When it comes to planning a trip to a natural paradise, almost everyone gravitates towards National Parks. We understand why. Places like Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, Badlands in South Dakota, Grand Canyon in Arizona or Yosemite in California are gorgeous. Few places can match the beauty of a place like North Cascades National Park in Washington. Unfortunately, many State Parks get lost in the shadow of the National Parks. Which is a real shame because many State Parks offer their own unique natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Sometimes they can even offer a little more than than the National Parks.
You'll often find plenty more chances for mountain biking, rafting and kayaking at a State Park. Often without having to go through the trouble of obtaining or waiting on special permits for the best areas. Most have miles of trails for hikers and plenty of campsites to sleep under a spectacular night sky.
The blog SavingSpot scoured the Internet to come up with a map showing the 50 most underrated of these parks in the U.S. Check it out. You might want to put some of these spots on your bucket list, or set the nearest one aside for a fun fall trip. These are some of the best hidden gems in North America!
Here is the entire list for easy reading:
- Alabama: DeSoto State Park
- Alaska: Kachemak Bay State Park
- Arizona: Buckskin Mountain State Park
- Arkansas: Lake Ouachita State Park
- California: Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park
- Colorado: Mueller State Park
- Connecticut: Hammonasset Beach State Park
- Delaware: Trap Pond State Park
- Florida: Mike Roess Gold Head Branch State Park
- Georgia: Providence Canyon State Park
- Hawaii: K?ke?e State Park
- Idaho: Farragut State Park
- Illinois: Pere Marquette State Park
- Indiana: Shades State Park
- Iowa: Maquoketa Caves State Park
- Kansas: Kanopolis Lake State Park
- Kentucky: Levi Jackson Wilderness Road State Park
- Louisiana: Chicot State Park
- Maine: Camden Hills State Park
- Maryland: New Germany State Park
- Massachusetts: Nickerson State Park
- Michigan: Ludington State Park
- Minnesota: Frontenac State Park
- Mississippi: Paul B Johnson State Park
- Missouri: Johnson's Shut-Ins State Park
- Montana: Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park
- Nebraska: Platte River State Park
- Nevada: Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
- New Hampshire: Pawtuckaway State Park
- New Jersey: Wawayanda State Park
- New Mexico: City of Rocks State Park
- New York: Verona Beach State Park
- North Carolina: Lake James State Park
- North Dakota: Icelandic State Park
- Ohio: John Bryan State Park
- Oklahoma: Beavers Bend State Park
- Oregon: Oswald West State Park
- Pennsylvania: Caledonia State Park
- Rhode Island: Fishermen's Memorial State Park and Campground
- South Carolina: Edisto Beach State Park
- South Dakota: Palisades State Park
- Tennessee: Henry Horton State Park
- Texas: Davis Mountains State Park
- Utah: Goblin Valley State Park
- Vermont: Smugglers Notch State Park
- Virginia: Grayson Highlands State Park
- Washington: Moran State Park
- West Virginia: Babcock State Park
- Wisconsin: Kohler-Andrae State Park
SavingSpot teamed with NeoMam Studios to create this graphic. To determine the list of parks, they scoured Google Maps and TripAdvisor reviews of America's state parks. More specifically, they looked for parks that had a rating of 4 or higher over less than 1,000 reviews.
That was how they found places like Kachemak Bay State Park in Alaska, which has less than 100 reviews total on Google and only 154 on TripAdvisor.
It also allowed them to find hidden gems near other popular tourist destinations. For instance, they identified Mueller State Park in Colorado. It's easy to see how it gets overlooked due to a proximity to Pikes Peak and Rocky Mountain National Park.
They also looked at opportunities for recreation like availability of hiking trails for backcountry backpacking. Also the chances for activities like snowshoeing, snorkeling, stargazing and more. The scenic and wild nature of these parks was also factored in.
You're sure to see some cool rock formations, rugged coasts, beautiful wildflowers and a plethora of wildlife in many of these.
We have heard of some of these parks. I'm from Michigan, so I'm familiar with Ludington State Park. However, we're intrigued to learn about some new ones like Goblin Valley in Utah, Davis Mountains in Texas, Edisto Beach in South Carolina, Spring Mountain Ranch in Nevada, and Mike Roess Gold head Branch in Florida.
We'll be adding those to our to-do list for the very near future!
SavingSpot and NeoMam Studios also created original artwork for each of the 50 featured parks. You can see more at their website.
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