10 State Parks That Are Screaming “Road Trip”


Cy Wood

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National parks get a lot of love in the United States. They also get a lot of crowds and a lot of expensive entry fees. State parks, on the other hand, offer a glimpse into a state’s own, personal views of beauty and nature. Here are ten that you should put on your list as you’re planning your next getaway.

Lime Kiln Point State Park, Washington

lime kiln point state park

In the upper, can’t-really-get-much-farther-northwest corner of Washington State, there sit the San Juan Islands. They’re known as a great vacation spot for the beauty that comes with the Pacific Northwest. Lime Kiln Point State Park, a daytime-use park, is a favorite spot among travelers to catch a view of Orcas, Gray Whales, sea lions, porpoises, and other sea life. Best of all, ferries can take your RV (with size restrictions, obviously) across the water to the island.

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Adirondack Park, New York

adirondack park new york

Perhaps more forest preserve than state park, Adirondack Park is unique in that a bulk of the land is privately held—albeit strictly controlled by the Adirondack Park Agency. That said, the park contains multiple towns and villages. It’s particularly well known for its stunning views of the Adirondack Mountains, especially in the fall. Plus, there’s a significant chance you catch sight of a moose, black bear, or a number of other critters that call the area home.

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Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

fall creek falls state park tennessee

Some state parks do get their share of love, and one of those is Fall Creek Falls State Park. In the heart of Tennessee, it’s got a total of six waterfalls across its 26,000 acres, including one that’s so spectacular (it drops 256 feet) they named the park after it. This park is somewhat of a resort, and also offers golfing, a pool, and tennis courts, in addition to amazing hiking and fishing. Plus, you can go for a nice, cool dip in some of the many swimming holes.

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Itasca State Park, Minnesota

itasca state park

Ever wish you could walk across the Mississippi River? Crazy though it seems, it’s possible. You just have to go up north to Itasca State Park in Minnesota, where shallow water begins its journey down to the Gulf of Mexico. Itasca is the country’s second-oldest state park and draws thousands of visitors every year to wade roughly 30 feet across the headwaters. After you’ve done that, you can hike or ride a bike through the rest of the 32,000-acre park.

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Gulf State Park, Alabama

gulf state park alabama

Though Gulf Shores may be better known as a hot spring break location, it’s also home to Gulf State Park. This little strip of land doesn’t get run over by the college kids. Instead, it’s a beautiful, two-mile run of white sand beach that’s perfect for people who’d rather use nature to get away from other people. That said, there’s still a golf course, plus a large pier where some locals spend the day fishing.

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Eldorado Canyon State Park, Colorado

eldorado canyon state park colorado

No list of parks would be complete without one from Colorado. Located not far from Boulder, Eldorado Canyon State Park is a rock climber’s dream with over 1,000 technical courses. Not a climber? Not to worry: there are 11 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, plus streams and creeks for fishing. If nothing else, stop by for a while just to take in the amazing scenery.

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Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

smith rock state park oregon

Another rock climbing destination, Smith Rock State Park in Oregon also features plenty of easy hiking—or more aggressive hiking, if you’re into that. This park is full of amazing scenery, and massive, jagged mountain formations and outcroppings that will catch your eye again and again. Lush greenery and even a few streams make this place one of the most picturesque on this list. And when you factor in the high odds of seeing a few river otters playing, then you know exactly why you need to get there now.

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Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, California

julia pfeiffer burns state park california big sur

The beaches in California, let alone in Big Sur, hardly need an introduction. But Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park isn’t just a beach. There’s scuba diving. There are 300-ft. redwoods. And there’s McWay Falls, an 80-ft. waterfall that flows directly into the ocean. The land was originally leased by the daughter of one of the first settlers of Big Sur, and it’s she who the park is named. There are still two homes on the property that can be hiked to via two hefty trails.

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Ludington State Park, Michigan

ludingston state park michigan lighthouse

The big coasts aren’t the only places with amazing beaches. Michigan, with its great lakes, also has a fair share of beaches. Ludington State Park, northwest of Grand Rapids, is home to an amazing beach—but also a total of 5,300 acres that also sees dunes, wetlands, marshes, and the Big Sable Point Lighthouse. There are a total of 21 miles worth of hiking trails, and canoeing and kayaking are both quite popular as well.

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Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada

valley of fire state park nevada rock formations

An hour away from the glitz and glamor of Vegas, you’ll find some eye-catching scenery of a different kind. In the middle of the Mojave Desert sits the Valley of Fire State Park. The park is a whopping 40,000 acres, and is most well-known for its Aztec sandstone outcrops. Plus, find petrified trees and ancient rock carvings, and you’ll be happy you escaped the rat race of the strip.

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Ready to see the best of what states have to offer? Then hit the road. You can find a Camping World nearby, wherever you are, to help you find the RV that will take you everywhere.

  • Comment (22)
  • Martin Corbett says:

    How could they leave out Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison CT

  • Sue Maley says:

    You can’t go wrong with SC State Parks. They are well maintained, especially the ones off Hwy 11. The scenery is beautiful all year round: waterfalls, rivers, and lakes. Edisto Beach and Hunting Island are awesome.

  • Kim Walker says:

    Fort Robinson is a former U.S. Army fort and now a major feature of Fort Robinson State Park, a 22,000+ acre public recreation and historic preservation area, located 2 miles west of Crawford, Nebraska on U.S. 20 in the Pine Ridge region of northwest Nebraska.

    Fort Robinson is rich with history, from the Indian Wars to WW II.

    There are hiking trails, horse trails, Jeep rides, a swimming pool, tubing, camping, cabins, a museum, a restaurant, a playhouse and so much more!

    Go to http://outdoornebraska.gov/fortrobinson/ for more information.

  • Jim says:

    Information needed -A lot of these parks have max length, max stay, what type hook ups, easy to navigate etc

  • David Caruthers says:

    Fall Creek Falls is just one of the many state parks in that part of Tennessee that have spectacular waterfalls. TN runs several waterfall tours based out of one state park or its neighbor, look them up they are worth the cost. I also nominate Harriman R.R. State Park in Idaho as a good park for beautiful views and enjoyable hiking. The entire Island Park area of Idaho is a wonderful destination.

  • Cam says:

    It would be nice if available camping arrangements were mentioned for each place.
    … and you left out Custer State Pk. in South Dakota which is AMAZING and can handle all sorts of camping from boondocking to full hookups. If you’re gonna see Rushmore…ya gotta stop at Custer.

  • bill says:

    Ludington SP is a beautiful park but has the tightest, busiest, jammed campground I’ve ever experienced.

  • Gerald Long says:

    You left out Letchworth State Park In Western New York voted the #1 State Park in the Country in 2015.

  • MICHAEL P. GLEASON, SMSgt (Ret) USAF says:

    The farthest Northeast these go is New York – what is New England, “chopped liver”? Maine’s Camden Hills State Park on U.S. 1 is right on the ocean and just a few miles from what is reputed to be “the most-heavily photographed harbor in the U.S.”! As for your closing comment, “You can find a Camping World nearby, wherever you are”, they’re nowhere in the State of Maine!

  • Gwyned Hill says:

    Petit Jean State Park just a short drive south of Morrilton, ar in central Arkansas is a fantastic state park with hiking, boating, swimming, dining, camping, waterfalls and spectacular views…come see us!!

  • Carolyn Simmons says:

    Many state parks are just as magnificent as our national parks!

  • Judy Richardson says:

    Missing Grayson Highlands state park in Virginia on the side of our highest mountain, Mount Rogers. Beautiful!

  • Odeh S. says:

    I am very glad you are encouraging people to get outdoors and experience what we have in our own backyards. I purchased my first camper from you and took it out over 125 times. All fun and great time with family and friends.

  • Anonymous says:

    How about Arizona

  • Bernie says:

    Very nice information knew of year to the market looking forward to traveling

  • Iris Eng says:

    I absolutely LOVE Lima Mountain! Make sure you don’t miss it while you are RV’ing. What a spectacular site and such a feeling…..to be able to go skiing in the morning and then go back down and go swimming in the afternoon/evening or visa versa! So many GREAT places to go in AZ!

  • Wade Thiel says:

    Thanks for the recommendation, Kim. Sounds like a perfect spot to stop!

  • Anonymous says:

    Lucky Maine!!!

  • Judith Railey says:

    Too late we found Petit Jean on our way West in 2016!! We Georgians loved it!

  • Betty Spotts says:

    Understand that, too many can spoil an otherwise beautiful and abundant area. My in-laws operated the camp on Petit Jean in the 90’s and we enjoyed many great fishing and camping trips on the mountain and in the area. Met many wonderful people while there also.

  • Larry Walters says:

    Ssshhh…… I don’t like to tell folks about Petit Jean

  • Steven Petarra says:

    Grayson Highlands rocks!

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