With over 6,000 state parks in the U.S, it can be difficult to narrow down the best options to add to your travel bucket list. Regardless of if you are looking for miles of beach, mountainous terrain, or a lush forest, you will find a state park to meet your needs. Here are five of the best state parks to stop on during your summer road trip.
Dead Horse Point State Park – Moab, Utah
Located in the high desert of eastern Utah, Dead Horse Point State Park traverses over 5,000 acres. The park is brimming with rocks to climb, towering cliffs, cavernous canyons, and more. Because of the absence of light pollution, the park is also a great place to stargaze.
This popular state park offers a number of comforts and conveniences, including dining amenities, campgrounds, yurts, and more. Hikers will appreciate the dedicated 8-mile hiking trail that offers numerous scenic overlooks. A 17-mile mountain biking trail is popular for visitors who prefer to travel by wheels.
Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park – Big Sur, California
It does not get much more gorgeous than the Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park in Big Sur, California. The park is named after a famous rancher who lived in the area during the early 20th century. Expanding out over 3,700 acres, the park’s biggest claim to fame is its location right next to the Pacific Ocean.
In addition to the sweeping ocean views, you will also enjoy exploring the redwoods that dot the landscape of this park. The park provides campsites positioned right next to the water, numerous hiking trails, and an underwater scuba diving area. Keep in mind that some of the areas are restricted in an effort to preserve the sensitive marine reserves and wildfire that call this corner of the Pacific home.
South Toledo Bend State Park – Sabine Parish, Louisiana
Right on the border of Louisiana and Texas, you will find the scenic South Toledo Bend State Park. The park is located a short 20 minutes from Alexandria, Louisiana, and about 40 minutes from Jasper Texas. This state gem offers a variety of activities including fishing, biking, and birdwatching.
While there is no shortage of activities at South Toledo Bend State Park, there is no doubt that the area is most distinguished for its prime fishing. The lake is full of catfish, largemouth bass, and white perch. Cast your line from the shoreline or head out on a boat. This destination is also the only state park in Louisiana that allows ATVs, making it a popular spot for off-roading adventures.
Chugach State Park – Anchorage, Alaska
As the third-latest state park in the nation, there is an abundance of beauty to be found in Chugach State Park in Anchorage, Alaska. The park covers 500,000 acres, providing plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Visitors will encounter pristine stretches of coastline, stunning glaciers, and more.
You will also have the opportunity to get up close and personal with loads of wildlife native to the area, including bears and moose. The 3-mile trail that runs along the Eagle River is one of the best places to spot these animals. Or head out to the 12-mile Lakeside Trail for another perspective of the park, passing by the famous Eklutna Glacier. You can also hunt and fish at the Chugach State Park, making it an outdoorsman’s dream.
Niagara Falls State Park – Niagara Falls, New York
While it may sound cliche, every American should pay a visit to Niagara Falls State Park. Millions of visitors descend upon this park each year to catch a glimpse of the American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Canadian Falls. You can also get closer to the falls by taking a boat tour or exploring the caves located below the falls.
The cascading waterfalls are not the only sight to see at this site park. Exploring the network of hiking trails or hopping on the guided trolley are also fun activities. Be sure to head up the 230-foot observation tower for amazing views of the American and Horseshoe Falls.
The nation’s network of state parks is one of its greatest treasures. You owe it to yourself to check out these wonders for yourself.
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