The Best State Parks in the U.S. You Should Visit This Summer

The best state parks in the U.S. you should visit this summer

With so many great state parks from coast to coast, you can find some truly amazing views right here in the U.S. If you’re looking for some vacation ideas for the summer that will help you reconnect with Mother Nature, consider the state parks below. 

Shell on the beach in Cayo Costa State Park, Florida

Cayo Costa State Park

Cayo Costa State Park is located on an island on Florida’s west coast and is considered to be one of the best state parks in Florida. It’s only accessible by helicopter, private boat or ferry and once you’re there, you can pitch a tent or sleep in a rustic cabin.

Cayo Costa is revered because it has eight miles of undeveloped beaches and almost six miles of trails that go through the 13 unique ecosystems on the island. Visitors can enjoy both fishing and shelling on the island, as the waters of Cayo Costa are home to pompano, redfish, snook and tarpon.

Rent a bike, paddleboard or kayak, or simply go for a leisurely stroll on one of Florida’s most untouched landscapes. The park’s ‘Manatee Hole’ is a small lagoon where manatees can be seen year round. 

Tallulah Gorge State Park

Tallulah Gorge State Park is easily one of the best Georgia state parks. At 1,000 feet deep and two miles long, the Tallulah Gorge is a rare find on the East Coast. There is 20 miles of terrain for visitors to explore throughout the park. Trails meander both sides of the gorge and there are paved railroad beds for those looking for a more leisurely path to walk. 

If you’re not afraid of heights, a suspension bridge hangs 80 feet above the bottom of the gorge, providing breathtaking views of the canyon at its absolute finest. There is a 63-acre lake in the center of the park where visitors can go boating, fishing and swimming. If you have a permit, you can also go rock climbing in the park or hike down to the gorge’s floor.

Lighthouse Rock at Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Topping our list for the best state parks in Texas is Palo Duro Canyon State Park. Located in northern Texas, it is home to the second-largest canyon in the United States at 120 miles long and 1,000 feet deep in many parts. Palo Duro has a long history with Native Americans, as it was home to the Plains Indians and was a major battleground during the Red River War. 

The park is a great place for geocaching, bird watching, hiking, biking and horseback riding. Music enthusiasts should also look at the events calendar since the park frequently hosts live music throughout the year. 

Take plenty of water for your visit, especially if you’re going during summer, as temperatures at the bottom of the canyon can reach 120º F. 

Eldorado Canyon State Park

Eldorado Canyon State Park is located just a short drive from Denver and Boulder, Colorado. If you’re a climber, you may find Eldorado to be one of the best state parks in Colorado thanks to its more than 1,000 technical outdoor climbing routes.

If climbing isn’t your speed, you can also hike or bike more than 11 miles worth of trails. The top-ranked trail at the park, according to AllTrails, is Eldorado Canyon Trail, a 6.6-mile out-and-back path. It’s a moderate hike, but offers some of the most beautiful views of both the canyon and the Rocky Mountains. 

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, California

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park

Want to see some redwood trees? How about an 80-foot waterfall that flows directly into the Pacific Ocean? For these features and more, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is easily one of the best state parks in California. Here you can wander through a variety of tree types including redwood, tan oak and chaparral while also having access to advanced scuba diving in the park’s underwater area. 

It’s not the easiest park to navigate, with multiple trails and 3,000-foot ridges on the coastline, but that can be a good thing for people who love to be immersed in nature: You’ll feel like you got dropped down onto an area completely untouched by humans.

Baxter State Park

Travelers looking to escape the heat and find one of the best state parks in New England should consider Maine’s Baxter State Park. Located in northern Maine, the park is a jaw-dropping 200,000 acres and home to waterfalls, lakes, lush forests, Maine’s tallest mountain (Mount Katahdin) and plenty of wildlife including bears, deer, foxes, hawks and eagles. It’s great for hiking, fishing, climbing or any outdoor activities you can think of. If you visit, keep in mind that there isn’t any running water or electricity in the park, so be prepared to go without these amenities. 

Avail can get you there

If you’re traveling to a state park, you’re going to need to rent a reliable car. At Avail car sharing, your reservation is always guaranteed and our low daily rates include insurance coverage and 24/7 roadside assistance so you can hit the road stress-free.