The Best State Parks in Each State

Many national parks get a lot of attention as being some of the best locations for landscape photographers. Although national parks present great opportunities for photographers, state parks should not be overlooked. There are many amazing state parks throughout the United States, and you probably won’t need to travel as far to reach several great state parks as you would need to travel to reach a national park.

Here you will find a list of the best state parks in each state. Of course, “best” is a matter of opinion and there are many other awesome state parks aside from those listed here. The selections were made from a photographer’s perspective, not necessarily the best overall parks or those with the most to do.

If you are looking for more great places to photograph near you, please see our state guides for each state.

Alabama: DeSoto State Park

DeSoto State Park is located on Lookout Mountain and features forest, rivers, and beautiful waterfalls. The park is home to the tallest waterfall in the state (DeSoto Falls), although it is in a separate section of the park a few miles from the main park.

See more places to photograph in Alabama.

The Best State Park in Each State

DeSoto State Park by Jody Claborn / Public Domain

Alaska: Chugach State Park

At nearly 500,000 acres, Chugach State Park in Anchorage is one of the largest state parks in the U.S. If features amazing mountain scenery, lakes, shoreline, and more. While there are a lot of great national parks in Alaska, several of them are very remote. Chugach State Park’s proximity to Anchorage makes it much easier to access.

Landscape Legend Lightroom Presets: Save time and get amazing results with our presets! Landscape Legend is the most comprehensive collection of Lightroom presets specifically created for landscape and nature photos. Learn more.

See more places to photograph in Alaska.

The Best State Park in Each State

Chugach State Park by Ian Collins / CC BY-ND 2.0

Arizona: Lost Dutchman State Park

Lost Dutchman State Park is in the Sonoran Desert east of Phoenix. It is a great place to get photographs of the amazing rock formations and desert landscape of Arizona. Great hiking trails and easy access from Phoenix make this park an excellent option.

See more places to photograph in Arizona.

The Best State Park in Each State

Lost Dutchman State Park by Cloud2013 / CC BY 2.0

Arkansas: Petit Jean State Park

Petit Jean State Park is in central Arkansas on top of Petit Jean Mountain. This popular park features beautiful mountain views, the Arkansas River, wildflowers, and Cedar Falls.

See more places to photograph in Arkansas.

The Best State Park in Each State

Cedar Falls by James Tatum / CC BY 2.0

California: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is in the Colorado Desert of southern California. This is a huge park and due to the desert landscape it is not the easiest to travel through, so be sure to plan ahead. There are about 500 miles of rough dirt roads and 100 miles of hiking trails in the park that lead to amazing views.

See more places to photograph in California.

The Best State Park in Each State

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park by Miskatonic / CC BY-SA 3.0

Colorado: Roxborough State Park

South of Denver, Roxborough State Park is home to beautiful red rock formations that are perfect for photographing. The park features great hiking trails, overlooks with outstanding views, and abundant wildlife.

See more places to photograph in Colorado.

HDR Hero Lightroom Presets: Get amazing HDR effects instantly with any photo! Learn more.
The Best State Park in Each State

Roxborough State Park by Montano336 / GNU

Connecticut: Kent Falls State Park

At Kent Falls State Park the Falls Brook drops 250 feet over a series of beautiful cascades that make a great subject for photographs. A trail along the brook provides great views of the cascades.

See more places to photograph in Connecticut.

The Best State Park in Each State

Kent Falls State Park by Jaine / CC BY-ND 2.0

Delaware: Trap Pond State Park

Trap Pond State Park features a landscape that is not typical for this part of the country. The wetlands and baldcypress trees can be photographed from the edge of the pond, or you can take a boat onto the pond to get the best views.

See more places to photograph in Delaware.

The Best State Park in Each State

Trap Pond State Park by Kej605 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Florida: Long Key State Park

Long Key State Park is in the Florida Keys with amazing beach and water views. There is a campground in the park if you want to stay overnight. Long Key was once home to a luxury resort before it was destroyed by a hurricane in 1935.

See more places to photograph in Florida.

The Best State Park in Each State

Long Key State Park by faungg / CC BY-ND 2.0

Georgia: Amicalola Falls State Park

Amicalola Falls State Park is home to Amicalola Falls, a 700-foot cascading waterfall. You can catch an easy view from the bottom or hike up a more challenging trail to reach the top of the falls. The park is also very close to the starting point of the Appalachian Trail.

See more places to photograph in Georgia.

The Best State Park in Each State

Amicalola Falls State Park by Lee Coursey / CC BY 2.0

Hawaii: Nā Pali Coast State Park

Nā Pali Coast State Park features stunning cliffs along the northwest coast of Kaua’i. These beautiful cliffs reach up to 4,000 feet above the ocean. To see the coast you can hike within the park, or take a helicopter or a boat. The hike is about 11 miles and leads you past many other beautiful scenery along the way.

See more places to photograph in Hawaii.

The Best State Park in Each State

Nā Pali Coast State Park by Steve Hedin / CC BY-SA 3.0

Idaho: Bruneau Dunes State Park

Idaho may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of sand dunes, but at Bruneau Dunes State Park that is exactly what you will find. Home to 400-foot sand dunes, this park is a great place for photographers.

See more places to photograph in Idaho.

The Best State Park in Each State

Bruneau Dunes State Park by Charles Knowles / CC BY 2.0

Illinois: Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock State Park is a very popular park that features canyons, cliffs, waterfalls, and river views. The beautiful deep canyons (18 of them) and waterfalls make this an ideal location for photographers.

See more places to photograph in Illinois.

The Best State Park in Each State

Starved Rock State Park by Peter Ciro / CC BY-ND 2.0

Indiana: Clifty Falls State Park

Clifty Falls State Park in southern Indiana features Clifty Creek, Clifty Creek Canyon, and Clifty Falls. Hiking trails provide access to 4 different waterfalls within the park, all over 60-feet in height.

See more places to photograph in Indiana.

The Best State Park in Each State

Clifty Falls State Park by Chris Light / CC BY-SA 3.0

Iowa: Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park features a 500-foot bluff overlooking the Upper Mississippi River. The beautiful river views make it an excellent location for photographers.

See more places to photograph in Iowa.

The Best State Park in Each State

Pikes Peak State Park by Good Free Photos / Public Domain

Kansas: Mushroom Rock State Park

Mushroom Rock State Park in central Kansas features interesting hoodoos and rock formations that are perfect for photographing. This is a very small park (only about 5 acres) but well worth the visit.

See more places to photograph in Kansas.

The Best State Park in Each State

Mushroom Rock State Park by Lane Pearman / CC BY 2.0

Kentucky: Cumberland Falls State Resort Park

Cumberland Falls State Resort Park is in the Daniel Boone National Forest and features the 68-foot Cumberland Falls. What makes this park very unique is that it is one of the few places in the western hemisphere where a moonbow can be seen at night during full moon. In addition to Cumberland Falls, the park is also home to Eagle Falls, a beautiful 40-foot waterfall.

See more places to photograph in Kentucky.

The Best State Park in Each State

Cumberland Falls State Park by David Amsler / CC BY 2.0

Louisiana: Chicot State Park

Chicot State Park is a great place to photograph the unique landscape of Louisiana. The man-made lake is popular for fishing, and the wetlands of the park are unique and beautiful.

See more places to photograph in Louisiana.

The Best State Park in Each State

Chicot State Park by Richard May / CC BY-SA 2.0

Maine: Baxter State Park

Baxter State Park is a wilderness park with no paved roads or modern facilities. For those who are willing to make the effort, hiking and camping in Baxter State Park can provide some amazing photographic opportunities. The park features the highest peak in Maine (Mount Katahdin), abundant wildlife, and plenty of beautiful wilderness.

See more places to photograph in Maine.

The Best State Park in Each State

Baxter State Park by Elizabeth Byrd Wood / CC BY-SA 2.0

Maryland: Swallow Falls State Park

Swallow Falls State Park in western Maryland is home to several waterfalls, including the 50-foot Muddy Creek Falls. You’ll also find old-growth forest, gorges, and the Youghiogheny River.

See more places to photograph in Maryland.

The Best State Park in Each State

Swallow Falls State Park by Nicolas Raymond

Massachusetts: Bash Bish Falls State Park

Bash Bish Falls State Park in the Taconic Mountains of southwest Massachusetts is home to Bash Bish Falls, which cascades for a total drop of nearly 200 feet. The final drop of about 60 feet is split by rocks into twin falls.

See more places to photograph in Massachusetts.

The Best State Park in Each State

Bash Bish Falls by Tom Walsh / CC BY-SA 3.0

Michigan: Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is a beautiful area that includes forest, lakes, and rivers. Because it is a wilderness area, getting around in this large park is not that easy, but well worth the effort.

See more places to photograph in Michigan.

The Best State Park in Each State

Porcupine Mountains State Park by Jim Sorbie / CC BY 2.0

Minnesota: Gooseberry Falls State Park

Gooseberry Falls State Park is one of several Minnesota state parks along the north shore of Lake Superior. This beautiful park features picturesque waterfalls, Lake Superior shorelines, and a river gorge. Many miles of hiking trails make it easy to find interesting photographic opportunities.

See more places to photograph in Minnesota.

The Best State Park in Each State

Gooseberry Falls State Park by Anita Ritenour / CC BY 2.0

Mississippi: Tishomingo State Park

Tishomingo State Park is in northeast Mississippi in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The park features Bear Creek Canyon and beautiful rock outcroppings.

See more places to photograph in Mississippi.

The Best State Park in Each State

Tishomingo State Park by Brad Kebodeaux / CC BY-ND 2.0

Missouri: Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park in southeast Missouri has rocks and river that act as a natural waterpark for many visitors. In addition to recreation, the area is also ideal for photography.

See more places to photograph in Missouri.

The Best State Park in Each State

Johnson’s Shut-Ins State Park by Keith Yahl / CC BY 2.0

Montana: Makoshika State Park

Makoshika State Park is home to dinosaur fossils, but for landscape photographers the beautiful and rugged badlands are likely to be of more interest. Scenic drives and hiking trails make it possible to photograph the badlands.

See more places to photograph in Montana.

The Best State Park in Each State

Makoshika State Park by Larry D. Moore / CC BY-SA 2.0

Nebraska: Fort Robinson State Park

In northwestern Nebraska Fort Robinson State Park features beautiful Pine Ridge scenery.

See more places to photograph in Nebraska.

The Best State Park in Each State

Fort Robinson State Park by Ben Schmitt / CC BY-ND 2.0

Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park

Located only about 50 miles from Las Vegas, Valley of Fire State Park features amazing rock formations and a beautiful, rugged landscape. Valley of Fire Road runs through the park and makes it easy to find plenty of things to photograph.

See more places to photograph in Nevada.

The Best State Park in Each State

Valley of Fire State Park by esudroff / CC0

New Hampshire: Franconia Notch State Park

Franconia Notch State Park is in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. The park includes Cannon Mountain, Flume Gorge, Old Man of the Mountain, lakes, and plenty of hiking trails.

See more places to photograph in New Hampshire.

The Best State Park in Each State

Franconia Notch State Park by Andrew K. Smith / CC BY 2.0

New Jersey: Hacklebarney State Park

Hacklebarney State Park, only about 59 miles west of New York City, features the Black River, boulders, several small waterfalls, and hiking trails that make it possible to explore the area.

See more places to photograph in New Jersey.

The Best State Park in Each State

Hacklebarney State Park by Steven Reynolds / CC BY 2.0

New Mexico: City of Rocks State Park

City of Rocks State Park in southwestern New Mexico features rock formations that reach as high as 40 feet. Hiking trails make it easy to access the area. This is also a great place for night photography thanks to its dark sky.

See more places to photograph in New Mexico.

The Best State Park in Each State

City of Rocks State Park by John Fowler / CC BY 2.0

New York: Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park is consistently recognized as one of the best state parks in the U.S. It features a deep gorge, the Genesse River, and 3 significant waterfalls. The gorge reaches up to 550 feet deep, contributing to the park’s reputation as the “Grand Canyon of the East”. See our Photographer’s Guide to Letchworth State Park for more details.

See more places to photograph in New York.

Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park by Marc Andre

North Carolina: Chimney Rock State Park

Chimney Rock State Park includes the 315-foot Chimney Rock. You can take an elevator to the top and get amazing views of the surrounding area. The park also features other rock formations and a 400-foot waterfall.

See more places to photograph in North Carolina.

The Best State Park in Each State

Chimney Rock by Jmturner / Public Domain

North Dakota: Lake Metigoshe State Park

Lake Metigoshe State Park is in northern North Dakota along the Canadian border in the Turtle Mountains. Here you can photograph the lake and secluded landscape.

See more places to photograph in North Dakota.

The Best State Park in Each State

Lake Metigoshe State Park by Roderick Eime / CC BY 2.0

Ohio: Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park is an amazing park that is separated into a few different units or sections. It features beautiful gorges, rock formations, and waterfalls that make it a great destination for photographers.

See more places to photograph in Ohio.

The Best State Park in Each State

Hocking Hills State Park by J. Todd Poling / CC BY 2.0

Oklahoma: Gloss Mountain State Park

At Gloss Mountain State Park (also known as Glass Mountain State Park) in Oklahoma you will find a beautiful, rugged landscape. Cathedral Mountain is one of the highlights of the park and a great subject for your photos. This park doesn’t include a lot of facilities or development, but it does have a great landscape that is ready to be photographed.

See more places to photograph in Oklahoma.

The Best State Park in Each State

Gloss Mountain State Park by Rachel McBee / CC BY-ND 2.0

Oregon: Silver Falls State Park

Silver Falls State Park is the largest state park in Oregon, but it’s not the size that makes it special. The park includes the 8-mile Canyon Trail that leads you past 10 beautiful waterfalls. If you love photographing waterfalls, Silver Falls State Park should be on your list of places to visit.

See more places to photograph in Oregon.

The Best State Park in Each State

Silver Falls State Park by Ian Sane / CC BY 2.0

Pennsylvania: Ricketts Glen State Park

Ricketts Glen State Park is another park that is home to many waterfalls. There are 24 named waterfalls in the park, along with beautiful old-growth forest and trails for hiking. The Falls Trail Loop, which leads past many of the falls in the park, is known for being an excellent hike.

See more places to photograph in Pennsylvania.

The Best State Park in Each State

Tuscarora Falls at Rickett’s Glen State Park by Mitch / Public Domain

Rhode Island: Beavertail State Park

Beavertail State Park is a small park (153 acres) but features an impressive shoreline and a picturesque lighthouse. You can photograph from one of several overlooks, or get down to the rocky coast for beautiful scenery. See our Guide to Photographing Beavertail State Park.

See more places to photograph in Rhode Island.

The Best State Park in Each State

Beavertail State Park by Gary Brownell / CC BY -SA 2.0

South Carolina: Jones Gap State Park

Jones Gap State Park is a forested mountain wilderness that features the Middle Saluda River, wildflowers, abundant wildlife, many waterfalls, and more than 30 miles of hiking trails for exploring it all.

See more places to photograph in South Carolina.

The Best State Park in Each State

Jones Gap State Park by Scott Oves / CC BY 2.0

South Dakota: Custer State Park

Just a short distance from Mount Rushmore, Custer State Park is known for its beautiful landscape and amazing wildlife. The 18-mile Wildlife Loop will provide plenty of opportunities for viewing and photographing wildlife, and Needles Highway will lead you to beautiful landscapes. See our Guide to Photographing Custer State Park.

See more places to photograph in South Dakota.

The Best State Park in Each State

Custer State Park by Epsota24 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Tennessee: Fall Creek Falls State Park

The most popular state park in Tennessee, Fall Creek Falls features beautiful gorges, waterfalls, and forests. At more than 250 feet, Fall Creek Falls is the largest of the waterfalls, but there are several others worthy of photographing as well.

See more places to photograph in Tennessee.

The Best State Park in Each State

Fall Creek Falls State Park by Michael Hicks / CC BY-ND 2.0

Texas: Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon State Park in the Texas panhandle allows you to photograph the second largest canyon in the U.S. There are plenty of opportunities to hike and photograph the canyon, and some of the area can be seen from the road as well.

See more places to photograph in Texas.

The Best State Park in Each State

Palo Duro Canyon State Park by Meniscus / CC BY-SA 3.0

Utah: Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park is home to a unique and interesting landscape that features thousands of sandstone hoodoos. Hiking trails make it easy to explore and experience this park.

See more places to photograph in Utah.

The Best State Park in Each State

Goblin Valley State Park by Gleb Tarassenko

Vermont: Smugglers’ Notch State Park

Smugglers’ Notch State Park is located in a beautiful mountain setting. During the winter it can only be accessed by snowmobile or skiis. This popular skiing area offers picturesque scenery throughout the year.

See more places to photograph in Vermont.

The Best State Park in Each State

Smugglers’ Notch by Bre LaRow / CC BY 2.0

Virginia: Grayson Highlands State Park

Grayson Highlands State Park in southern Virginia provides beautiful mountain views. The park is also noteworthy for the ponies that live within the park boundaries. There are several different hiking trails that provide access to the views.

See more places to photograph in Virginia.

The Best State Park in Each State

Grayson Highlands State Park by Virginia State Parks / CC BY 2.0

Washington: Palouse Falls State Park

Palouse Falls State Park is a rather small park (105 acres) but provides great photo opportunities of the 200-foot Palouse Falls. Catching a view of the falls is easy from the trail.

See more places to photograph in Washington.

The Best State Park in Each State

Palouse Falls State Park by David Lee / CC BY-SA 2.0

West Virginia: Blackwater Falls State Park

Blackwater Falls State Park is a great place to photograph waterfalls. In addition to the namesake Blackwater Falls, Elakala Falls is a favorite among photographers. There are also great mountain views at Lindy Point and Pendleton Point. See our Photography Guide to Blackwater Falls State Park for details.

See more places to photograph in West Virginia.

Blackwater Falls by Marc Andre

Wisconsin: Willow River State Park

In Western Wisconsin, Willow River State Park is home to Willow Falls, a cascading waterfall surrounded by a beautiful gorge. The Willow River, gorge, waterfalls, and Little Falls Lake make it a popular park.

See more places to photograph in Wisconsin.

The Best State Park in Each State

Willow River State Park by Andrew E. Larsen / CC BY-ND 2.0

Wyoming: Sinks Canyon State Park

Sinks Canyon State Park features a rugged canyon and an interesting natural phenomenon. The river disappears into an underground cavern called “the Sinks” and emerges 1/4 mile away in “the Rise”.

See more places to photograph in Wyoming.

The Best State Park in Each State

Sinks Canyon State Park by Brian Harms / CC BY-SA 2.0

The Best State Parks in Each State

Photo license links: CC BY 2.0, CC BY 3.0CC BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 2.0, CC0

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):