The National Parks across the U.S. are part of the federal park system, but did you know every state has its own park system? There are over 7,000 state parks created for people to enjoy. Trails, bicycling, dog walking, ponds, lakes, streams and some of the best parts of the land have been made into parks to protect and preserve the area. Parks can be seen in cities, the country and pretty much everywhere. More people visit state parks than national parks. They are easy to get to and conveniently located maybe even outside your front door! Discover some of the best state parks in your area this weekend!
Palo Duro Canyon
Head to the Texas Panhandle to the rim of the Palo Duro Canyon where the fun begins. The red rock of the walls and floor are pretty, and the canyon is a great place to explore, especially by horseback. It is 120 miles long and over 800 feet deep and 20 miles wide in some areas. The park is 20,000 acres of opportunity and hikers, ATVs, vehicles and more have driven and explored the canyon. Camping is available for tents, horses, and RVs and three stone cabins were built in the 1930s on the rim available for rent. This park is a more active park, with lots of physical elements involved. There are ways to get to the bottom and then miles of the canyon to cover if you so desire.
Tennessee’s Fall Creek State Park has over 26,000 acres for visitors to explore. The Fall Creek Falls can be seen here, and it is one of the highest drop waterfalls in the east at over a 200-foot drop. There are about three other waterfalls to see in the park too. Try out the Olympic-size pool, an 18-hole golf course, playgrounds, tennis courts, basketball courts and shuffleboard that are available. Hiking and fishing are favorite activities too, and there are some really neat bridges and lovely scenery to see and don’t forget the waterfalls! Swim in a natural swimming hole surrounded by rock and where a waterfall flows in to. Head upstream from the Cane Creek Falls where the Rockhouse Falls flow into the large pool for a fantastic swimming experience. This park is the most visited state park in Tennessee and has plenty of fun things to do, both human-made and natural.
In sunny Florida lies the Weeki Wachee State Park. Spring fed rivers and pools make the water a balmy 74 degrees. Attracting many to its banks to wade or swim in beautiful water. The springs are open all year long, and the park hosts many other things to do like a water slide and animal shows. One of the most popular shows is the “mermaid” show where mermaids swim in an underwater aquarium-type setting for guests to watch. The Weeki Wachee River has riverboat cruises, or guests can kayak or canoe along the gorgeous river. Some parts of the water have tree canopies that provide shade and fell like a jungle.
Lake Michigan touches the very top of the state of Indiana and is part of the Indiana Dunes State Park. The dunes are a huge attraction, as well as fishing, birding, hiking and relaxing. There are fifteen miles of beachfront property in the park, and it is considered to have some of the best lakefront beaches in the U.S. The park’s dunes grow into forests, marshes and prairies beyond the coast and there are over sixty miles of biking and hiking trails for visitors. Lie on the soft dunes and play in the lake, or explore the park’s trails for some impressive scenery.
Custer State Park
Gentle rolling hills of grasslands make up most of Custer State Park in South Dakota. The park has 71,000 acres to explore and one of the best ways to see the area is to take the Needles highway. Tunnels carved through massive rocks, Sylvan Lake, and scenic views can be seen along the drive. A Wildlife Loop can be considered to see pronghorn, elk and bighorn sheep. The annual roundup is held at the end of September where cowboys and cowgirls round up and corral over 1,000 bisons in the area. The bison is then branded, inspected and later released to make sure the herd is healthy. Guest are allowed to watch the proceedings from the two viewing areas provided for a once in a lifetime experience.
Franconia Notch is a fantastic and beautiful place to visit and spend time. A great bike path has been created, and bike rentals are available. How about spending time at a beach in the middle of the mountains of New Hampshire? Echo Lake Beach is one of a kind, with views of Mt. Lafayette and Cannon Mountain and even sand to lay and play on. Swimming, fishing, and boating, as well as kayaking and canoeing, are all activities you can do at Echo Lake. There are magnificent wooden bridges that cross the creeks and wooden platforms and hiking trails that run right alongside and over the river for perfect views the entire way. Spend time walking along the flowing water and see a waterfall, or hike up to the top of the mountains for the best views for miles around.
The famous Niagara Falls resides on both Canadian and U.S. soil. The Niagara Falls state park is a hugely popular place in New York. Visitors can stand on constructed decks above the falls and see the pool below. Ride a boat into the Horseshoe Falls and get some fantastic pictures of Niagara from the water. This is America’s oldest state park and one of the most popular! Over 3,000 tons of water flows per second through the falls and the views are breathtaking! See the biggest waterfall in the U.S.!
Each Has Something to Offer
From the rolling plains to the towering mountains to astonishing waterfalls, each state has something to offer. Lie on a beach in the mountains or walk alongside a creek that flows through the forest for magical discoveries in all sorts of terrains throughout the U.S. There are thousands of parks in America, and all offer the best in each state. Each state has many parks to choose from as well as a variety of activities. What are you waiting for? Summer is approaching, and springtime is a great time to start and see the best state parks in the U.S.