It’s a pretty well-kept secret that there are a number of American state parks are actually more spectacular than some of the national parks. Moreover, the state park system in the US is vastly bigger than the national park system—10,000+ units versus 400+ units. The visitation numbers reflect this, too. Almost 800 million people visit the American state parks every year, while the national parks receive just more than 330 million visitors.
5 Amazing American State Parks
This is just to say that you don’t need to focus on the national parks if you’re after an outdoor adventure. Some state parks are just as good—and sometimes much better. To give you an idea of what the American state parks have to offer, the listing below features a handful of the greatest American state parks. If you have the chance, you should definitely go and check them out. They’re pretty sensational.
1. Dead Horse Point State Park, UT
Located near Moab, Utah, Dead Horse Point State Park is one of the greatest American state parks. In fact, many of the national parks have less spectacular scenery than this state park. The park is home to epic mountain biking and hiking trails and boasts one of the most breathtaking scenic views in the United States. Combine a visit to Dead Horse Point with scenic drives and hikes in nearby Canyonlands National Park and Arches National Park.
2. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is one of the absolute best state parks anywhere in America. It’s also one of the largest, covering 600,000 acres of plains, mountains and riverbeds in the Colorado Desert. If you plan to visit this fantastic park, do so in spring. After the winter rains, springtime features a gorgeous wildflower bloom in the park. It’s a unique sight and a major attraction in this corner of the country.
3. Custer State Park, SD
The oldest and biggest state park in South Dakota, Custer State Park is renowned for its photo-friendly herd of wild bison. You can explore this huge area of grasslands and hills by car on scenic drives or on foot on one of the park’s fun hiking trails. Additionally, there’s also a number of historic sites to visit and campgrounds to relax at. Because of its combination of iconic North American wildlife and pioneering and Native American history, this is one of the best places to discover what the Wild West was like.
4. Franconia Notch State Park, NH
Franconia Notch State Park occupies an area along Interstate 93 as it cuts through Franconia Notch, a wide pass between two majestic mountain ranges in the White Mountains. There are numerous attractions in this gorgeous park, from the Cannon Mountain Aerial Tramway to Echo Lake, the Flume Gorge and the former site of the Old Man of the Mountain.
5. Palo Duro Canyon State Park, TX
Nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of Texas”, Palo Duro Canyon is the second-largest canyon in the United States. Only the Grand Canyon is bigger. Here, too, you can enjoy sweeping canyon views, go for epic hikes, descend into the canyon on horseback and spend the night stargazing from a wonderful campsite. What’s more, though, is that this park also has its very own live entertainment venue—the amazing Pioneer Amphitheater.
Have you ever been to any of these great American state parks? Is there another one you can recommend? Share your thoughts in the comments below!