The Most Beautiful State Parks in the US
National parks tend to hog the spotlight (ahem, Grand Canyon), but state parks are just as majestic and even more plentiful. In fact, the US has over 6,600 state parks covering 14 million acres (by comparison, there are only a measly 63 national parks).
While visiting every state park is certainly a challenge, there’s no reason you can’t visit as many as possible. Some of the best include the following:
Makoshika State Park
Makoshika State Park, the largest state park in Montana, is a must-see for those with a fond appreciation for prehistoric times. In short, it’s a fossil-filled adventure and great for dinosaur-loving children. The remains of more than 10 species of dinosaur have been found on these lands, including those of T-Rex, resident rebel of the Cretaceous period.
Roxborough State Park
Roxborough State Park has a bit of a homefield advantage, but it’s worthy of this list, nonetheless. It’s perhaps the best state park in Colorado for wildlife viewing (including the wildlife you probably don’t want to run into). Black bears, mountain lions, deer, elk, coyotes, foxes, and rabbits are known to frequent the area. It’s fantastic for hiking as well, particularly if you want to avoid the uber-crowded trails.
Cayo Costa State Park
Not many state parks come with a pod of dolphins, but this one does! Located in Captiva, Florida, Cayo Costa State Park is only accessible by boat or helicopter, already making it one of the coolest parks around. It’s covered in white-sand beaches and peppered with the skeletal remains of trees that give it a rustic look and feel. Spotting sea life in the nearby water is a pretty common occurrence; in other words, bring your camera.
Cape Lookout State Park
Cape Lookout State Park can be described as the place where the ocean merges with the pines. Located along the Oregon Coast Trail, this is the ideal park for those who love hiking. It offers several flat but muddy trails and spectacular views. On a clear day, you can see 42 miles ahead. The park is located near Tillamook - stop for ice cream on your way in, on your way home, or both.
Antelope Island State Park
Antelope Island State Park is an easy getaway for anyone in a Four Corners state. It sits on an island atop the Great Salt Lake and is packed full of free-roaming bison and antelope (the park is aptly named). Like many parts of Utah, the area is a cyclist’s dream, with 36 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails.
Whether you visit one state park or thousands, each offers a unique experience and a chance to see Mother Nature at her finest. Go out and experience America the beautiful one acre at a time.
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Metadata: From those in Oregon, Utah, and Colorado and beyond, there are plenty of state parks worthy of a visit. Read on to discover our favorites.