The Best of the Best State Parks

This is a feature that I am very excited to display on my web site. I have written three editions of a book entitled Parks Directory of the United States, which has included descriptive information on national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and more than 3,300 state parks, historic sites, and natural areas. In compiling information for the book, I have come to realize that there are a number of state parks that rival the more famous national parks in terms of beauty, cultural and historical significance, and natural resources, though many of these parks are not well known to the general public.

I always had in the back of my mind the idea of compiling a list of the "best" state parks in the United States. Of course, I always knew that such a list would be extremely subjective, since the best parks to a bird-watcher wouldn't be the best parks to a cross-country skier or an off-road biker. Nevertheless, I went forward with my idea and contacted the directors of each of the 50 state park systems and posed the following question:

If you were trying to showcase your state park system, what would be your recommendation to visitors for 2-3 must see" parks and why?

In their replies, many of the directors pointed out how difficult the task had been to select only 2-3 state parks for this project when they had dozens or even hundreds to choose from. Some stretched the rules a little bit and listed 4-5 parks. (I decided to leave these extra selections in.) In many cases, the selections include accompanying text information, which can be viewed by clicking on the "what they said" link that appears just below each state name.

Each state name is hyperlinked to the official home page for each state park system. Wherever possible, I have also provided direct links to each individual park and have included phone numbers as well.

In a feature that is certainly open to debate, here is a list of the "Best of the Best State Parks." 

The "Best of the Best" State Parks:

Alabama
DeSoto SP - Phone: 256-845-0051
Joe Wheeler SP - Phone: 256-247-5466
Lake Guntersville SP - Phone: 256-571-5444

Alaska
Chugach SP - Phone: 907-345-5014
Denali SP - Phone: 907-745-3975
Totem Bight SHP - Phone: 907-465-4563
Wood-Tikchik SP - Phone: 907-269-8698

Arizona
what they said
Kartchner Caverns SP - Phone: 520-586-2283
Red Rock SP - Phone: 520-282-6907
Tonto Natural Bridge SP - Phone: 520-476-4202

Arkansas
what they said
Crater of Diamonds SP - Phone: 870-285-3113
Ozark Folk Center SP - Phone: 870-269-3851
Petit Jean SP - Phone: 501-727-5441

California
what they said
Anza-Borrego Desert SP - Phone: 760-767-5311
Big Basin Redwoods SP - Phone: 831-338-8860
Hearst Castle - Phone: 800-444-4445
Huntington SB - Phone: 714-536-1454
Prairie Creek Redwoods SP - Phone: 707-464-6101

Colorado
what they said
Mueller SP - Phone: 719-687-2366
Roxborough SP - Phone: 303-973-3959
Steamboat Lake SP - Phone: 970-879-3922
Sylvan Lake SP - Phone: 970-625-1607

Connecticut what they said
Dinosaur SP - Phone: 860-529-5816
Gillette Castle SP - Phone: 860-526-2336
Hammonasset Beach SP - Phone: 203-245-2785

Delaware
what they said
Cape Henlopen SP - Phone: 302-645-8983
Fort Delaware SP - Phone: 302-834-7941
Trap Pond SP - Phone: 302-875-5153

Florida
what they said
John Pennekamp Coral Reef SP - Phone: 305-451-1202
Myakka River SP - Phone: 941-361-6511
Paynes Prairie SP - Phone: 352-466-3397
St. Joseph Peninsula SP - Phone: 850-227-1327
Wekiwa Springs SP - Phone: 407-884-2008

Georgia
what they said
Cloudland Canyon SP - Phone: 706-657-4050
Providence Canyon SP - Phone: 912-838-6202
Tallulah Gorge SP - Phone: 706-754-7970

Hawaii
Koke'e SP & Waimea Canyon SP - Phone: 808-587-0300
Iao Valley SP - Phone: 808-587-0300
Diamond Head SM - Phone: 808-587-0300

Idaho
Bruneau Dunes SP - Phone: 208-366-7919
Ponderosa SP - Phone: 208-634-2164
Priest Lake SP - Phone: 208-443-2200

Illinois
what they said
Cache River SNA[/link] - Phone: 618-634-9678
Chain O'Lakes SP[/link] - Phone: 847-587-5512
Pere Marquette SP[/link] - Phone: 618-786-3323

Indiana
what they said
Brown County SP - Phone: 812-988-6406
Falls of the Ohio SP - Phone: 812-280-9970
Indiana Dunes SP - Phone: 219-926-1952

Iowa
what they said
Backbone SP - Phone: 319-924-2527
Ledges SP - Phone: 515-432-1852
Waubonsie SP - Phone: 712-382-2786

Kansas
what they said
Cheney SP - Phone: 316-542-3664
Scott SP - Phone: 316-872-2061
Tuttle Creek SP - Phone: 785-539-7941

Kentucky
what they said
John James Audubon SP - Phone: 270-826-2247
Kentucky Dam Village SRP - Phone: 270-362-4271
Natural Bridge SRP - Phone: 606-663-2214

This is a feature that I am very excited to display on my web site. I have written three editions of a book entitled Parks Directory of the United States, which has included descriptive information on national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, and more than 3,300 state parks, historic sites, and natural areas. In compiling information for the book, I have come to realize that there are a number of state parks that rival the more famous national parks in terms of beauty, cultural and historical significance, and natural resources, though many of these parks are not well known to the general public.

I always had in the back of my mind the idea of compiling a list of the "best" state parks in the United States. Of course, I always knew that such a list would be extremely subjective, since the best parks to a bird-watcher wouldn't be the best parks to a cross-country skier or an off-road biker. Nevertheless, I went forward with my idea and contacted the directors of each of the 50 state park systems and posed the following question:

If you were trying to showcase your state park system, what would be your recommendation to visitors for 2-3 must see" parks and why?

In their replies, many of the directors pointed out how difficult the task had been to select only 2-3 state parks for this project when they had dozens or even hundreds to choose from. Some stretched the rules a little bit and listed 4-5 parks. (I decided to leave these extra selections in.) In many cases, the selections include accompanying text information, which can be viewed by clicking on the "what they said" link that appears just below each state name. Each state name is hyperlinked to the official home page for each state park system. Wherever possible, I have also provided direct links to each individual park and have included phone numbers as well.

In a feature that is certainly open to debate, here is a list of the "Best of the Best State Parks." If you want to express your opinion about state parks that you feel should have been included on the list, please feel free to post a message on the National/State Parks Bulletin Board.

The "Best of the Best" State Parks:

Alabama
DeSoto SP - Phone: 256-845-0051
Joe Wheeler SP - Phone: 256-247-5466
Lake Guntersville SP - Phone: 256-571-5444

Alaska
Chugach SP - Phone: 907-345-5014
Denali SP - Phone: 907-745-3975
Totem Bight SHP - Phone: 907-465-4563
Wood-Tikchik SP - Phone: 907-269-8698

Arizona
what they said
Kartchner Caverns SP - Phone: 520-586-2283
Red Rock SP - Phone: 520-282-6907
Tonto Natural Bridge SP - Phone: 520-476-4202

Arkansas
what they said
Crater of Diamonds SP - Phone: 870-285-3113
Ozark Folk Center SP - Phone: 870-269-3851
Petit Jean SP - Phone: 501-727-5441

California
what they said
Anza-Borrego Desert SP - Phone: 760-767-5311
Big Basin Redwoods SP - Phone: 831-338-8860
Hearst Castle - Phone: 800-444-4445
Huntington SB - Phone: 714-536-1454
Prairie Creek Redwoods SP - Phone: 707-464-6101

Colorado
what they said
Mueller SP - Phone: 719-687-2366
Roxborough SP - Phone: 303-973-3959
Steamboat Lake SP - Phone: 970-879-3922
Sylvan Lake SP - Phone: 970-625-1607

Connecticut what they said
Dinosaur SP - Phone: 860-529-5816
Gillette Castle SP - Phone: 860-526-2336
Hammonasset Beach SP - Phone: 203-245-2785

Delaware
what they said
Cape Henlopen SP - Phone: 302-645-8983
Fort Delaware SP - Phone: 302-834-7941
Trap Pond SP - Phone: 302-875-5153

Florida
what they said
John Pennekamp Coral Reef SP - Phone: 305-451-1202
Myakka River SP - Phone: 941-361-6511
Paynes Prairie SP - Phone: 352-466-3397
St. Joseph Peninsula SP - Phone: 850-227-1327
Wekiwa Springs SP - Phone: 407-884-2008

Georgia
what they said
Cloudland Canyon SP - Phone: 706-657-4050
Providence Canyon SP - Phone: 912-838-6202
Tallulah Gorge SP - Phone: 706-754-7970

Hawaii
Koke'e SP & Waimea Canyon SP - Phone: 808-587-0300
Iao Valley SP - Phone: 808-587-0300
Diamond Head SM - Phone: 808-587-0300

Idaho
Bruneau Dunes SP - Phone: 208-366-7919
Ponderosa SP - Phone: 208-634-2164
Priest Lake SP - Phone: 208-443-2200

Illinois
what they said
Cache River SNA[/link] - Phone: 618-634-9678
Chain O'Lakes SP[/link] - Phone: 847-587-5512
Pere Marquette SP[/link] - Phone: 618-786-3323

Indiana
what they said
Brown County SP - Phone: 812-988-6406
Falls of the Ohio SP - Phone: 812-280-9970
Indiana Dunes SP - Phone: 219-926-1952

Iowa
what they said
Backbone SP - Phone: 319-924-2527
Ledges SP - Phone: 515-432-1852
Waubonsie SP - Phone: 712-382-2786

Kansas
what they said
Cheney SP - Phone: 316-542-3664
Scott SP - Phone: 316-872-2061
Tuttle Creek SP - Phone: 785-539-7941

Kentucky
what they said
John James Audubon SP - Phone: 270-826-2247
Kentucky Dam Village SRP - Phone: 270-362-4271
Natural Bridge SRP - Phone: 606-663-2214

Louisiana
what they said
Bayou Segnette SP - Phone: 504-736-7140
Fontainebleau SP - Phone: 504-624-4443
Lake Fausse Pointe SP - 318-229-4764
North Toledo Bend SP - Phone: 318-645-4715
Tickfaw SP - Phone: 225-294-5020

Maine
Reid SP - Phone: 207-371-2303
Sebago Lake SP - Phone: 207-693-6613

Maryland
Assateague SP - Phone: 410-641-2120
Elk Neck SP - Phone: 410-287-5333
Gunpowder Falls SP - Phone: 410-592-2897
Swallow Falls SP - Phone: 301-387-6938

Massachusetts
what they said
Mount Greylock SR - Phone: 413-499-4262
Nickerson SP - Phone: 508-896-3491
Walden Pond SR - Phone: 978-369-3254

Michigan
what they said
Ludington SP - Phone: 231-843-8671
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness SP - Phone: 906-885-5275
Tahquamenon SP - Phone: 906-492-3415
Waterloo Recreation Area - Phone: 734-475-8307

Minnesota
what they said
Blue Mounds SP - Phone: 507-283-1307
Itasca SP - Phone: 218-266-2114
Forestville/Mystery Cave SP - Phone: 507-352-5111

Mississippi
what they said
John W. Kyle SP - Phone: 662-487-1345
Percy Quin SP - Phone: 601-684-3938
Tishomingo SP - Phone: 662-438-6914

Missouri
Ha Ha Tonka SP - Phone: 573-346-2986
Meramec SP - Phone: 573-468-6072
Montauk SP - Phone: 573-548-2201
Prairie SP - Phone: 417-843-6711

Montana
what they said
Lewis and Clark Caverns SP- Phone: 406-287-3541
Makoshika SP- Phone: 406-365-6256
Ulm Pishkun SP - Phone: 406-866-2217

Nebraska
Eugene T.

Mahoney SP - Phone: 402-944-2523
Fort Robinson SP - Phone: 308-665-2900
Lake McConaughy SRA - Phone: 308-284-3542

Nevada
Berlin-Ichthyosaur SP - Phone: 775-964-2440
Cathedral Gorge SP - Phone: 775-728-4460
Valley of Fire SP - Phone: 702-397-2088

New Hampshire
what they said
Franconia Notch SP - Phone: 603-823-8800
Mount Washington SP - Phone: 603-466-3347
Odiorne Point SP - Phone: 603-436-7406

New Jersey
what they said
High Point SP- Phone: 973-875-4800
Island Beach SP - Phone: 732-793-0506
Wharton SF - Phone: 609-561-0024

New Mexico
what they said
City of Rocks SP - Phone: 505-536-2800
Living Desert Zoo & Gardens SP - Phone: 505-887-5516
Sugarite Canyon - Phone: 505-445-5607

New York
what they said
Jones Beach SP - Phone: 516-785-1600
Niagara Reservation SP - Phone: 716-278-1796
Riverbank SP - Phone: 212-694-3600
Saratoga Spa SP - Phone: 518-584-2535

North Carolina
what they said
Hammocks Beach SP - Phone: 910-326-4881
Hanging Rock SP - Phone: 336-593-8480
Morrow Mountain SP - Phone: 704-982-4402
Stone Mountain SP - Phone: 336-957-8185

North Dakota
what they said
Fort Abraham Lincoln SP - Phone: 701-663-9571
Icelandic SP - Phone: 701-265-4561
Lake Sakakawea SP - Phone: 701-487-3315

Ohio
what they said
Hocking Hills - Phone: 740-385-6841
Hueston Woods SP - Phone: 513-523-6347
Mohican SP - Phone: 419-994-4290

Louisiana
what they said
Bayou Segnette SP - Phone: 504-736-7140
Fontainebleau SP - Phone: 504-624-4443
Lake Fausse Pointe SP - 318-229-4764
North Toledo Bend SP - Phone: 318-645-4715
Tickfaw SP - Phone: 225-294-5020

Maine
Reid SP - Phone: 207-371-2303
Sebago Lake SP - Phone: 207-693-6613

Maryland
Assateague SP - Phone: 410-641-2120
Elk Neck SP - Phone: 410-287-5333
Gunpowder Falls SP - Phone: 410-592-2897
Swallow Falls SP - Phone: 301-387-6938

Massachusetts
what they said
Mount Greylock SR - Phone: 413-499-4262
Nickerson SP - Phone: 508-896-3491
Walden Pond SR - Phone: 978-369-3254

Michigan
what they said
Ludington SP - Phone: 231-843-8671
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness SP - Phone: 906-885-5275
Tahquamenon SP - Phone: 906-492-3415
Waterloo Recreation Area - Phone: 734-475-8307

Minnesota
what they said
Blue Mounds SP - Phone: 507-283-1307
Itasca SP - Phone: 218-266-2114
Forestville/Mystery Cave SP - Phone: 507-352-5111

Mississippi
what they said
John W. Kyle SP - Phone: 662-487-1345
Percy Quin SP - Phone: 601-684-3938
Tishomingo SP - Phone: 662-438-6914

Missouri
Ha Ha Tonka SP - Phone: 573-346-2986
Meramec SP - Phone: 573-468-6072
Montauk SP - Phone: 573-548-2201
Prairie SP - Phone: 417-843-6711

Montana
what they said
Lewis and Clark Caverns SP- Phone: 406-287-3541
Makoshika SP- Phone: 406-365-6256
Ulm Pishkun SP - Phone: 406-866-2217

Nebraska
Eugene T. Mahoney SP - Phone: 402-944-2523
Fort Robinson SP - Phone: 308-665-2900
Lake McConaughy SRA - Phone: 308-284-3542

Nevada
Berlin-Ichthyosaur SP - Phone: 775-964-2440
Cathedral Gorge SP - Phone: 775-728-4460
Valley of Fire SP - Phone: 702-397-2088

New Hampshire
what they said
Franconia Notch SP - Phone: 603-823-8800
Mount Washington SP - Phone: 603-466-3347
Odiorne Point SP - Phone: 603-436-7406

New Jersey
what they said
High Point SP- Phone: 973-875-4800
Island Beach SP - Phone: 732-793-0506
Wharton SF - Phone: 609-561-0024

New Mexico
what they said
City of Rocks SP - Phone: 505-536-2800
Living Desert Zoo & Gardens SP - Phone: 505-887-5516
Sugarite Canyon - Phone: 505-445-5607

New York
what they said
Jones Beach SP - Phone: 516-785-1600
Niagara Reservation SP - Phone: 716-278-1796
Riverbank SP - Phone: 212-694-3600
Saratoga Spa SP - Phone: 518-584-2535

North Carolina
what they said
Hammocks Beach SP - Phone: 910-326-4881
Hanging Rock SP - Phone: 336-593-8480
Morrow Mountain SP - Phone: 704-982-4402
Stone Mountain SP - Phone: 336-957-8185

North Dakota
what they said
Fort Abraham Lincoln SP - Phone: 701-663-9571
Icelandic SP - Phone: 701-265-4561
Lake Sakakawea SP - Phone: 701-487-3315

Ohio
what they said
Hocking Hills - Phone: 740-385-6841
Hueston Woods SP - Phone: 513-523-6347
Mohican SP - Phone: 419-994-4290

Oklahoma
what they said
Beavers Bend SP - Phone: 580-494-6300
Quartz Mountain RP - Phone: 580-563-2238
Robbers Cave SP - Phone: 918-465-2565

Oregon
what they said
Ecola SP - Phone:541-436-2844
Shore Acres SP - Phone: 541-888-3732
Silver Falls SP - Phone: 503-873-8681
Smith Rock SP - Phone: 541-548-7501

Pennsylvania
what they said
Ohiopyle SP - Phone: 724-329-8591
Presque Isle SP - Phone: 814-833-7424
Ricketts Glen SP - Phone: 570-477-5675

Rhode Island
what they said
Beavertail SP - Phone: 401-423-9941
Colt SP - Phone: 401-253-7482
Goddard Memorial SP - Phone: 401-884-2010
Misquamicut SB - Phone: 401-596-9097

South Carolina
what they said
Caesars Head SP - Phone: 864-836-6115
Huntington Beach SP - Phone: 843-237-4440
Jones Gap SP - Phone: 864-836-3647

South Dakota
what they said
Custer SP - Phone: 605-255-4515
Fort Sisseton SP - Phone: 605-448-5701
Lewis and Clark SRA - Phone: 605-668-2985

Tennessee
Fall Creek Falls SP - Phone: 423-881-5298
Montgomery Bell SP - Phone: 615-797-9052
Paris Landing SP - Phone: 901-644-7359

Texas
Garner SP - Phone: 830-232-6132
Goliad SHP - Phone: 361-645-3405
Palo Duro Canyon SP - Phone: 806-488-2227

Utah
what they said
Antelope Island SP - Phone: 801-773-2941
Dead Horse Point SP - Phone: 435-259-2614
Wasatch Mountain SP - Phone: 435-654-1791

Vermont
what they said
Burton Island SP - Phone: 802-524-6353
Coolidge SP - Phone: 802-672-3612
Mount Philo SP - Phone: 802-425-2390
Silver Lake SP - Phone: 802-234-9451

Virginia
what they said
Douthat SP - Phone: 540-862-8100
Grayson Highlands SP - Phone: 540-579-7092
Kiptopeke SP - Phone: 757-331-2267

Washington
what they said
Fort Canby SP - Phone: 360-642-3078
Fort Worden SP - Phone: 360-385-4730
Sun Lakes/Dry Falls SP - Phone: 509-632-5583

West Virginia
what they said
Blackwater Falls SP - Phone: 304-259-5216
Pipestem Resort SP - Phone: 304-466-1800
Watoga SP - Phone: 304-799-4087

Wisconsin
what they said
Copper Falls SP - Phone: 715-274-5123
Peninsula SP - Phone: 920-868-3258

Wyoming
Guernsey SP - Phone: 307-836-2334
Medicine Lodge SAS - Phone: 307-469-2234
Sinks Canyon SP - Phone: 307-332-6333

The Best of the Best Winter State Parks

Oklahoma
what they said
Beavers Bend SP - Phone: 580-494-6300
Quartz Mountain RP - Phone: 580-563-2238
Robbers Cave SP - Phone: 918-465-2565

Oregon
what they said
Ecola SP - Phone:541-436-2844
Shore Acres SP - Phone: 541-888-3732
Silver Falls SP - Phone: 503-873-8681
Smith Rock SP - Phone: 541-548-7501

Pennsylvania
what they said
Ohiopyle SP - Phone: 724-329-8591
Presque Isle SP - Phone: 814-833-7424
Ricketts Glen SP - Phone: 570-477-5675

Rhode Island
what they said
Beavertail SP - Phone: 401-423-9941
Colt SP - Phone: 401-253-7482
Goddard Memorial SP - Phone: 401-884-2010
Misquamicut SB - Phone: 401-596-9097

South Carolina
what they said
Caesars Head SP - Phone: 864-836-6115
Huntington Beach SP - Phone: 843-237-4440
Jones Gap SP - Phone: 864-836-3647

South Dakota
what they said
Custer SP - Phone: 605-255-4515
Fort Sisseton SP - Phone: 605-448-5701
Lewis and Clark SRA - Phone: 605-668-2985

Tennessee
Fall Creek Falls SP - Phone: 423-881-5298
Montgomery Bell SP - Phone: 615-797-9052
Paris Landing SP - Phone: 901-644-7359

Texas
Garner SP - Phone: 830-232-6132
Goliad SHP - Phone: 361-645-3405
Palo Duro Canyon SP - Phone: 806-488-2227

Utah
what they said
Antelope Island SP - Phone: 801-773-2941
Dead Horse Point SP - Phone: 435-259-2614
Wasatch Mountain SP - Phone: 435-654-1791

Vermont
what they said
Burton Island SP - Phone: 802-524-6353
Coolidge SP - Phone: 802-672-3612
Mount Philo SP - Phone: 802-425-2390
Silver Lake SP - Phone: 802-234-9451

Virginia
what they said
Douthat SP - Phone: 540-862-8100
Grayson Highlands SP - Phone: 540-579-7092
Kiptopeke SP - Phone: 757-331-2267

Washington
what they said
Fort Canby SP - Phone: 360-642-3078
Fort Worden SP - Phone: 360-385-4730
Sun Lakes/Dry Falls SP - Phone: 509-632-5583

West Virginia
what they said
Blackwater Falls SP - Phone: 304-259-5216
Pipestem Resort SP - Phone: 304-466-1800
Watoga SP - Phone: 304-799-4087

Wisconsin
what they said
Copper Falls SP - Phone: 715-274-5123
Peninsula SP - Phone: 920-868-3258

Wyoming
Guernsey SP - Phone: 307-836-2334
Medicine Lodge SAS - Phone: 307-469-2234
Sinks Canyon SP - Phone: 307-332-6333

The Best of the Best Winter State Parks