Forest clearing with cliffs in background

Top 10 Best State Parks in the Western United States

All across the American West, there are amazing, beautiful, historical state parks that everyone can enjoy, but deciding among all of them can be tough. Before you start marking parks off the list, here are the top 10 best state parks in the Western United States.

  1. Eldorado Canyon State Park, Colorado
    Nestled in Boulder County, Colorado, there is the beautiful Eldorado Canyon State Park. It’s comprised of two areas: Inner Canyon and Crescent Meadows. If you’re looking for something exhilarating, this park has the best rock climbing areas in the country. For something more family friendly, there are over 11 miles of hiking/biking trails, picnic areas, and fishing.
  2. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California
    Near the bottom of California, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park has beautiful scenery that will take your breath away. The park is also host to more than 100 total species of birds and mammals, including bighorn sheep. Additionally, this gem has cultural and historical importance as it was the home of three Native American tribes for thousands of years. You can still see the pictographs on the cave walls! 
  3. Denali State Park, Alaska
    Alaska may be far away, but Denali State Park (located in Trapper Creek) is one of the most beautiful locations in the world. On crisp, clear days, you can see the snow-capped mountains and catch sight of the various wildlife that calls this place home, such as the lynx, red fox, snowshoe hare, land otter, red squirrel, and so much more. 
  4. Slide Rock State Park, Arizona
    Located in Sedona, Arizona, Slide Rock State Park has been called one of “America’s Top 10 Swimming Holes” for it’s “picturesque desert waterfalls” according to USA Today. It’s truly a sight to behold and admire, but that isn’t all—you can also hike, fish, or just watch wildlife.  
  5. Silver Falls State Park, Oregon
    Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, Oregon, has some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the country. Not only can you see the falls, but you can also walk behind them. With a 177-foot curtain, South Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the park. There are also hiking opportunities, horse trails, swimming, wildlife viewing, and camping. 
  6. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada
    Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada may not sound like a beautiful place to go, but it’s one of the oldest and largest state parks in America. The name comes from the red sandstone that created incredible formations all over the park. Valley of Fire also has 3,000-year-old Native American petroglyphs plus much more to offer. Admire the world around you as you hike or just camp and view the formations. 
  7. Flaming Geyser State Park, Washington
    In Auburn, Washington, Flaming Geyser State Park is unique. It’s one of the few parks with a natural methane gas pocket 1,000 feet below the surface. Because of this pocket, a flame lit by miners in the 1900s still burns bright. There are also geysers that shoot water and flames 25 feet into the air. The same methane gas pocket has also created a “bubbling geyser” as gas seeps through the mud. Both attractions are accessible by a short hike. 
  8. Elephant Butte Lake State Park, New Mexico
    The name may make children giggle, but your family will love this park. Located in Elephant Butte, New Mexico, this state park is one of the biggest parks and reservoirs in New Mexico. If you love the beach, New Mexico has plenty of room for everyone. There are even opportunities for watersports such as kayaking, jet skiing, sailboating, ski boating, and more. Elephant Butte Lake State Park also has fishing, hiking, and WiFi. 
  9. Anasazi State Park, Utah
    Located in Boulder, Utah, Anasazi State Park is one of the greatest archaeological sites in the Western United States. Said to have been occupied by Native Americans from 1160 A.D. to 1235 A.D., this location is one of the largest known Anasazi communities west of the Colorado River. Take in the history of the land and admire the structures that were built by some of the first true Americans. 
  10. Badlands National Park, South Dakota
    Badlands National Park inarguably has one of the best names of all time. The rugged mountains of this national park will leave you speechless. It has more than beauty—it’s also one of the largest fossil deposits in the world. Ancient horses, rhinos, and saber-toothed cats roamed the park, and today you can find big-horned sheep, bison, prairie dogs, and black-footed ferrets. Enjoy hiking, educational shows, and so much more at Badlands National Park. 
Last Updated: March 14, 2016