A Guide to Your State Parks

Kodachrome Basin State Park Utah

Kodachrome Basin State Park Utah

There are a lot of state parks in the U.S. and every one of them offers some great excuses to get out and explore.  If you are new to an area it can sometimes be difficult to find nearby state parks and what they offer.  If your goal is to explore the U.S. the many state parks can add a whole new layer to your adventure.  To make it easy for you,  we have searched far and wide to find guides to state parks that can help you get outdoors.

Information Sources

All of the states have websites packed with park information.

Alaska

Denali State Park Alaska

Twenty-six of the states now have an official app developed by Pocket Ranger to provide you with the information you need without requiring you to carry a guide book.  Pocket Ranger also has unofficial guides to a few more states.  The easiest way to get these apps is to go to your phone’s app store and search for the name of your state followed by “park guide.”

A few states still have paper magazines that provide information about their parks.

Links to State Park Information

In our list below,  the state name is linked to the state park website.  The links to the Pocket Ranger Apps take you to the Pocket Ranger website where you can get a link to download the app.  Other links lead you to other ways to learn about your state parks.

  • Alabama  offers a nice home page with photos linked to each of their parks.  Once you get to a park page, you will find a map. There is also an interactive map.  With this map you need to uncheck all the layers except “State Parks” then click on the park of interest.  It will then provide a link to the park page on their website.  They also offer the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Alaska offers a map.  Click on it to zoom into smaller part of the state, then click on a star to get more information about particular attractions.
  • Arizona
    Slide Rock State Park Arizona

    Slide Rock State Park Arizona

    offers a lot of information on their website, but you’ll have to pick up a paper copy of their information magazine after you get there.  They won’t mail you one due to their limited budget.

  • Arkansas will mail you a paper guide or you can flip though it online.
  • California has an online index to their parks to help you find one near you.  They also offer a magazine you can download in PDF format.
  • Colorado offers a “park finder” on their website.
  • Connecticut offers ways to find parks by name, on a map (didn’t work for us) and by activity.  They also offer the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Delaware offers an index to their parks, an online reservation system and a monthly e-newsletter.  They also offer the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Florida allows you to search for a park by name, or bring up regional maps from which you can choose a park.  They also offer various e-newsletters and the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Georgia has a state map showing the locations of their parks.  However, if you click on a park location you only get the park’s name and address and not a direct link to a page about the park.  Once you get the park name, you can scan down the list to the right and in a couple of clicks get to the park page.  The have an online reservation system and the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Hawai’i lets you choose your island then offers either a map or a list of parks that you can click to get to the park page.  They also have a list of brochures that you can download.
  • Harriman State Park Idaho

    Harriman State Park Idaho

    Idaho offers a map and list, either of which you can click to get to the web page of a specific park.  It’s not as fancy as some of the other states, but it works!

  • Illinois has a map and list to get you to a park of interest.  Beware, clicking on the map opens a larger version in a new window.  You need to find the park name on the map, then click in the list on the right to get to the park information.  Each park page has photos, a video and a site map you can download.
  • Indiana has a directory list of parks and an interactive map.  Clicking a park on the map pops up information about the park with a link to the park’s web page.
  • Iowa provides a list of parks that links to park pages, but no state map to give you an idea where each park is located.  Each park has a downloadable brochure and the Pocket Ranger App is available.
  • Kansas has  a state map and a list of parks, both take you to individual park pages. They also offer a lot of brochures and other publications you can download as well as the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Kentucky lets you look for a park on a list, search based upon certain criteria or select from an interactive map.They also have downloadable maps and brochures, a reservation system and the Pocket Ranger App. This is one of the best state park websites.
  • Louisiana has a map linked to park web pages, an online reservation system and the Pocket Ranger App.  Each park page also has a “Nearby Attractions” list that can help you plan an extended adventure.
  • Maine offers several ways to find a park to visit including a list, via distance from a town you can select from a list or by region, activity or type of facility.  Further, you can combine all these searches to get to specific parks that meet your needs.  The search provides a list of parks with links to their park web pages.  They also have the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Maryland Natural Resources MagazineMaryland has a simple, clickable, map that takes you directly to information about the park of your choice.  The state also offers a variety of trail guides, maps and other information that can be purchased at their official Outdoor Store.
  • Massachusetts lets you search out parks with an activity search engine or using their regional list of parks.  Unfortunately, there is no map depicting where the regions are located, but their names (Boston, North, South, Central and West) help. They also offer the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Michigan offers a nice search system with either site lists or a map, but once you get to the web page about a particular park, there is almost no information. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation has a different parks website with that can help you narrow a list of parks, although not geographically.  It has photos of the parks, but, again, not much information.
  • Minnesota has a clickable map that pops up a link that takes you to the park’s web page.  They also offer an online reservation system.  The park pages also link to a “things to do at the park” or “tell me more” page with more detailed information for your visit.
  • Mississippi’s park website opens with a clean map to click that takes you directly to the individual park page.  Besides all the details about the specific park,  there is also a list of area attractions, with links, so you can learn more.
  • Swanson Reservoir State Recreation Area Nebraska

    Swanson Reservoir
    State Recreation Area
    Nebraska

    Missouri has an interesting search system that lets you narrow the parks that meet your criteria.  They are listed in the right column and you can click on the links to get to the individual park pages.  One of the sort criteria is “region” and there is a little map that shows the regions, without naming them.  Clicking on a region of the map looks like it should activate that particular region, but it doesn’t seem to do anything.  Once you get to the individual park page, it looks like there isn’t much information, but there are several links that take you to everything you need to know.  They also offer the Pocket Ranger App.

  • Montana has a clickable map on its home page that takes you right to the park of your choice.  The information on each park is exhaustive and helpful and there is an online reservation system.  The Pocket Ranger App is also available.
  • Nebraska’s home page might suggest they only have eight parks, but a click on the park finder will bring up a map showing many more.  Click an icon on the map to open a pop-up with a link to the park information page.  They offer information, lots of photos, the opportunity to make an online reservation and get the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Nevada offers a list, a list by region  and a clickable map showing the parks.  The individual park pages have lots of photos and all the information you need.
  • Filemore Glen State Park New York

    Fillmore Glen State Park
    New York

    New Hampshire’s park finder lets you search by amenity or activity, but you need to scroll down the home page to find a link to a clickable map that will also get you to the individual park pages. They have a lot of photos and information as well as downloadable brochures and maps. They also have the Pocket Ranger App.

  • New Jersey helps you find parks from a list, by activity and by regional location maps.  The maps aren’t clickable, but they have index letters that associate with a list of links so you can easily get to the detailed information about a park of your choice.  The information seems limited, but they do offer the Pocket Ranger App.
  • New Mexico has a clickable map that takes you right to the park information you need although it is not very detailed  You can also make campsite reservations online.
  • New York offers an online park book.  To get individual park information, you choose a region then select a park from the clickable map.  The park description pages have links to more information including downloadable maps. They also have an online reservation system.
  • North Carolina lets you find a park from a map or list.  Each description page has links to all the details you need including downloadable fact sheets and maps.  The Pocket Ranger App is also available.
  • Ft Rock State Natural Area - Oregon

    Fort Rock State Natural Area
    Oregon

    North Dakota has what looks like a clickable map on it’s home page, but it isn’t.  Find the State Parks menu and there you’ll find a clickable map that pop-ups some information and a link to the individual park pages.  Each page has links to more information including maps, events and a photo album.

  • Ohio‘s website was broken when we visited. That leaves the Pocket Ranger App, for now.
  • Oklahoma has a query system that helps you select parks to visit.  You can choose from activities, lodging type, amenities, and, uniquely, particular highways.  For each park they offer detailed information including downloadable maps.
  • Oregon offers a park guide that you can download in PDF format or have a paper version mailed to you. Their “find a park” system lets you choose from activities or facilities or click on a map.
  • Pennsylvania lets you choose a park from a list or map.  Each park has downloadable maps and other materials plus, they offer the Pocket Ranger App.
  • Rhode Island has only 13 state parks so they are provided in a list on the website.  Each park page offers the typical information.  The Pocket Ranger app is available.
  • Aztalan State Park Wisconsin

    Aztalan State Park Wisconsin

    South Carolina has a park finder that lets you choose from a list or a map.  A downloadable State Park reference guide is available and each park has a downloadable map and brochure.  Some of the parks have short explanatory videos.

  • South Dakota lets you pick a park from a map.  Each park page offers the typical information plus downloadable maps and guides. The Pocket Ranger App is also available.
  • Tennessee offers a brochure that discusses all their parks.   Their park finder includes both an interactive map and a list to help you find a particular park. Each park has a downloadable map and brochure and the Pocket Ranger app is available.
  • Texas lets you find a park, by name, activity or nearby city as well as on a map.  Many of the parks have downloadable maps and some let you download KMZ files for use with Google Earth.
  • Utah provides a list of parks.  To get a map you need to select an activity, like camping, and you will get a map showing parks that allow camping.  Then you can click on the map to get further information.  You can reserve camp sites online and the Pocket Ranger App is available.
  • Camels Hump State Park Vermont

    Camel’s Hump State Park Vermont

    Vermont lets you choose a park from a list, from a map or by amenities that are available.  Some parks have downloadable maps and brochures and they have their own app called “Oh, Ranger! VT State Parks” that is available from iTunes or Google Play.

  • Virginia lets you find a park from a list or map.  The parks have downloadable maps and brochures and reservations can be made online.  They offer the Pocket Ranger app.
  • Washington has a list of parks by region.  There is a clickable map associated with each region that will get you to a park of interest.  They offer the Pocket Ranger app. Unlike any other state, Washington sells advertising on its website.
  • West Virginia offers an interactive map that gets you to parks of interest.  Each park has an independent website so they all look different and have different levels of quality.  The main website has videos of some of the parks, although they are not formats normally associated with internet use.  Downloadable brochures are also available.
  • Wisconsin lets you easily find parks of interest.  Some parks have downloadable audio tour guides and videos.  The Pocket Ranger app is also available.
  • Wyoming lets you find a park by name, by amenity, by activity, by the nearest city by body of water and on a map.  Unfortunately the map is not interactive so it;s necessary to find a park on the map then choose it for a list to get the details.  The parks have downloadable maps and brochures.  Some have videos and webcams.  They also offer the Pocket Ranger app.

Using the Information

If you happen to be touring the United States by train, bus or automobile, you can first layout your general route, identify the states you will be crossing then use the websites listed above to find great state parks along your route.  Many even offer online reservations if you’d like to plan that tightly.  There are many parks to choose from, but don’t be too concerned in your selections, any park you choose to visit will offer a unique glimpse into the country and the people of the U.S.  It helps to know as much as you can about the parks you visit so, as you narrow down your adventure, be sure to get whatever maps and brochures might be available.

Credits

The photos are courtesy of the states noted.

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