50 States of Adventurous State Parks
The national parks are great to visit, but they can get crowded. Find out where the locals go for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, water sports, camping and more.
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Alabama: Lake Guntersville State Park
Lake Guntersville State Park is situated on the banks of Lake Guntersville in the northern part of the state. The park features an 18-hole championship golf course, a beautifully designed lodge, miles of hiking, biking and horseback trails, a beach swimming area and a zip line system. Lake Guntersville has always been a popular destination for bass fishermen, but the new zip line provides an alternative for the adventure enthusiast. While you are staying at Lake Guntersville State Park, take time to visit Cathedral Caverns State Park only 40 minutes away. The caves and caverns traverse over a one mile underground terrain.
Alaska: Chugach State Park
Chugach State Park — located in the south central area of the state — is approximately 495,000 acres, making it one of the largest state parks in the nation. The park’s vast acreage is comprised of diverse land forms from rugged mountains to ocean shoreline. The park’s westernmost boundary lies in the western foothills of the Chugach Mountain Range and is a mere seven miles from downtown Anchorage. There are three campgrounds within the park and backcountry camping is permitted throughout the park. If walls and a bed are more your thing, there are cabins to rent. There’s plenty to do in Chugach no matter the season: snowmobiling, horseback riding, off-roading, biking, boating and hiking just to name a few.
Arizona: Slide Rock State Park
Slide Rock Park is located seven miles north of the town of Sedona and about 25 miles south of Flagstaff. The park sits within the Coconino National Forest and borders the Secret Mountain Wilderness Area. Both areas offer an array of outdoor recreation, but, the can’t-be-missed feature in the park is the 80-foot long rock slide that is the park's namesake. The natural rock chute is covered with just enough algae to make it slippery so you can take a fun, gradual ride down to an Oak Creek’s swimming hole.
Arkansas: Pinnacle Mountain State Park
Pinnacle Mountain State Park is located just west of Little Rock. The 2,356-acre park features a diversity of natural habitats, from high upland peaks to bottomlands that run along the Big Maumelle and Little Maumelle Rivers. The park's namesake, Pinnacle Mountain rises more than 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River Valley. The mountain's cone-shaped peak has long been a central Arkansas landmark and attraction for outdoor enthusiasts. Two of the park's hiking trails lead up to the mountain's beautiful summit. If climbing isn’t your thing, the park has a wide variety of hiking trails in varying degrees of difficulty. The east side of the park offers bikers more than eight miles of single-track mountain bike trails.
California: Anza Borrego Desert State Park
The Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (ABDSP) is the largest state park in California. It boasts more than 600,000 acres of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas, two campgrounds and many miles of hiking trails. ABDSP is about a two-hour drive northeast from San Diego. Borrego Springs, the first International Dark Sky Community in California, is located within the park and is an ideal destination for stargazing. When the sun is out and you’re not stargazing, you can explore the park by foot, an off-road vehicle or on horseback. The Pacific Crest Trail, which spans 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada runs right through ABDSP.
Colorado: Ruby Mountain
Adventure awaits in the upper Arkansas River Valley, Colorado’s most diverse and vibrant state park — the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area (AHRA). Nestled in a spacious valley with a milder climate and surrounded by 14,000-foot mountain peaks, AHRA beckons thrill seekers year-round. The recreation area is one of the most popular whitewater boating rivers in the U.S. A range of challenging levels await whitewater rafters, canoeists, kayakers and stand-up paddle boarders, from Class II and III for beginner and family trips, to roaring Class IV and V rapids for the adventure-minded. For those more interested in recreation on land, there’s plenty to do along the river’s winding course, like rock climbing the steep-walled canyons. Wade anglers can try their luck in the Gold Medal waters, and hikers and mountain bikers can access a variety of trails from campgrounds and day-use sites.
Connecticut: Satan's Kingdom State Recreation Area
Beautiful stretches of the Farmington River run right through Satan’s Kingdom State Recreation Area. Located just inside the city of New Hartford, the park is very popular for river tubing, fishing and other activities including kayaking, canoeing and hiking. The waterway is calm in some area, feisty in others, making a great spot for families and adventurers of all skill levels.
Delaware: Lums Pond State Park
Located in Bear, Lums Pond State Park is famous for the largest freshwater pond and some of the most beautiful views in Delaware. The park features excellent fishing, boating, biking, horseback riding, hiking and sports facilities. Fly through the trees and experience the Go Ape! zip-lining course, which features rope ladders, treetop crossings, Tarzan swings, and five zip lines (four of them over water). The park’s newly renovated campground, cabins, playgrounds and dog park will keep the whole family busy.
Florida: Madison Blue Spring State Park
Located not too far from the intersection of I-75 and I-10 in northern Florida, Madison Blue Spring Park is the home to a unique crystal-clear swimming hole. Cascading over piles of limestone boulders, this freshwater spring is a popular destination for families to cool off; but the spring is also attached to a large underwater cave system making it a favorite destination for scuba divers from all around the globe. This is for serious divers only; the caves are only open to certified cave and cavern divers, no open-water diving allowed. Proof of cave and/or cavern certification must be presented at the ranger station. If you’d rather stay above the water, the park rents kayaks so you can fish and explore the adjacent Withlacoochee River.
Georgia: Cloudland Canyon State Park
Located in northern Georgia, on the edge of Lookout Mountain, Cloudland Canyon is one of the largest and most scenic parks in the state. Home to thousand-foot deep canyons, sandstone cliffs, caves, waterfalls, cascading creeks, dense woodland and abundant wildlife, the park offers ample outdoor recreation opportunities. Visitors can enjoy 30 miles of hiking and mountain biking (bike rental available), guided cave tours, disc golf and geocaching. Equestrians can explore 16 miles of horse trails. Accommodations include "glamping" yurts, modern campsites, primitive backpacking sites and fully-equipped cabins.
Hawaii: Waimea Canyon State Park
Waimea Canyon State Park on the island of Kauai is known as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Stretching 14 miles across the western end of the island, it is one mile wide and more than 3,600 feet deep. The main road, Waimea Canyon Drive, leads to several lookout points where you can enjoy panoramic views of crested buttes, rugged crags and deep valley gorges. The canyon is filled with numerous hiking trails for beginners to expert trekkers alike. Tours are available to explore the Waimea River or bike down the canyon.
Idaho: Bruneau Dunes State Park
At Bruneau Dunes State Park you don’t have to wait until winter to ski or sled, you can rent equipment and ride down the sand dunes any time of year. About a one hour drive south of Boise, the park boasts a 470-foot sand dune, the tallest freestanding sand dune in North America. From the top, you can take in views of small lakes, desert and surrounding mountains. When you’re done marveling at the vista, slide down the dune on a sandboard or sled. Bruneau Dunes State Park is also known for stargazing. The park’s public observatory allows visitors to view other galaxies through its 25-inch Newtonian Reflector telescope. Solar viewing through a specially adapted solar telescope is also available in the evening before sunset. Other activities at Bruneau Dunes include fishing, birdwatching, camping, hiking and swimming.
Illinois: Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park is located on the Illinois River, close to where I-80 meets I-39. The park features 13 miles of trails for a variety of skill levels, many with waterfalls to discover along the way. If water sports are more your thing, the Illinois River offers fishing (ice fishing, too), kayak rentals and whitewater rafting. Winter activities include cross-country skiing, ice climbing and winter hiking. Don’t limit your trip to one day; stay at the park’s historic lodge or rent a cabin or campsite.
Indiana: Turkey Run State Park
Carved out of glaciers millions of years ago, Turkey Run State Park’s unique geology makes for some ruggedly beautiful hiking trails. A walk into the woods takes you on a trip through time, as the deep ravines and sandstone gorges represent 600 to 300 million years of nature's handiwork. If you’d prefer being on the water, bring your canoe or rent one from a nearby outfitter to cruise the scenic Sugar Creek river. Stay overnight at the nearly 100-year-old lodge, or you can rent a cabin or RV.
Iowa: Backbone State Park
Backbone State Park — near the town of Dundee — is Iowa’s oldest state park. Dedicated in 1919, Backbone is named for its narrow and steep ridge of bedrock carved by a loop of the Maquoketa River. These walls of bedrock and limestone are what make Backbone a great place to rock climb. The most popular rock escarpments to ascend are located near the Backbone Trail. Climbers and rappellers must register at the park office. The park also boasts 21 miles of hiking and multi-use trails, canoeing, trout streams, mountain biking trails and snowmobiling in the winter. Stay at one of the park’s two campgrounds or rent a one- or two-bedroom cottage.
Kansas: Wilson State Park
Wilson State Park is located in the heart of the Smoky Hills region, due west of Kansas City. The Wilson Reservoir features a rugged shoreline punctuated by scenic cliffs and rocky outcrops. The park is one of Kansas' premier recreation hot spots to fish, hike, bike, waterski, kayak and enjoy the outdoors. The 25.5-mile long Switchgrass Bike Trail is popular with mountain bikers to pursue this challenging activity. The reservoir offers a swimming beach, a marina for paddling or motor boats, and excellent white bass and striped bass angling.
Kentucky: Breaks Interstate Park
Shared by Kentucky and Virginia, Breaks Interstate Park is a one-of-a-kind adventure destination. Appropriately called the Grand Canyon of the South, the park offers rock climbing at 75 approved routes. The Russell Fork River offers some of the best and most challenging paddling east of the Mississippi River. When the dam is released, up to class VI rapids can be experienced. Some of these rapids have intimidating names like "twenty stitches" and "broken nose." If you’re looking for calmer waters, the dock at Laurel Lake rents pedal boats, canoes and Johnboats. Mountain bike enthusiasts will enjoy the 12 miles of loop trails and hikers have over 25 miles of trails to choose from. Visitors can stay in the lodge, one of the cottages or rough it at one of the many campsites.
Louisiana: Chicot State Park
One of the top three visited state parks in Louisiana, Chicot State Park offers over 6,400 acres of rolling hills and water. An extensive hiking 20-mile trail completely encircles Lake Chicot and includes several primitive campsites along the way. The hiking trails allow visitors to experience and enjoy the park's natural landscape like the bottomland hardwood forest. For visitors who enjoy a quicker pace, many of the trails are geared toward mountain bikers, and all cyclists are welcome to ride the roadways throughout the park. The cool, clear waters of Lake Chicot have yielded record freshwater catches of largemouth bass, crappie, bluegill and red-ear sunfish. Overnight accommodations include cabins, lodges, a group camp and nearly 200 RV campsites.
Maine: Baxter State Park
Back in 1931, the former Maine governor donated the land to create the natural masterpiece that is Baxter State Park. Intending the park to be "for those who love nature and are willing to walk and make an effort to get close to nature," he mandated that the park remain "forever wild." For visitors, "forever wild" means few creature comforts. There is no electricity, no running water, no Wi-Fi, no food and no gas. Facilities are primitive, roads are unpaved and services are minimal. Park rules limit the size of vehicles and ban motorized trail bikes and motorcycles. It’s truly a place to unplug and reconnect with nature. Baxter is home to the state’s tallest peak, Mount Katahdin, and marks the starting point (or ending point) for the Appalachian Trail. Baxter’s 210,000-acres also boasts 46 peaks and ridges and 215 miles of hiking trails waiting to be explored. The Penobscot River is favored by whitewater rafters for its Class V rapids. It’s easy to get afloat on more placid waters at the park’s five pond-side campgrounds, which rent canoes by the hour.
Maryland: Assateague Island State Park
Assateague State Park is located on Assateague Island, a barrier island bordered by the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Sinepuxent Bay on the west. Its two miles of ocean beaches offer swimming, beachcombing, sunbathing, surfing and fishing. The bayside allows visitors the chance to explore secluded coves by canoe or kayak. The marsh areas have a variety of wildlife, including deer, waterfowl and feral horses.
Massachusetts: Freetown State Forest
In the southeast part of the state, just 15 minutes from New Bedford, lies Freetown State Forest. The 6,550-acre forest has been a Mecca for area mountain bikers since the sport began. The forest offers 50 miles of unpaved roads and trails. Horseback riders, dog sledders, mountain bikers, dirt bikes and snowmobile all traverse the park. Rattlesnake Brook, which meanders throughout much of the property, is stocked with brook trout each spring
Michigan: Porcupine Mountains
The 60,000 acres that make up Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park offer awesome year-round recreational opportunities that will appeal to even the most rugged outdoor enthusiast. Filled with towering virgin timber, secluded lakes and miles of wild rivers and streams, the park is one of the few remaining large wilderness areas in the Midwest. Accommodation include hike- or ski-in backcountry campsites and yurts. If you prefer modern amenities, you can rent a private lodge overlooking the shores of Lake Superior. Other activities within the park include a disc-golf course, downhill ski area and waterfall hikes.
Minnesota: Temperance River State Park
On the northeastern edge of Minnesota, on the shores of Lake Superior, sits Temperance River State Park. The narrow Temperance River started cutting through ancient lava flows billions of years ago and the results are a vast gorge with a steep-gradient river, breathtaking waterfalls and gorgeous vistas. The gorge offers miles of hiking trails and rock climbing opportunities. Winter brings snow-shoers and snowmobilers to tackle the hilly terrain. Visitors can camp and picnic along the shore of Lake Superior.
Mississippi: Tishomingo State Park
Mississippi may be known for peaceful, pastoral Delta land and Gulf of Mexico beaches, but just outside of Tupelo the geography turns rugged. Tishomingo State Park lies at the southern end of the Appalachian foothills, where rock walls and overhangs offer rock climbing opportunities ranging from 15 to 60 feet in height. Adventure seekers can scramble through boulder fields and view waterfalls along 13 hiking trails, or float and fish Bear Creek as it winds through the canyon. The park also offers tent camping, cabin rentals, a boat launch, canoe rentals and a swimming pool.
Missouri: Echo Bluff State Park
Located deep in the Ozarks, Echo Bluff State Park is situated in a scenic valley with towering bluffs and hillsides. The park’s namesake, Echo Bluff, is the largest sheer cliff on the property. Just below this geologic wonder is Sinking Creek, a crystal-clear stream that serves as the second-largest tributary to the Current River. The creek includes deep holes perfect for fishing, paddling and swimming. The park has a variety of hiking and mountain biking trails to suit any skill level. Accommodations offered at the park range from full-amenities suites at the mountain lodge to tent camping at the Tumbuktu campground.
Montana: Bannack State Park
There are not many places where you can cross-country ski in a ghost town, but at Bannack State Park you can leisurely make your way past 60 vacant structures that were once the thriving mining town of Bannack. The town was founded in 1862 when gold was discovered on a nearby creek. From the late 1860s to the 1930s, Bannack continued as a mining town with a fluctuating population. By the 1950s the gold workings had dwindled and most folks abandoned the town. At that point the State of Montana declared Bannack a state park. Today visitors can camp year-round at the park and enjoy hiking, biking, fishing and even go gold mining. In the winter months, enjoy skiing and ice skating.
Nebraska: Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area
Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area offers camping right next to the historic ranch house and barn that Col. William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody built during the heyday of his famous Wild West Show. Cody owned some 4,000 acres, which were appropriately named Scout’s Rest Ranch. Today, guests can enjoy the trails and scenery at the recreation area, as well as touring the historic buildings. Buffalo Bill Ranch State Recreation Area offers great fishing on the North Platte River. During the summer months, kayaks, canoes, tubes and tanks are available to rent. In addition, the park offers guided horseback rides and a petting zoo for the little ones.
Nevada: Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
Spooner Lake and Backcountry is part of Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, home to the Flume Trail, a favorite of mountain bikers. It’s a 14-mile, one-way trek with spectacular views of Lake Tahoe. There’s a shuttle service from one end of the trail to the other. Spooner has other trails for exploring by foot, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
New Hampshire: Mount Washington State Park
Mount Washington State Park is a 60-acre parcel perched on the summit of the Northeast's highest peak. It is surrounded by the extensive 750,000-acre White Mountain National Forest. If you’re on top of the 6,288-foot pinnacle on a clear day, you can see Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Quebec and the Atlantic Ocean. The very cool looking Sherman Adams building sits at the top of the mountain. This modern piece of architecture houses a visitor center, a cafeteria, gift shops, museum and the Mount Washington Observatory. The historic Tip-Top House is located adjacent to the summit building. If you plan on visiting the park, try to go in the warmer months; the summit building is closed from November to April. At that time, there are no public buildings open for hikers, no shelter, no food/water, no rides down the mountain. Mount Washington has been called the most dangerous small mountain in the world due to its extreme weather conditions and high winds. The hike to the summit is strenuous, even though the distance seems short, it is steep and the temperatures can drop quickly. Plan accordingly and know the weather. Check out organizations like the Appalachian Mountain Club for more info.
New Jersey: Barnegat Lighthouse State Park
Barnegat Lighthouse State Park sits at the northern tip of Long Beach Island. The 32-acre park is a hub for saltwater anglers; they have access to a large bulkhead where they can catch striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, summer flounder, tautog, winter flounder, and black sea bass. One of the last remnants of maritime forest on Long Beach Island is found at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park. And if the hikes aren’t tough enough for you, climb to the 217 steps to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy the gorgeous views of the Atlantic.
New Mexico: City of Rocks State Park
City of Rocks gets its name from the incredible volcanic rock formations that make up the park. At an elevation of 5,200 feet, the City of Rocks encompasses one square mile area in the scenic Chihuahuan desert region of southeastern part of the state. The "city" is a geologic formation made up of large, sculptured rock columns and pinnacles reaching as high as 40 feet and separated by paths or lanes resembling city streets. Hike, climb or mountain bike through the rock formations during the day, then at night stay at one of park’s campsites. In the evening, you can also enjoy dark night-sky stargazing at the park’s observatory.
New York: Letchworth State Park
Located in the northwest corner of the state, Letchworth State Park is also known as the "Grand Canyon of the East." A 17-mile stretch of the Genesee River roars through the park’s scenic gorge with three major waterfalls and cliffs as high as 600 feet. Through the lush forest, you’ll find miles of hiking, horseback riding and biking trails. The 7-mile gorge trail offers jaw-dropping views at the overlooks or you can take the trail to the river’s edge and see the river otters at play. In addition to white-water rafting, kayaking and hot-air ballooning, the park boasts several hundred campsites and cabins. Other amenities and activities include a pool, playground, athletic fields, festivals, cultural events, a performing arts programs, guided walks and more.
North Carolina: Jockeys Ridge State Park
Jockey’s Ridge State Park is located on the Outer Banks in the town of Nags Head. With the tallest natural dune on the East Coast as its centerpiece, Jockey’s Ridge State Park is home to the world’s largest hang-gliding school. With guidance from instructors, hang-gliders learn to soar on the winds that launched the Wright Brothers into history about five miles to the north. Jockey’s Ridge is also a choice place for sunset viewing, kite flying and kiteboarding. Sandboarding is permitted from October 31 to March 31.
North Dakota: Fort Stevenson State Park
Fort Stevenson State Park stretches out on the north shore of the giant Lake Sakakawea. Known as the walleye capital of North Dakota, the park is a favorite spot for sportsmen to experience the great fishing. Pontoon boats, kayaks and canoes can be rented at the park’s marina. In addition to water activities, Fort Stevenson offers over eight miles of non-motorized, multi-use trails for biking, hiking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The 549-arce park has rental cabins and over 160 campsites. The park’s arboretum contains over 50 native and non-native trees, shrubs, wildflowers and grasses.
Ohio: Lake Hope State Park
Located in the southeast part of the state, the 2,983-acre Lake Hope State Park is a natural paradise. The entire park lies within the 28,614-acre Zaleski State Forest in the valley of Big Sandy Run. It is a rugged, heavily forested region traversed by steep gorges and narrow ridges with remnants of abandoned mining and iron producing industries. The 120-acre lake is a fisherman’s paradise. Canoes, kayaks, rowboats and paddle boards are available for rent, and a 600-foot swimming beach is located near the dam. A 29-mile backpack trail with primitive campsites runs into the adjacent state forest. Lake Hope's 23-mile single-track bike trail was chosen as Ohio's top mountain bike trail by readers of "Mountain Bike Magazine." Its steep hills and ravines offer challenges suited to intermediate and advanced cyclists. Forty-five miles of bridle trail in the state forest are available for riders with their own mounts. Under the proper winter conditions, park guests can enjoy sledding, cross-country skiing, ice skating and ice fishing.
Oklahoma: Beaver Bend State Park
Located in Broken Bow, in the southeastern part of the state, Beavers Bend State Park has an abundance of activities making it one of the state’s most popular vacation spots. Guests can soar along the treetops and over Broken Bow Lake on a six different zip-line tours. For those who prefer to keep their feet on the ground, there are numerous hiking trails to explore. The Lower Mountain Fork River is beloved by fly fishermen and is a great spot for canoeing and kayaking. Overnight accommodations at Beavers Bend include cozy cabins, spacious campsites and modern lodge rooms. Guided trail rides and miniature train rides are among the activities at Beavers Bend Depot and Stables, and the pine-rimmed fairways make the park’s Cedar Creek Golf Course is a stunning place to hit the links. There’s also plenty to do outside the park, with a new brewery and plenty of delicious restaurants in the area.
Oregon: Samuel H. Boardman Scenic Corridor
Hike the 27 miles of Oregon Coast Trail that weave through the giant forests in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. The park’s namesake was the first Oregon Parks superintendent. He and others of his generation felt this shining coastline should be saved for the public. As you wander around this gorgeous park, take in the amazing sights such as the 300-year old sitka spruce trees, seaside prairies, secluded cove beaches, and rugged cliffs and terrain like Arch Rock and Natural Bridges.
Pennsylvania: Hyner View State Park
Featuring a gorgeous overlook of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, Hyner View State Park is Pennsylvania’s premier hang gliding launch. With views of the Susquehanna River Valley stretching off into the horizon, the gliding is breathtaking throughout the year. The park also serves as a great picnic spot for fliers and families alike to enjoy the overlook. When you’re done soaring, head over to the nearby Hyner Run State Park to stay the night at one of their cabins or campsites. A 50-mile trail system runs through the park offering moderate to rugged hikes for day-use or overnight backpacking.
Rhode Island: Fort Adams State Park
Situated at the mouth of the Newport Harbor, Fort Adams State Park offers an exceptional panoramic view of both Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. The park offers a wide range of activities including salt-water bathing, fishing, and instructions and rentals for sailing and windsurfing. Fort Adams is perhaps best known for its annual summer concerts when the Jazz Festival and the Folk Festival draw thousands to enjoy the music and beautiful surroundings.
South Carolina: Devils Fork State Park
South Dakota: Custer State Park
Custer State Park encompasses 71,000 acres and is home to a herd of 1,300 buffalo. The park is defined by towering pines, gentle flowing creeks and massive granite outcroppings. Black Elk Peak, at 7,242 feet, is the highest point east of the Rocky Mountains. Rock climbers come from all over the world to match their skills on some of the most impressive granite located in the "Needles" area of the park. Eleven scenic hiking trails wind through the Custer State Park, offering more than 50 miles of self-guided trails. This includes opportunities to hike through the endless prairie and forested mountains. There are four mountain lakes for fishing, paddle boarding, canoeing and swimming. Mountain bikers will also enjoy the trails. Winter months provide snowmobiling, cross country skiing, ice fishing and winter hikes. And don’t forget to see one of the most powerful icons of the American West — the bison.
Tennessee: Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park
The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail traverses the eastern edge of the Cumberland Mountains, from Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, at the Kentucky/Virginia border, to Signal Point, a Civil War site perched above Chattanooga. More than 210 miles of foot trails are open in the system, offering access to spectacular overlooks, dramatic waterfalls, crashing whitewater streams and steep gorges. Popular activities include day hiking, fishing, backpacking to remote campsites, picnicking, rock climbing, birding and wildflower observation. The Cumberland Trail directly manages more than 31,500 acres and intersects three National Park Service areas, three major wildlife management areas, and six state natural areas, totaling over 330,000 acres of public lands.
Texas: Palo Duro Canyon State Park
The second largest canyon in United States lies in the heart of the Texas panhandle, just south of Amarillo. Palo Duro Canyon State Park opened in 1934 and at 28,000 acres is the second largest state park in Texas. Explore the canyon by foot, mountain bike, horse or car. The park has more than 30 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails, of which 1,500 acres are set aside for horseback riding. Accommodations include campsites with water and electricity, primitive drive-up sites, equestrian sites, backpack camping areas or stay in one of the fully-equipped cabins on the canyon’s rim or canyon floor.
Utah: Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park is home to canyons, caves and hundreds of hoodoos. Adventurers will enjoy canyoneering throughout the park, especially rappelling into the Devil's Lair, a 90-foot free rappel into a cave. The biking trail is comprised of five loops, all with incredible sweeping vistas. The Valley of Goblins spans nearly three square miles and is a free-roaming area that can be explored by foot. Third-party outfitters offer a wide range of wilderness trips and courses for adventurers of all ages and skill levels including scrambling, canyoneering and snowshoe classes. The campground at Goblin Valley State Park consists of 25 sites and two yurts.
Vermont: Smugglers’ Notch State Park
Named after an infamous route used to smuggle illegal goods across the US-Canada border, Smugglers Notch State Park has an adventurous past and present. Located at the base of Mount Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, the park is part of the much larger Mt. Mansfield State Forest. The Long Trail, a trail that runs the length of Vermont is located within the park, making Smugglers’ Notch popular with both day and through hikers. The summit provides unparalleled view of Lake Champlain and the surrounding Green and Adirondack mountains. The park is popular for rock climbing and bouldering in the summer and ice climbing in the winter. This mountain park is also a favorite for challenging back-country skiing and cross country skiing. At the end of the day, you can enjoy a hot shower and quiet campsite at Smugglers Notch State Park.
Virginia: Grayson Highlands State Park
Grayson Highlands State Park is in southwest part of the state adjoining the Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. The park and surrounding area offer miles of scenic hiking through its alpine-like peaks; The Appalachian Trail even runs right through the park. Mount Rogers is the highest peak in Virginia, so it offers some of the best bouldering spots around. As you reach further up the mountain, the boulders are above tree line, making for some amazing 360-degree views. The most famous inhabitants of Grayson Highlands are the wild ponies that roam the ridges and mountain tops. When you’re all tuckered out from a day of hiking and climbing, crash at one of the park’s cabins or campsites.
Washington: Deception Pass State Park
Deception Pass State Park spreads over 4,134 acres, a marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline and 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. This park connects Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands and holds the title of most visited park in Washington state. Deception's beaches represent the best of wild, untouched nature. Try whitewater kayaking, sailboarding or fishing along the park’s vast shorelines. Explore the rugged cliffs and coves by foot or mountain bike. The Canoe Pass and Deception Pass bridges connect the two islands and provide jaw-dropping views. No need to go home at the end of the day, there are hundreds of campsites within the park plus cabins and yurts to rent.
West Virginia: Seneca State Forest
One of West Virginia’s oldest state forests, Seneca State Forest borders the stunning Greenbrier River. It’s terrain and scenic beauty make it one of the best areas for adventure and exploration in the state. The park offers 23 miles of challenging hiking trails and 40 miles of forest trails and roadways, perfect for the ultimate mountain biking experience. The forest’s secret gem, though, is the Thorny Mountain Fire Tower, which offers the perfect escape for adventure seekers. You can rent the tower overnight and get a unique star-filled, grown-up tree house experience. The 14-by-14-foot space contains living and sleeping quarters for two.
Wisconsin: Devil's Lake State Park
Devil’s Lake State Park is Wisconsin’s largest state park offering magnificent views from the 500-foot quartzite bluffs overlooking a 360-acre lake. Located on the 1,000-mile National Ice Age Trail, the park is part of the 1.6 billion years old Baraboo Range. Magnificent geological formations, including Devil’s Doorway and Balanced Rock are popular with rock climbers, backpackers and hikers. Rowboats, paddleboats, kayaks and canoes are available for rental during the summer months.
Wyoming: Curt Gowdy State Park
Located smack-dab in between Cheyenne and Laramie, Curt Gowdy State Park has more than 35 miles of trails for hiking, biking and horseback riding. For cyclists, the trails vary in difficulty level and feature four mountain bike play areas and mountain bike skills areas. The park also boasts a two-mile, 28-target archery field course that was developed by the Cheyenne Field Archers back in the 1960s. There are three reservoirs within the park — Granite, Crystal and North Crow — only the latter does not allow motorized boats. Tent camping and RV camping are both available or if you’ve got a big group, you can all chip in and rent the historic Hynds Lodge.