. Here you can admire the 12,000 alligators who call this swamp home (from the safety and comfort of a boat, kayak, or canoe). This Georgia park is also International Dark Sky Park, making it a beauty to behold both day and night.

Hawaii — Waimea Canyon State Park

Image Source: hawaiistateparks.org

“The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon is 14 miles long, 1 mile wide, and over 3600 feet deep. The canyon formed with erosion and the collapse of the volcano that also formed the island of Kauai. Hike into the deep gorge and experience the expansive and colorful landscape.

Idaho — Bruneau Dunes State Park

Image Source: motorhome.com

In Bruneau Dunes State Park lies the tallest free-standing sand dune in North America. Hike, sandboard, or horseback ride along the dunes. And at night, study the stars at the Bruneau Dunes Observatory.

Illinois — Starved Rock State Park

Image Source: starvedrocklodge.com

Spanning 8,000 acres, Starved Rock State Park is a National Historic Landmark that features 13 miles of trails and 18 canyons. Experience active waterfalls in the spring and see why it was voted the #1 attraction in Illinois.

Indiana — McCormick’s Creek State Park

Image Source: visitindiana.com

The first Indiana state park, McCormick’s Creek State Park has over 100 years of history and natural beauty. Pack a picnic, explore Wolf Cave, and enjoy all the recreational activities the park has to offer, including an Olympic-size swimming pool.

Iowa — Backbone State Park

Image Source: claytoncountyiowa.com

Iowa’s first state park, Backbone is rich in history. The narrow ridge of bedrock from the Maquoketa River forms the Devil’s backbone that gives the state parks its name. Climb the limestone cliffs, take a boat along the lake, or explore the park’s long history at the CCC museum.

Kansas — Lake Scott State Park

Image Source: geokansas.ku.edu

Named a must-see state park by National Geographic, Lake Scott State Park is a beauty to behold with vast canyons, natural springs, and rugged bluffs. And, it’s as historically significant as it is beautiful. The park is home to over 26 archaeological sites. Wander the sites of  El Cuartelejo, the Steele Home, and Battle Canyon, only a mile from the park.

Kentucky — Green River Lake State Park

Image Source: parks.ky.gov

With 167 RV campsites and 60 primitive and tent sites along the river, Green River Lake State Park is a great place to park your rig or pitch your tent. Keep an ear out for songbirds as you walk along the beach, hit the trails, or play some basketball.

Louisiana — Fontainebleau State Park

Image Source: louisianatravel.com

Around this 2,800-acre park, you can find the remains of the 1829 sugar mill. Take some time to learn about the lives of those who worked there. Then, you can wander around the natural landscape, watching sailboats go by.

Maine — Baxter State Park

Image Source: mainetourism.com

Mount Katahdin, the highest mountain in Maine stands at 5,268 feet in Baxter State Park. Climb to the top for an incredible view of New England. You may even run into some moose, bear, and deer on your trek.

Maryland — South Mountain State Park 

Image Source: alltrails.com

South Mountain State Park contains 40 miles of the Appalachian Trail, and with that, is a great spot for backpacking adventurers. Mountain bikers can enjoy a 17-mile loop and anglers can fish for trout in the Jacob Fork River.

Massachusetts — Bash Bish Falls State Park

Image Source: onlyinyourstate.com

With the highest single-drop waterfall in Massachusetts, Bash Bish Falls, many flock to the state park to bask in its glory. Different trails allow you to experience it from various angles.

Michigan — Mackinac Island State Park

Image Source: mackinawchamber.com

20 years before Mackinac Island was a state park, it was actually the United States’ second national park. How’s that for some national park trivia? Experience the natural wonders of the island from the fragrant coniferous and hardwood forests to the awe-inspiring limestone formations, like Arch Rock. During the spring, you can expect hawks, waterfowl, and songbirds soaring above.

Minnesota — Split Rock Lighthouse State Park

Image Source: parksandtrails.org

Known and named for its historic lighthouse is Split Rock Lighthouse State Park. Superior Hiking Trail takes you along the North Shore while Pebble Beach is the perfect spot to sit and admire Split Rock Lighthouse as it sits on the rocky cliff above Lake Superior.

Mississippi — Tishomingo State Park 

Image Source: stateparks.com

Named after Chief Tishomingo of the Chickasaw Nation, Tishomingo State Park has a vast history. In fact, archaeological evidence shows the existence of Paleo Indians from 7000 BC, if not earlier. Experience the land that the early people called home long ago.

Missouri — Sam A Baker State Park

Image Source: seetheozarks.com

The St. Francois mountains, St. Francis River, and Big Creek make up Sam A Baker State Park. Much of the trails remain untouched, giving a view of the park as the early settlers saw it.

Montana — Makoshika State Park

Image Source: visitmt.com

The largest state park in Montana, Makoshika State Park is complete with badland formations and fossils. Walk around the badlands knowing that the likes of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops once walked there too.

Nebraska — Smith Falls State Park

Image Source: outdoornebraska.gov

At Smith Falls State Park you’ll find Nebraska’s tallest waterfall — you guessed it, Smith Falls. This 70-feet tall waterfall is a huge draw, but there is also so much more to this park, like its nationally designated scenic river. Rent a tube and float down the 76-mile stretch, taking in the scenery along the ride.

Nevada — Cathedral Gorge State Park

Image Source: travelnevada.com

Take a walk through the valley of Cathedral Gorge State Park. Here erosion has formed the soft bentonite clay into structures and patterns that make this park look like another planet — a dream for photographers and hikers alike.

New Hampshire — Franconia Notch State Park

Image Source: stavislost.com

Within White Mountain National Forest, Franconia Notch State Park is surrounded by natural beauty. From Flume Gorge to Echo Lake, there are countless to do, see, and explore. Ride the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain, flyfish at Profile Lake, hike on the Appalachian Trail, or climb the Cannon Cliffs.

New Jersey — Ringwood State Park

Image Source: njskylands.com

At the center of the Ramapo Mountains, Ringwood State Park is a great find for botanic fanatics. In fact, in the park, you’ll find the State Botanical Garden. This 96-acre botanical masterpiece is full of greenery and shrubbery of a great variety.

New Mexico — City of Rocks State Park

Image Source: wnmu.edu

New Mexico has an abundance of eye-catching rock formations, like that at City of Rocks State Park. Volcanic eruption and weathering created this interesting site that draws in the masses. Visit in early spring for mild weather, perfect for hiking and climbing, and head to a star party at the park’s observatory after dark.

New York — Letchworth State Park

Image Source: newyorkupstate.com

Voted the best attraction in New York State in 2017, Letchworth State Park is called “The Grand Canyon of the East.” Take a hot air balloon over the canyon, or a whitewater raft along the Salmon River. There’s something exciting for everyone!

North Carolina — Mount Mitchell State Park

Image Source: discoverburkecounty.com

Standing tall at 6684 feet, you can see a lot of atop Mount Mitchell. In fact, on a clear day, you can see out up to 100 miles. So, put on your hiking boots and climb to the summit!

North Dakota — Lake Sakakawea State Park

Image Source: ndtourism.com

The third-largest man-made structure in the country, Lake Sakakawea is a great place for salmon fishing, windsurfing, sailing, and swimming. Here, you’ll also find part of the North Country National Scenic Trail that spans over 4,600 miles across 7 states.

Ohio — Hocking Hills State Park

Image Source: hockinghillsstatepark.com

Hocking Hills State Park is as tranquil as it looks. Explore Old Man’s Cave, sit by Cedar Falls, or take a ziplining tour. On a Friday or Saturday night, you can head to John Glenn Astronomy Park for the best stargazing experience in the area.

Oklahoma — Little Sahara State Park

Image Source: travelok.com

As you can probably gather from the name, Little Sahara State Park resembles the Sahara Desert. With more than 1,600 acres of sand dunes, the best way to make your way through the park is by dune buggy or ATV.

Oregon — Valley of the Rogue River State Park

Image Source: reserveamerica.com

Enjoy miles of shoreline as you camp and wander along the Rogue River. You can explore the river by raft on a 35-mile stretch or by foot on the Rogue River national recreation trail.

Pennsylvania — Cherry Springs State Park

Image Source: darksky.org

Black cherry trees and the Susquehannock State Forest make up Cherry Springs State Park. The area is very remote, making it ideal for stargazing and staring out at the Milky Way.

Rhode Island — Beavertail State Park

Image Source: bostonmagazine.com

Hidden beaches, coastline views, and a historic lighthouse comprise Beavertail State Park. Along with that, the park boasts of great saltwater fishing and plenty of hiking trails.

South Carolina — Hunting Island State Park

Image Source: explorebeaufortsc.com

Hunting Island is the most popular South Carolina state park, and for good reason. With miles of beach, acres of forestry and marsh, tons of wildlife, and a saltwater lagoon, what more could you want? Venture to the top of the only publicly accessible lighthouse in the state and keep an eye out for loggerhead turtles!

South Dakota — Custer State Park

Image Source: travelsouthdakota.com

In the Black Hills of South Dakota, more than 1,400 bison call the 71,000-acre Custer State Park home. Paddle along the mountain waters and look in wonder as the wildlife wanders around this open range.

Tennessee — Fall Creek Falls State Park

Image Source: tnstateparks.com

Atop the Cumberland Plateau lies one of Tennessee’s largest and most-visited state park, Fall Creek Falls. Gorges, waterfalls, and streams make up much of the park’s 29,800 acres. Fall Creek Falls, by which the park is named, falls from 256 feet, making it one of the tallest in the eastern U.S.!

Texas — Palo Duro Canyon

Image Source: twpd.texas.gov

Deep in the heart of Texas, you’ll find the second largest canyon in the country. Rugged in its beauty and, like many of the state parks, rich in its history, Palo Duro Canyon is one for the bucket list.

Utah — Dead Horse State Park

Image Source: discovermoab.com

A prettier place than its name suggests, Dead Horse State Park is full of colorful cliffs and canyons that extend to Canyonlands National Park. You may recognize this landscape from the famous film, Thelma & Louise. 

Vermont — Grand Isle State Park

Image Source: pinterest.com

On the edge of Lousiana are the warm gulf waters of Grand Isle State Park. Pitch a tent in the sand, wade in the surf, and grab your binoculars for some birdwatching.

Virginia — Natural Tunnel State Park

Image Source: pinterest.com

The naturally carved tunnel of Natural Tunnel State Park is 850 feet long and 10 stories tall. The formation of the tunnel through this limestone ridge dates back thousands of years. Explore the 909 acres with a cave tour or canoe trip.

Washington — Palouse Falls State Park

Image Source: hikingwashington.com

This remote park lies off the beaten path. The 198-foot waterfall, Palouse Falls, is its main attraction but doesn’t draw as many visitors as other Washington parks. You can expect fewer crowds and some peace and quiet on your visit.

West Virginia — Blackwater Falls State Park

Image Source: wvstateparks.com

Another waterfall has made it on the list. Blackwater Falls State Park is not just another waterfall, however; it’s one of the most photographed sites in West Virginia. The five-story falls are colored by tannic acid, which is part of what makes it so photogenic. Head to the park and get a shot of your own.

Wisconsin — Devil’s Lake State Park

Image Source: devilslakewisconsin.com

About 3 million visitors a year flock to Devil’s Lake State Park. With Wisconsin’s four distinct seasons, spring is sure to be a stunning time for a visit. And being that it’s not far from downtown Barbaroo, you can get the best of both worlds.

Wyoming — Curt Gowdy State Park

Image Source: cheyenne.org

Three reservoirs make up Curt Gowdy State Park — Granite, Crystal, and North Crow. The reservoirs make it a great park for water sports and fishing. While 35-miles of trails lead the way for mountain bikers and hikers alike. Decorated by hidden waterfalls and rocky trails, Curt Gowdy is packed with adventure.

Spring road trip, anyone?

If you’re itching for a spring road trip, these 50 state parks make the perfect destination. Find a great state park in or near your state, rent an RV, and get to packing!

Need more RV travel inspiration? Check out these national forests to visit along your way.

Lizzie Dragon

Outdoorsy Author

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