Palo Duro Canyon State Park is located about 25 miles Southeast of Amarillo, TX. It's the second largest canyon in the United States! There is a 16 mile scenic drive that takes you to the floor of the canyon with the lighthouse being one of the main attractions. This park offers a campground, horseback riding, biking and great hiking trails. Every summer it puts on the Texas Outdoor Musical in the Pioneer Amphitheater carved out of and nestled into the natural basin in the canyon.
Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park is located in Whitehall, MT about an hour west of Bozeman. It’s Montana’s first and best-known state park. Two types of cavern tours are offered. We chose the 2 mile, 2 hour tour which requires visitors to navigate over 600 stairs, bend, duck, waddle and even slide (according to their website). A much less challenging tour is also offered which takes visitors to the largest and most decorated area of the cave, the Paradise Room. In addition to its main feature this park has camping, hiking, mountain biking and more.
Florida’s Dr. Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park is located on the barrier island of St. George located in the Gulf of Mexico. No need for a boat to reach it though ~ just drive across the 4 mile St. George Island Bridge which begins in Eastpoint. This beautiful park offers 9 miles of sugary white sand beach! On the bay side of the park there are marshes, 3.5 miles of nature trails, a campground, and 2 boat docks. The park road provides fabulous views of the dunes, bay and Gulf. But don’t just take our word for it, come see for yourself!
Snow Canyon State Park is located just 15 miles from St. George, Utah. The Navajo sandstone ranging from burnt orange to creamy white interspersed with black lava rock is a sight to behold. This park has hiking, walking/biking, and equestrian trails, as well as campground. Just a drive thru the park will have you in awe.
Chimney Rock State Park is about 100 miles west of Charlotte, NCand 28 miles southeast of Asheville. This granite monolith is quite a spectacle! There are lots of stairs, but not to worry, there’s also an elevator that provides easy access to the top for sweeping views of the area.
If you want to go out on the chimney, you will have to climb the staircase shown once you exit the elevator. Or you can just sit down and enjoy your favorite ice cream while taking in the fresh mountain air. Also don’t forget to check out Hickory Nut Waterfall, one of the tallest falls east of the Mississippi at 404’. It’s a moderate 1.4 mile hike from the bottom of the chimney.
Custer State Park is located within the Black Hills of South Dakota, and it’s one of the nation’s largest state parks. It’s famous for its bison herds, but there’s so much more. Visitors can see deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, burros, coyotes, prairie dogs and more! Bobcats and mountain lions also live in the park, but they are nocturnal. There are 3 scenic drives that allow up-close views of the wildlife, needle-like granite formations, forests, meadows, prairies, hills and more. Plus Custer offers 9 campgrounds. It's a magnificent, must-see park.
We visited once in the summer and once at the end of Sept. for the Buffalo Round Up, at which time we were surprised by a snowfall one morning. Also check out Iron Mountain Road has 3 tunnels that frame Mount Rushmore in the distance with the last one having the best view!
Valley of Fire State Park is located 55 miles Northeast of Vegas and is Nevada's oldest and largest state park. Driving thru this park is truly amazing! It contains bright red Aztec sandstone outcrops, ancient petrified logs, petroglyphs that date back more than 2000 years, great hiking trails, and two campgrounds.
The feral horses at Assateague State Park are captivating. The herd consists of 80-100 horses and may be seen on the beach or in the marsh areas of Maryland’s only oceanfront state park located on Assateague Island. You may also want to check out the much larger herd on Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge located on the Virginia side of Assateague Island. The Assateague Lighthouse is located on the Virginia portion as well, and is still operational and open for public tours.
Providence Canyon State Park aka "Georgia’s Little Grand Canyon” looks like something found in the West! This unusual, but fascinating canyon was formed by massive gullies caused by poor farming practices in the 1800’s. It can be viewed from above by the rim trail. And there’s a parking lot on the rim trail where it can be seen right from your vehicle. Although this is a day-use park, nearby Florence Marina State Park has a campground, which is where we stayed during our visit.
About 80 miles East of Nashville, TN is Burgess Falls State Park. It's located on the Falling Water River and is a day-use park. It boasts four waterfalls with the last being the most spectacular, plunging more than 130’ into the gorge. There is a 1.5 mile moderate round-trip hiking trail to see these falls. The trail ends at an observation deck which overlooks this uniquely shaped, gorgeous waterfall. At this point, there is also a trail to the bottom for an entirely different perspective. We’ve seen hundreds of waterfalls in many shapes and heights, and this is one of our favorites! Check out Fall Creek Falls State Park also. It’s a nearby park with waterfalls and a campground. There are many striking falls in this area of TN!
If a state park doesn’t offer a campground or you can’t get in it, don’t be discouraged. There is usually a nearby campground where you can stay. Look for another state park, a private campground or RV park, a recreational area, an Army Corps of Engineers campground, etc. In some parts of the country, state parks may be located close enough together that you can visit 2 or more in one trip! We hope this list of outstanding parks encourages you to find one you are interested in visiting. Every state has a list of its parks and information on each one. With so many in our country from which to choose, hopefully you can find one that sparks your interest!