1. Travel

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." 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:

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

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

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

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

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

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

what they said

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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