Our Recommendations for State Parks to Explore


We’d like to offer up some amazing state parks that we feel are worth a stop! We compiled this list during the 2018 government shutdown and wanted to keep this list up as we truly feel these parks are worthy of planning a visit to see them in all their glory and beauty.

Custer State Park , photo by Custer State Park.

Custer State Park, photo by Custer State Park.

Custer State Park

Custer, in the same region as Wind Cave National Park, is South Dakota's largest state park, and home to a fantastic 1,500 strong herd of bison, miles of trails, and three unique scenic drives. Plenty of other animals call the park home, as such it’s a great place to photograph wildlife. Make sure to stop off at the nearly brand new Visitor Center to get all the info you need to tour this majestic park. Custer State Park is amazing in all four seasons, including winter! @CusterStatePark https://gfp.sd.gov/state-parks/directory/custer

Big Basin Redwoods State Park,  photo  by Allie_Caulfield / CC 2.0

Big Basin Redwoods State Park, photo by Allie_Caulfield / CC 2.0

Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Big Basin is conveniently located less than an hour from downtown San Jose. It's the oldest state park in California, and features multitudes of old growth coastal redwood trees, some of which are more than 2,500 years old! The park also has ample camping and lots of trails to explore via scenic day hikes or overnight backpacking. @CAStateParks http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=415

Falls Creek State Park (Tennessee) or Natural Bridge State Park (Kentucky)

Falls Creek State Park has the second-most caves of any park in the eastern U.S., though sadly all of the caves are currently closed to the public in order to stop the spread of White Nose Syndrome in bats. However, another real treat is seeing the myriad of fantastic waterfalls. Many are not quite as active in the winter, but there are plenty of trails for exploring the natural landscape. Natural Bridge in Kentucky has a fantastic sandstone bridge, 78 feet long and 65 feet high. The park encompasses over 2,000 acres of land, with many easy to moderate trails. @TennStateParks www.tnstateparks.com/FallCreekFalls @KYStateParks http://parks.ky.gov/parks/resortparks/natural-bridge/

Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park is just south of Columbus, Ohio, and shares similar topography as Cuyahoga Valley National Park in northeastern Ohio. Hocking Hills' beauty was carved out by the ice age glaciers, the sandstone undulates and flows along with the water that continues to shape the park to this day. There are many great short day trails (from easy to difficult) that lead though the forest and to waterfalls. The winter often changes the park into a snow and icy wonderland @OhioStateParks http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills

Canyonlands / Arches National Parks to Dead Horse Point State Park

On the same road to access Canyonlands National Park and only a short drive from Arches National Park, you’ll find one of the most extraordinary state parks, Dead Horse Point. Famous for the same scenery as Canyonlands, there you’ll discover amazing hikes and breathtaking vistas. It is also used as a filming location for HBO’s Westworld. https://stateparks.utah.gov/parks/dead-horse/

Dead Horse Point State Park, photo by  Pedro Szekely / CC 2.0

Dead Horse Point State Park, photo by Pedro Szekely / CC 2.0

Ecola State Park,  photo  by Adrian Mills / CC 2.0

Ecola State Park, photo by Adrian Mills / CC 2.0

Ecola State Park (Oregon)

Ecola State Park has a similar landscape as Olympic National Park in Washington. The official website says it all: “Wrapping around Tillamook Head, between Seaside and Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park stretches along 9 miles of coastline and offers outstanding sightseeing and recreation opportunities combined with a storied past. Though the scenic and hiking opportunities may be the main allure, the diversity of outdoor recreation including picnicking, tidepooling, surfing and wildlife observation make Ecola State Park a destination year round.” @ORStateParks http://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=136

Assateague Island National Seashore to Assateague State Park

On the same island as the National Seashore, the state park is the land you first encounter after you cross the Verrazano Bridge on Route 611. Some prefer the state park, as it allows pets and has full services in the summer, including concessions, fishing, campsites, and a camp store. The ponies wander all over the island and there’s a real good chance you’ll see them in the state park as well! @MDStateParks http://dnr.maryland.gov/publiclands/Pages/eastern/assateague.aspx

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

The second largest state park in the U.S with over 900 square miles of desert park, Anza-Borrego Desert Park  is south of Joshua Tree National Park and east of San Diego, offering a unique desert and mountain landscape for exploring. Come for a chance to see the rare but very famous desert bighorn sheep and stay to camp and hike at one of the many sites and trails offered by the park. @CAStateParks http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=638

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park,  photo  by John Fowler / CC 2.0

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, photo by John Fowler / CC 2.0

Banner photo of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park by Doorino / CC 2.0