Welcome to America’s State Parks
We are so fortunate to have so many great state parks in our country. The natural beauty across our 50 states is amazing. No matter where you are, in any or our states, you will probably find yourself just a short distance from one of the thousands of State Parks or other natural recreation areas. It may even be a challenge trying to decide which one to go.
“Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.” – L. Wolfe Gilbert
Our goal is to help you plan your trip to enjoy the natural beauty our state parks provide. We provide information regarding the state parks including, what to do, camping, picnic spots, fishing, hiking, boating, bicycling, snowmobiling and more. There are so many outdoor activities you can do. You can make memories of a lifetimes with your family and friends.
I always worry that I am going to forget something when planning a camping trip. I am sure I am alone. Having a camping checklist of gear and supplies you may need is helpful. That’s why we put together our complete checklist and guide of items to consider when hitting the outdoors for your next camping trip.
What is a State Park
State parks are established to preserve the natural beauty, historic sites, and provide outdoor recreational activities across the United States. State Parks as the name implies, are managed at a State level as opposed to a federal level like the National Park System. In many regards State Parks are very similar to National Parks. The real difference is in who manages and maintains the parks. State Parks tend to be smaller than National Parks, but that is not always the case.
History of State Parks
It all started with Niagara Falls State Park in New York and dates back to 1885. While that is the first official state park, there were several other parks that were maintained at a State level. Many State Park systems were established in the 1930’s. This came about through a federal jobs creation program which resulted in around 800 new state parks.
State Park Highlight: Custer State Park
Custer, South Dakota
Custer State park is a beautiful mixture of rolling plains and granite peaks popping up from the landscape. There are over 71,000 acres in the Black Hills of South Dakota. This makes it one of the largest state parks in the country.
This amazing park is well known for its roaming bison herds, numerous wildlife, beautiful scenic drives, historic sites from the wild west, fishing, resorts, campgrounds and more.
The Custer State Park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
Visitors traveling from the city of Custer should take US Hwy. 16 east. Visitors traveling from Hill City should take State Hwy 87 southeast. Visitors traveling from Keystone should take US Hwy. 16A south. Visitors traveling from Hermosa should take State Hwy. 36 west. Visitors traveling from Hot Springs and Wind Cave National Park should take State Hwy. 87 north.
Below is a list of the 50 States with a link to the individual State page. Each individual State pages has a list of the state parks for each state, along with the address for the park and a link to google maps. You can access the individual state parks from the state pages.
State Park Facts
According to the National Association of State Park Directors, there were over 807 million visitors who spent time in America’s State Parks. That is a significant number considering it is more than double the entire population of the United States. Our park system is a huge draw for tourism.
Of the visits to state parks, more than 90% of them day time uses. Overnight users of the state parks still represent over 66 million people each year. People are drawn to state parks as outdoor recreation areas. While the parks only represent 2% of the total recreation space in the US, the state park systems claim more than 30% of recreational visitors.
Here are the 2018 Statistics from the State Park Operations AIX
- 8,565 state park areas comprising 18,694,570 acres
- 14,672 trails over 52,603 miles total length
- 221,367 campsites ranging from those with multiple hookups to primitive sites in remote locations
- 8,909 family cabins & cottages; plus 856 group facilities
- 156 lodges in 27 states with 6,483 rooms
- 122 golf courses
- 149 ski slopes
- 304 marinas
- 285 swimming pools
- 392 stable operations
- 807,264,826 annual visitors; 66,769,502 overnight visitors
- 57.4 million campers
- 1.7 million lodge guests
- 4.8 million cabin guests
- 19.2 million campsites nights rented
- Operating expenditures totaling $2.636 billion — less than 50% from the general fund of states
- $755.6 million expended for capital expenditures
- Average share of the state budget — 0.156%
- 18,489 full-time personnel and 51,055 total personnel (including part-time and seasonal)
- Average starting ranger salary — $33,813
What can you do in a state park
So what can you do in a state park? State parks are all about outdoor recreational activities. Here is a quick list of things you can do in state parks:
Camping, hiking, trekking, boating, canoeing, kayaking, rafting, sailing, skiing, snowshoeing, skating, snowboarding, snowmobiling, caving, water sports, water skiing, water jets, scuba diving, snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding, wake board, surfing, windsurfing, spearfishing, running, rock climbing, mountaineering, fishing, RV park camping, resorts, golf courses, biking, ATV, hunting, backpacking, horseback riding, outdoor recreation, picnicking, bird watching, orienteering, and visiting museums.
Why are state parks important
State parks are important for many reasons including economic value to the communities, health benefits to improve the quality of life, environmental protection and preservation of some of America’s most beautiful areas, social connection and the quality of the communities.