Skip to Content

Prettiest State Parks in the US

Valley of Fire prettiest State Park, US
Valley of Fire State Park, United States

Did you know that over 6 million acres of land in the United States are protected as part of the National Park Service? Here you can find out more about the prettiest state parks in the U.S.

We don’t need to travel far to find beautiful places – some of the most extraordinary places on earth can be found in the United States! Whether you want a nice quiet place to camp or a lovely spot to lay back, relax, and read a book, you will surely find the perfect place at one of the prettiest state parks in the U.S.

Introduction

The U.S. has an amazing state park system, each with its unique natural, scenic, and historical assets. As we all know, the best place to enjoy nature and the peace of our nation is in a state park.

Monument Valley, one of the prettiest state parks in the US
Monument Valley, United States. Image by Ganapathy Kumar via Unsplash

State parks are a great way to get away from the city and enjoy the great outdoors. To find the most beautiful parks in the country, we compared all 50 states across 25 key metrics. Their data set ranges from park area size to several playgrounds per million residents, to park entry fees.

Keeping the iconic beauty of the parks constant, this article will also give you detailed perspectives of the prettiest state parks including the quality of the water, the length of the trails, and the number of campsites available.

What Makes a Park a State Park?

A state park is a park designated and maintained by a state government. State parks are typically open to the public and offer a variety of recreational opportunities such as hiking, camping, swimming, and boating.

Badlands in South Dakota, prettiest state parks in the US
Badlands in South Dakota. Image via Pixabay

Some state parks offer educational programs and amenities like visitor centers, museums, and picnic areas.

#1 Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park, United States
Yellowstone National Park, United States. Image by Meina Yin via Unsplash

It is one of the USA’s most iconic and popular parks. Spanning across Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho, it is home to various landscapes and wildlife

From the geothermal features like hot springs and geysers to the majestic mountains and forests, there is something for everyone at Yellowstone.

#2 Bear Lake State Park, Utah/Idaho

Encounter moose at Bear Lake National Park
Encounter moose at Bear Lake National Park. Image by Lesly Derksen via Unsplash

Bear Lake State Park is a state park in the western United States, located in southeastern Idaho and northeastern Utah. The park is approximately 27 miles (43 km) long and 20 miles (32 km) wide. Bear Lake is a natural freshwater lake and one of the United States’ largest lakes.

It is home to various wildlife, including bears, moose, deer, elk, and bighorn sheep. Several birds, such as eagles, hawks, and owls, make their home in the park, so this is a favorite for bird enthusiasts! It is a famous destination for fishing, hiking, camping, and boating.

#3 Letchworth State Park, New York

Letchworth State Park, New York
Letchworth State Park, New York. Image by Hybrid Storytellers via Unsplash

Letchworth State Park is a 14,427-acre state park located in Wyoming and Livingston counties in New York. It is named after the famous William Pryor Letchworth, who was instrumental in its creation.

Letchworth State Park is a beautiful, naturalistic state park in New York. This park is known for its magnificent waterfalls, some of the tallest and most impressive in the state.

In addition, it also features hiking trails, a scenic gorge, and a variety of wildlife. The park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors and appreciate the beauty of nature. 

#4 Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park, South Dakota
Custer State Park, South Dakota. Image by Tommy Bond via Unsplash

Custer State Park is a state park in South Dakota, United States. The park is named after Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, who was killed in the Battle of the Little Bighorn. 

The park is located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. Custer State Park is the largest state park in South Dakota and one of the largest state parks in the United States. 

The park covers an area of 71,000 acres (290 km2) and is home to various wildlife, including bison, elk, deer, pronghorn, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and more. The park also has many scenic attractions, such as the Needles Highway, the Iron Mountain Road, and the Wildlife Loop Road.

#5 Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas. Image by Michael Dziedzic via Unsplash

This is a state park in the U.S. state of Texas located in the Panhandle Plains region of the state. The park is approximately 30 miles (48 km) long and 20 miles (32 km) wide, making it the second-largest Canyon in the United States after the Grand Canyon. 

Palo Duro Canyon was carved by the Prairie Dog Town Fork of the Red River. It has deer, bighorn sheep, and prairie dogs. The Canyon is beautiful, with red cliffs and a river running through it. Visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, and fishing activities at Palo Duro Canyon.

#6 Acadia National Park, Maine

Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park, Maine. Image by Clay Banks via Unsplash

Acadia National Park, located in Maine, is one of the prettiest state parks in the U.S. The park covers an area of 49,052 acres and is known for its beautiful scenery and diverse wildlife. 

Acadia National Park is home to various animals, including moose, deer, bears, and coyotes. The park also has a variety of birds, including eagles, hawks, and crows. You can hike, camp, and enjoy the outdoors. 

It is located on the coast of Maine and is known for its stunning cliffside views, oceanfront hiking trails, and quaint towns. Acadia is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors and relax by the sea.

#7 Zion National Park, Utah

Zion National Park, Utah
Zion National Park, Utah. Image by Dave Herring via Unsplash

The park is located in southwestern Utah and is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the country. Features include a variety of landscapes, such as canyons, rivers, cliffs, and mountains. Visitors can explore the park by hiking, biking, or horseback riding. 

Many ranger-led programs offer a variety of ways to experience the park. It is a paradise for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its towering red cliffs, slot canyons, and rivers, Zion is a truly unique place. There are plenty of trails to explore, and the views are breathtaking.

#8 The Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon, Arizona
This could be you looking out over The Grand Canyon! Image by Sam Loyd via Unsplash

The Grand Canyon is an awe-inspiring place on Earth. It is a truly grand sight at nearly two miles deep and over 18 miles wide. 

This massive Canyon is truly a sight to behold, and there are plenty of ways to explore it. Whether you hike to the bottom, take a mule ride, or enjoy the views from the rim, the Grand Canyon is an unforgettable experience.

There’s a reason that the Grand Canyon is a famous tourist destination in the USA: no matter how you experience the Grand Canyon –  it will leave a lasting impression!

#9 Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Image by Quinn Nietfeld via Unsplash

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. It is located in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the park is home to majestic mountains, rushing rivers, and abundant wildlife.

Rocky Mountain National Park is a place of unparalleled beauty and wonder and a must-see for anyone visiting Colorado who enjoys hiking, camping, fishing, and wildlife watching. There are also many opportunities to learn about the park’s history and natural wonders. 

With its towering mountains, pristine lakes, and abundant wildlife, Rocky Mountain is a true wilderness experience. There are a lot of trails to explore, and the views are breathtaking.

1. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite National Park, California
Did you know it is pronounced “yow·seh·muh·tee”? Image by Andrew Peluso via Unsplash

Yosemite National Park is a very popular tourist destination in the United States. Its best part is its waterfalls, which include Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in North America.

Other attractions in the park include the Half Dome, a popular granite dome hiking destination, and the El Capitan, a granite cliff popular with rock climbers.

It is known for its waterfalls, granite cliffs, giant sequoia trees, and more. Visitors can go hiking, camping, and rock climbing in the park.

2. Glacier National Park, Montana

Mom bear and cub
See bears in prettiest US state parks Zion state park. Image by Ben Owen via Unsplash

The Glacier National Park is the most beautiful place on Earth. It is located in the Rocky Mountains of Montana and is home to some of the most stunning scenery in the world. 

Here you will find glaciers, alpine meadows, forests, and waterfalls. The park is also home to various wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves, and mountain lions. No wonder it is a popular destination for hikers, climbers, and nature lovers.

Here you can find the Best Places to See Bears.

3. Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park, Washington
Olympic National Park, Washington – a hiker’s dream! Image by Reed Geiger via Unsplash

The Olympic National Park is stunningly beautiful, with towering mountains, pristine forests, and beaches. It’s no wonder it’s one of the most popular national parks in the United States.

Olympic National Park is a large park that includes several different ecosystems. This park is famous for its beaches, rainforests, and mountains. The park’s wildlife includes bears, deer, elk, and eagles. There are also several different plant species, even some rare and endangered ones. 

Visitors can take part in numerous activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and kayaking. There’s something for everyone to enjoy in Olympic National Park.

Things to Do and See in State Parks

Old Faithful Geyser, United States
Old Faithful Geyser, Yellowstone National Park. Image by Emily Campbell via Unsplash

There are the basics, you can go hiking and explore all the natural beauty the park offers. Or are you adventurous? Then you can go camping and spend a night or two under the stars.

Other options include fishing, canoeing, or kayaking in many state parks. And of course, don’t forget to take plenty of pictures to capture all the memories! These parks are a photographer’s heaven.

There are many things in state parks! Here are just a few ideas of what you can see and do when visiting state parks:

Take a Hike

People usually spot some wildlife along the way when hiking. It is a great way to see some of the local wildlife in their natural habitat and also to get some exercise at the same time.

What better way to experience the prettiest state parks in the US than hiking?
What better way to experience the prettiest state parks in the US than hiking? Image by Toomas Tartes via Unsplash

Just remember to follow the trail markings and stay on the trail so as not to disturb the wildlife or damage the natural environment. 

Go Fishing

Most state parks have lakes or ponds where you can try your hand at fishing. This way you can enjoy and relax outdoors, and you may even catch a delicious meal!

Fishermen sports fishing and catching a salmon
Fishermen sports fishing. Image via Depositphotos

Before fishing, check the local regulations to ensure you follow the rules. Then, once you have your gear, find a spot near the shore where the water is calm. 

Use bait that fish in the area are known to eat, and be patient – it may take a while to get a bite. But when you feel that tug on the line, it will all be worth it.

Have a Picnic

There’s nothing quite like a picnic in nature. Picnics are a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with family and friends. Spread out a blanket, enjoy a leisurely meal and take in the beauty of your surroundings. It’s the perfect way to relax and recharge. 

picnic
The perfect way to relax with your partner or family. Image by Mathilde Langevin via Unsplash

So next time, if any of you feel tense or stressed out, grab a blanket and some food and head outdoors for a picnic.

Go Birdwatching

If you are a nature person, there’s nothing quite like a stroll through the park on a sunny day, taking in the fresh air and enjoying the beauty of nature. 

And what could make that stroll even more enjoyable than spotting different types of birds along the way? Whether you’re a seasoned birdwatcher or just getting started, seeing how many kinds of birds you can spot in the park is a great way to add extra fun to your day. 

Birdwatching
These US state parks are a birdwatcher’s paradise! Image by Dieny Portinanni via Unsplash

So next time you’re headed to the park, keep your eyes peeled for some feathered friends. You’ll be amazed at how many different types of birds you can find!

Find out more about Interesting Birds Around the World here.

Conclusion

Detail of condor with funny expression in Zion national park, Utah, USA. Image via Depositphotos

Thanks for reading! Have you checked out our forum yet? Join the conversation here!

Join our Forum for free today!

Animal Forum
Click Here
Latest posts by Dona Van Eeden (see all)
Grizzly Bear Spotted Feet From Alaskan Campsite Top 10 States With The Most Cougar Top 10 States With The Most Moose Top 10 States With The Most Coyote Top 10 States With The Most Elk