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The Best State Parks to Visit in the Spring

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As you travel throughout the United States, I'm sure you've discovered that there are many 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. A few years ago I compiled a list of the "Best of the Best Winter State Parks" by contacting each of the 50 state park agencies and asking them to select three "must see" winter parks in their respective states.

This year I've decided to put together a similar feature, but focus on another seasonal theme: springtime travel to parks. Once again, I've contacted the 50 state park agencies and asked them each to choose three parks that stand out as great springtime destinations. Technically, spring in the Northern Hemisphere runs from around March 20 (vernal equinox) to around June 21 (summer solstice). As I'm sure you can imagine, however, what we generally think of as springtime arrives at different times to different parts of the country. In normally snowless areas, spring might begin as early as February. In other parts of the country snow begins to melt by March, causing rivers, streams, and waterfalls to swell with runoff and spring rains. In subarctic areas of Alaska, you may not see "spring" at all until May or even June.

In any event, I've left it up to the individual state park agencies to use their own definition of spring and as you'll see, their selections are as varied as the advent of the spring season itself. Many have chosen parks where fields of flowering plants or wildlfowers blanket the landscape or cascading waterfalls add to the scenic splendor. Others have chosen areas that feature animal migrations, notably birds. Still others have chosen areas of historical or recreational interest.

Springtime is a time of growth, renewal, and for observing the cycle of life starting anew. I hope your spring season will include visits to as many of these parks as possible and that you will be inspired and renewed by the splendor and majestic beauty that the "Best of the Best Spring State Parks" have to offer.

In the table below, you'll find the complete list of parks that have been selected for each state. Click on the state link for a brief description of each park.

Alabama

  • DeSoto State Park
  • Joe Wheeler State Park
  • Wind Creek State Park
Alaska
  • Clam Gulch State Recreation Area
  • Kenai River Special Management Area
  • Chugach State Park
Arizona
  • Fort Verde State Historic Park
  • Dead Horse Ranch State Park
  • Tonto Natural Bridge State Park
Arkansas
  • Mount Magazine State Park
  • Historic Washington State Park
  • Village Creek State Park
California
  • Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
  • Big Basin Redwoods State Park
  • Henry W. Coe State Park
Colorado
  • Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area
  • Roxoborough State Park
  • Rifle Falls State Park
Connecticut
  • Osbornedale State Park
  • Harkness Memorial State Park
  • Pachaug State Forest
Delaware
  • White Clay Creek State Park
  • The First State Heritage Park at Dover
  • Trap Pond State Park
Florida
  • Eden Gardens State Park
  • Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center State Park
  • Anastasia State Park
Georgia
  • Stephen C. Foster State Park
  • Smithgall Woods Conservation Area
  • Fort McAllister Historic Park
Hawaii
  • Kalopa State Recreation Area
  • Iao Valley State Monument
  • Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline and Makapu‘u Point State Wayside
Idaho
  • Thousand Springs State Park
  • Bruneau Dunes State Park
  • Three Island Crossing State Park
Illinois
  • Giant City State Park
  • Starved Rock State Park
  • Mississippi Palisades State Park
Indiana
  • Charlestown State Park
  • Monroe Lake
  • Chain O'Lakes State Park
Iowa
  • Pine Lake State Park
  • Lake Ahquabi State Park
  • Lake of Three Fires State Park
Kansas
  • Kanopolis State Park
  • Lovewell State Park
  • Cross Timbers State Park
Kentucky
  • Carter Caves State Resort Park
  • Pine Mountain State Resort Park
  • Pennyrile Forest State Resort Park
Louisiana
  • North Toledo Bend State Park
  • Poverty Point Reservoir State Park
  • Saint Bernard State Park
Maine
  • Wolfe's Neck Woods State Park
  • Camden Hills State Park
  • Popham Beach State Park
Maryland
  • Pocomoke River State Park
  • Rocky Gap State Park
  • Elk Neck State Park
Massachusetts
  • The Esplanade – Charles River Reservation
  • Moore State Park
  • D.A.R. State Forest
Michigan
  • Waterloo Recreation Area
  • Algonac State Park
  • Van Riper State Park
Minnesota
  • Whitewater State Park
  • Carley State Park
  • Banning State Park
Mississippi
  • Roosevelt State Park
  • John Kyle State Park
  • Percy Quin State Park
Missouri
  • Montauk State Park
  • Washington State Park
  • Prairie State Park
Montana
  • Missouri Headwaters State Park
  • Chief Plenty Coups State Park
  • Pictograph Cave State Park
Nebraska
  • Fort Kearny State Recreation Area and Historical Park
  • Rock Creek Station State Historical Park and Recreation Area
  • Indian Cave State Park
Nevada
  • Spring Mountain Ranch State Park
  • Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park
  • Fort Churchill State Historic Park
New Hampshire
  • Pawtuckaway State Park
  • Pillsbury State Park
  • Northwood Meadows State Park
New Jersey
  • Ringwood State Park
  • Washington Crossing State Park
  • Cheesequake State Park
New Mexico
  • Navajo Lake State Park
  • Caballo Lake State Park
  • Rio Grande Nature Center State Park
New York
  • Grafton Lakes State Park
  • Rockefeller State Park Preserve
  • Fair Haven Beach State Park
North Carolina
  • Merchants Millpond State Park
  • William B. Umstead State Park
  • Stone Mountain State Park
North Dakota
  • Fort Stevenson State Park
  • Little Missouri State Park
  • Sully Creek State Recreation Area
Ohio
  • Shawnee State Park
  • John Bryan State Park
  • Malabar Farm State Park
Oklahoma
  • Beavers Bend State Park
  • Great Salt Plains State Park
  • Lake Eufaula State Park
Oregon
  • Shore Acres State Park
  • Champoeg State Heritage Area
  • Catherine Creek State Park
Pennsylvania
  • Ricketts Glen State Park
  • Presque Isle State Park
  • Cook Forest State Park
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