21 Best State Parks In The US for Camping

Are you an outdoor enthusiast looking for the next great camping adventure? Get ready to discover some of the best state parks in the US for camping, each offering unique experiences set against stunning backdrops. From the arid, picturesque landscapes of the Southwest to the lush forests and serene beaches of the East, America’s state parks provide the perfect setting for your next tent-pitching, star-gazing, marshmallow-toasting getaway.

Whether you’re after the rugged wilderness of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or the white sand beaches of Florida, there’s a state park waiting for you. Enjoy the clear night skies over Pennsylvania, the vibrant autumn colors in Texas, or the ethereal beauty of Utah’s desert. These parks offer a diversity of landscapes and activities that cater to all tastes and interests. Pack your gear and prepare to make some unforgettable memories in these amazing camping destinations!

best state parks in the us for camping

1. Custer State Park, South Dakota

Custer State Park in South Dakota is a true gem, often referred to as a wildlife paradise. Imagine camping amidst a scenic backdrop, and one of the highlights – a majestic herd of bison freely roaming the park. It’s not just bison you’ll see; the park’s diverse wildlife includes pronghorns, elk, and a variety of bird species, making it a haven for nature enthusiasts and animal lovers.

Camping at Custer is a treat, offering everything from primitive to more developed sites, depending on how close you want to get to nature. Whether you’re a seasoned camper seeking a back-to-nature experience or a family looking for a campground with modern amenities, Custer State Park has got you covered. With over 200 camping sites spread across different campgrounds, there’s a spot for every kind of camper. It’s a camping destination that marries adventure and serenity like no other!

bison in custer state park

2. Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, California

Oh, the beauty of Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Northern California! There’s nothing quite like pitching your tent beneath the sky-scraping canopy of ancient redwood trees, some of the oldest and tallest living things on Earth. Just imagine, as the daylight fades, the soft glow of your campfire illuminating these gentle giants – it’s a sight that’s bound to make your heart skip a beat.

The park is more than just an extraordinary camping spot; it’s also an adventurer’s playground. Hiking trails meander through dense forests, along serene rivers, and out to the rugged Northern California coast. Each trail offers a different perspective of the park’s breathtaking landscapes, showcasing its incredible biodiversity. Whether you’re a nature lover, a hiking enthusiast, or a camping aficionado, Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park is sure to leave you spellbound.

redwoods in jedediah smith redwoods state park

3. Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Welcome to the enchanting Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio! This place is brimming with natural wonders – we’re talking cascading waterfalls, deep gorges, and dramatic rock formations that look like they’re straight out of a fantasy movie. Exploring here feels like stepping into a storybook, each turn revealing a new, exciting chapter of nature’s artwork.

Camping at Hocking Hills is just as delightful. The park offers a variety of campsites tailored to different camping styles. If you’re into traditional tent camping and want to disconnect from the digital world, opt for a non-electric site nestled in the woods. For those who prefer a few more home comforts, such as an RV hookup, the park also provides electric sites. Either way, you’ll wake up to the sounds of nature and the park’s awe-inspiring beauty just outside your tent door. It’s genuinely a camper’s paradise!

waterfall in hocking hills state park

4. Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin

If you’re looking for a campsite that offers more than just a place to pitch your tent, then Devils Lake State Park in Wisconsin should be right up your alley. It’s a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, boasting a delightful mix of land and water activities. You’ve got miles of hiking trails that meander around the lake and up to spectacular viewpoints. And trust me, the panoramic views of the lake and surrounding forest are worth every step of the climb.

But the fun doesn’t stop there. The park’s centerpiece, Devils Lake, is perfect for cooling off on a hot summer’s day. Whether you’re a fan of swimming or prefer to paddle around in a kayak or canoe, the lake offers hours of fun. As the sun sets, head back to your campsite, where you can swap stories around the campfire under a starlit sky. From adventurous days to peaceful nights, Devils Lake State Park truly encapsulates the best of camping!

kayaker at devil's lake state park

5. Cherry Springs State Park, Pennsylvania

Picture this: you’re lying back in your camping chair, sipping on some hot cocoa, as a blanket of stars unfurls above you. Sounds dreamy, right? That’s a typical night at Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. This park is renowned for its pristine dark skies, making it a stargazer’s paradise. The lack of light pollution means you can gaze deep into the cosmos, spotting constellations, planets, and maybe even a shooting star if you’re lucky! It’s no wonder that Cherry Springs State Park is one of the best tent camping spots in PA.

The daytime in Cherry Springs is just as magical. Explore the park’s beautiful landscapes, take a leisurely picnic, or simply enjoy the serenity. Then as the day turns to dusk, prepare for the celestial spectacle that awaits. If you’re a space enthusiast or just someone who appreciates the quiet beauty of a starlit night, camping at Cherry Springs State Park is an experience you won’t want to miss.

cherry springs state park

6. Anastasia State Park, Florida

Anastasia State Park in sunny Florida is a coastal retreat that’s got it all! Picture waking up to the gentle lull of waves and a cool ocean breeze, with white sandy beaches just a stone’s throw away from your campsite. Yeah, it’s that kind of place – where the line between camping and a beach vacation blurs beautifully into a wonderful beach camping vacation.

And let me tell you, the fun doesn’t stop at beach lounging and castle building. Get your binoculars ready because the park is a haven for bird watchers, boasting a rich variety of avian species. If you’re a water sports enthusiast, you’ll be in your element too. Whether it’s paddleboarding, kayaking, or surfing, Anastasia has plenty to keep you on your toes. So come along, because a camping adventure in Anastasia State Park promises sand, surf, and so much more!

anastasia state park beach camping

7. Fall Creek Falls State Park, Tennessee

Let me introduce you to Fall Creek Falls State Park in Tennessee, a nature lover’s wonderland. Its crowning glory? One of the highest waterfalls in the eastern United States, plunging 256 feet into a deep gorge. Camping here offers front-row seats to this stunning spectacle and a whole lot more. It’s not every day you wake up in the shadow of such an awe-inspiring waterfall, after all!

But the waterfall is just the beginning. There’s a network of trails that let you explore the park’s varied terrain on foot, whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging hike. If you’re a golfing enthusiast, you’ll be thrilled to find an 18-hole golf course right in the park. And let’s not forget about the boating opportunities on the park’s lake – a perfect way to spend a sunny afternoon. No matter how you choose to fill your days, camping at Fall Creek Falls State Park is an experience that hits a hole-in-one!

fall creek falls state park

8. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, California

Imagine this: you’re sitting at your campsite in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, gazing at a jaw-dropping waterfall as it cascades directly into the vast Pacific Ocean. This isn’t a scene from a movie, it’s what you can expect when you camp at this park in California. With its dramatic waterfall, towering redwood trees, and sweeping ocean views, the park’s natural beauty is something straight out of a postcard.

But it’s not just the views that make this park special. It’s also the connection with nature that camping here offers. You’ll be waking up among ancient redwoods, spending your days exploring trails with ocean vistas, and falling asleep to the lullaby of crashing waves. Whether you’re a nature lover, an avid hiker, or a camping enthusiast, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park offers an unforgettable outdoor experience. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to pinch yourself to see if you’re dreaming!

julia pfeiffer burns state park

9. Dead Horse Point State Park, Utah

Have you ever seen a landscape so captivating it leaves you speechless? That’s Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah for you. Perched high above a dramatic bend in the Colorado River, the park unveils a panorama of sculpted canyons, crimson cliffs, and expansive desert landscapes that’ll make you feel like you’re on another planet. It’s a scene so breathtaking, you might just forget to set up your tent!

Camping at Dead Horse Point is a dream come true for those who love the stark beauty of the desert. As the day winds down, you’ll be treated to a sunset that drenches the landscape in hues of orange and pink. And when night falls, get ready for a celestial show as the clear desert sky reveals a sea of stars. If you’re in the mood for an otherworldly camping experience filled with awe-inspiring views, Dead Horse Point State Park should definitely be on your bucket list!

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Dead Horse Point State ParkUtahPerched above a bend in the Colorado River, offering views of sculpted canyons, crimson cliffs, and expansive desert landscapes.Camping, stargazing, viewing sunsets.

10. Letchworth State Park, New York

Letchworth State Park, often dubbed the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is a sight for sore eyes. Nestled in New York state, the park is home to a magnificent deep gorge, carved out by the Genesee River, and framed by towering cliffs. The park’s pièce de résistance? A trio of stunning waterfalls that add to the park’s awe-inspiring allure. With such incredible scenery, you can’t help but feel a sense of peace and reverence for nature’s handiwork.

Camping at Letchworth is truly a memorable experience. You’re not just camping; you’re immersing yourself in an exceptional landscape. And if you think it couldn’t get any better, visit in the fall. The park explodes into a riot of colors, with the trees painting a breathtaking backdrop of reds, oranges, and yellows. So, whether you’re a seasoned camper, a nature lover, or someone just seeking a peaceful retreat, Letchworth State Park offers an unforgettable camping experience. It’s Mother Nature showing off in her finest hour!

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Letchworth State ParkNew YorkKnown as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” with a deep gorge, towering cliffs, and a trio of waterfalls.Camping, visiting in the fall for breathtaking foliage.

11. Fort De Soto Park, Florida

Fort De Soto Park in Florida takes beachfront camping to a whole new level! Imagine stepping out of your tent each morning onto warm sand, the sound of waves lapping at the shore as your wake-up call. It’s a unique camping experience that combines the adventure of the outdoors with the idyllic vibes of a beach vacation. And let’s be real, who can resist the allure of a beachside sunrise?

But the park’s appeal doesn’t end with its stunning beaches. History buffs will get a kick out of exploring the park’s namesake, the historic Fort De Soto, complete with cannons, barracks, and spectacular views. If you’re more into water activities, the park’s got you covered with opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and snorkeling. Whether you’re a camper, a history enthusiast, or a water-lover, Fort De Soto Park offers a well-rounded experience that caters to all interests and guarantees a memorable stay.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Fort De Soto ParkFloridaBeachfront camping, a historic fort, and stunning beaches.Camping, exploring history, fishing, kayaking, snorkeling.

12. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Michigan

In the western corner of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, you’ll find a little slice of wilderness heaven known as Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It’s a place where unspoiled nature reigns supreme, and the rhythm of life is dictated by the ebb and flow of the seasons. If you’re a camper who yearns for a rugged, back-to-nature experience, this park is just the ticket. Picture camping under a canopy of stars, surrounded by the hush of the wilderness – it’s as raw and authentic as camping gets!

The park’s natural beauty extends beyond the campgrounds, though. With over 90 miles of hiking trails, there’s ample opportunity to immerse yourself in the park’s diverse landscapes. Some trails will lead you deep into lush forests, while others trace the rugged shoreline of Lake Superior, offering incredible views that are worth every step. For the intrepid explorer or the solitude-seeker, camping at Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is an adventure in the purest sense.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State ParkMichiganOffers rugged wilderness camping and over 90 miles of hiking trails.Camping, hiking, exploring forests and the Lake Superior shoreline.

13. Rocky Neck State Park, Connecticut

Ever thought about combining a beach holiday with a camping adventure? That’s exactly what you get when you camp at Rocky Neck State Park in Connecticut. Just imagine waking up in the heart of nature and being a short walk away from a beautiful, sandy beach. Whether you want to soak up the sun, take a dip in the refreshing water, or just relax with a good book, having beach access takes camping to a whole new level!

And it’s not all about the beach here. The park also serves as a sanctuary for a wide variety of bird species, making it a bird-watcher’s paradise. From the chirping of songbirds in the morning to the sight of waterfowl skimming the surface of the lake, it’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with nature in a quiet, intimate way. Camping at Rocky Neck State Park is like hitting the pause button on life’s busyness, giving you a chance to enjoy the simple pleasures in a uniquely beautiful setting.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Rocky Neck State ParkConnecticutCombines a beach holiday with a camping adventure and offers bird-watching opportunities.Camping, beach activities, bird-watching.

14. Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah

Welcome to Kodachrome Basin State Park in Utah, a place so enchanting that it was named after Kodak’s iconic color film. And once you see the park’s vibrant, multi-hued geological features, you’ll understand why. From towering sandstone chimneys painted in shades of red, orange, and pink, to monolithic stone spires reaching towards the sky, the park’s landscape is a feast for the eyes. It’s like stepping into a living, breathing postcard!

But Kodachrome Basin isn’t just a pretty face; it’s an outdoor playground, too. Lace up your hiking boots and set off on the park’s trails to explore its natural beauty up close. Or, for a real treat, why not try horseback riding through this remarkable landscape? There’s something incredibly peaceful about trotting along the trails, surrounded by nature’s masterpiece. With its distinctive geological wonders and wealth of outdoor activities, camping at Kodachrome Basin State Park is truly a technicolor dream.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Kodachrome Basin State ParkUtahNamed for Kodak’s color film, it features colorful geological features.Camping, hiking, horseback riding.

15. Lost Maples State Natural Area, Texas

If you think stunning fall foliage is the exclusive domain of the Northeast, then Lost Maples State Natural Area in Texas will make you think again. Known for its vibrant autumn display, Lost Maples paints a spectacular tapestry of colors each fall, transforming the landscape into a visual feast of reds, oranges, and yellows. You won’t be blamed for thinking you’ve wandered into an impressionist painting while camping here!

Of course, Lost Maples has plenty more to offer beyond its autumn splendor. The park boasts a network of trails where you can stretch your legs and soak up the natural beauty all year round. If you’re a fan of fishing, the park’s creeks are teeming with fish, offering a tranquil way to while away an afternoon. And don’t forget to bring your binoculars, as the park is home to a wide array of bird species. So, whether you’re a leaf peeper, a hiker, or a fishing enthusiast, Lost Maples State Natural Area is a camping destination that ticks all the boxes.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Lost Maples State Natural AreaTexasKnown for its fall foliage.Camping, hiking, fishing, bird-watching.

16. Adirondack Park, New York

Sprawling across a whopping six million acres, Adirondack Park in New York is like a massive playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Picture this: a region teeming with mountains that scrape the sky, forests that buzz with life, and shimmering waterways that snake through the landscape. Camping here means immersing yourself in this breathtaking environment, where every day is ripe with adventure.

Adirondack Park is a place that invites you to be active. With countless hiking trails weaving through its varied terrain, you can spend days exploring the park on foot, soaking in the serenity and grandeur of nature. And if you’re drawn to water, you’ll find plenty of lakes and rivers ideal for fishing or boating. The park is more than just a camping destination; it’s an invitation to connect with nature, and that’s an offer too good to pass up.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Adirondack ParkNew YorkSix million acres of mountains, forests, and waterways.Hiking, fishing, boating.

17. Caddo Lake State Park, Texas

Caddo Lake State Park in Texas is unlike any other camping destination you’ve encountered. With its enchanting swamp-like scenery featuring towering cypress trees draped in Spanish moss, it’s a place that feels both mystical and timeless. Camping here isn’t just about pitching a tent; it’s about being part of a hauntingly beautiful tableau that feels lifted straight out of a Southern Gothic novel.

Beyond its unique aesthetic, Caddo Lake State Park has plenty to keep outdoor enthusiasts engaged. Canoeing is a popular pastime here, allowing you to glide through the park’s maze of bayous and sloughs at your own pace. And if you’re keen on fishing, the park’s waters are teeming with a variety of species. From its distinctive scenery to its leisure activities, camping at Caddo Lake State Park is a unique and unforgettable experience that’ll linger in your memory long after you’ve packed up your tent.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Caddo Lake State ParkTexasSwamp-like aesthetic with cypress trees and Spanish moss.Camping, fishing, canoeing.

18. Chugach State Park, Alaska

With its stunning, untouched wilderness, towering mountain ranges, and abundant wildlife, Chugach State Park in Alaska is a gem waiting to be discovered. It’s one of those places that remind you just how incredible Mother Nature can be. Perched on the edge of Anchorage, this expansive park offers a taste of wild Alaska while being surprisingly accessible.

Camping in Chugach State Park is like taking a front-row seat to nature’s grand spectacle. During the day, lace up your hiking boots and hit the trails, where stunning vistas await around every turn. The park’s rivers and lakes are fantastic for fishing, offering the chance to reel in a variety of fish. But perhaps the highlight for many is the opportunity to spot wildlife in its natural habitat. From moose and bears to eagles and wolves, this park is a haven for many of Alaska’s iconic species. So grab your binoculars and keep your eyes peeled! Camping in Chugach State Park is an adventure in every sense of the word.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Chugach State ParkAlaskaExpansive park with pristine wilderness, towering mountains, and abundant wildlife.Hiking, fishing, wildlife spotting.

19. Bahia Honda State Park, Florida

Imagine a place where emerald waters lap against white sandy shores, where palm trees sway gently in the breeze, and where you can spend your nights under a canopy of stars. Welcome to Bahia Honda State Park in Florida – a tropical paradise that feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its stellar beachfront camping, Bahia Honda offers a dreamy escape where you can fall asleep to the sound of waves and wake up to stunning ocean views.

But it’s not all about lazy beach days here. Bahia Honda State Park is a hub for marine activities, with some of Florida’s best snorkeling on offer. Picture plunging into the warm, clear water and being greeted by a vibrant underwater world teeming with colorful fish and corals. And when the day is done, nothing beats watching the sunset paint the sky in shades of pink and orange, reflecting on a day well-spent in paradise. Whether you’re a beach bum, a snorkeling enthusiast, or just someone who loves the great outdoors, camping at Bahia Honda State Park is an experience you won’t soon forget.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Bahia Honda State ParkFloridaOffers some of the best snorkeling and beachfront camping in Florida, a tropical paradise.Snorkeling, beach camping.

20. Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas

Deep in the heart of Texas, there’s a place where the earth opens up to reveal a dramatic landscape of canyons and cliffs. Welcome to Palo Duro Canyon State Park, often dubbed the “Grand Canyon of Texas.” With its rust-hued canyons etched by time and the elements, this park showcases the rugged beauty of the Lone Star State. Camping here isn’t just an overnight stay; it’s an immersion into a breathtaking geological wonder that stirs the adventurer within.

Palo Duro Canyon State Park invites you to explore its splendor. Lacing up your hiking boots and setting off on the park’s extensive trail network is a must-do. As you navigate the winding paths, each bend reveals a new view, a new slice of this Texan wonder. The camping experience here is just as unique, offering a chance to sleep beneath a vast, star-filled sky, surrounded by the whispering canyons. This is a place where nature’s grandeur meets outdoor adventure, creating a camping trip to remember.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Palo Duro Canyon State ParkTexasKnown as the “Grand Canyon of Texas,” featuring dramatic canyons and excellent hiking trails.Hiking and a unique camping experience.

21. Itasca State Park, Minnesota

Nestled in the heart of Minnesota, Itasca State Park is a place where natural beauty, outdoor fun, and historical significance merge seamlessly. As the headwaters of the mighty Mississippi River, the park is a living testament to the beginnings of one of America’s most famous waterways. Picture this: pristine lakes surrounded by lush forests, an abundance of wildlife, and the chance to step across the Mississippi as it starts its winding journey to the Gulf of Mexico. Camping in Itasca State Park connects you to both nature’s charm and a slice of American history.

The park’s beautiful setting is ripe for exploration and enjoyment. With its clear waters, Itasca State Park is a haven for water activities, offering everything from boating and fishing to swimming and paddleboarding. But the park isn’t just about watersports; it’s a great place for hiking and wildlife spotting too. At the end of the day, there’s nothing quite like settling down in your camp, surrounded by the sounds and sights of nature. Itasca State Park gives you the chance to create camping memories you’ll cherish for a lifetime.

Park NameLocationHighlightsActivities
Itasca State ParkMinnesotaThe headwaters of the Mississippi River, offers beautiful scenery and historical significance.Hiking, wildlife spotting, variety of water activities.

Unveiling America’s Hidden Gems

Camping in any of these state parks, often hailed as the best state parks in the US for camping, offers the chance to immerse yourself in some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes the country has to offer. You’re not just setting up a tent and cooking over a fire – you’re partaking in a uniquely American tradition that lets you reconnect with nature in a profound way. Whether you’re gazing up at towering redwoods, staring out over a desert landscape, or lounging by the ocean, you’re guaranteed an experience that is both transformative and unforgettable.

While these parks offer some of the finest camping in the nation, they represent just a fraction of the myriad state parks across the US. Each has its own unique charm, whether it’s the raw wilderness of Porcupine Mountains, the multi-hued landscapes of Kodachrome Basin, or the soothing rhythm of waves lapping the shore at Fort De Soto. The parks on this list offer diverse and inspiring camping experiences, but the ultimate beauty of camping lies in the personal connection you make with the outdoors. So, pack up your gear, choose your park, and get ready for a camping adventure that’s as big and diverse as America itself!

Jim Murphy

Jim's love for camping started at an early age. His parents would take him camping every summer, where he'd spend his days getting quality time in with his dad and his nights eating too many smores.

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