The United States has so much to offer in the way of state parks, and so many. In the United States alone, there are 10,234 state parks. But which ones are the best?
These are the five top-rated state parks as of 2019. The methodology behind the choosing of the state parks is as follows: a Google search was performed for “top-rated state parks in the United States.” The parks for this article were then ranked by star ratings and Google reviews.
Along with the ratings, the highest and lowest review was listed. Joke reviews were left out. Now, on to the top five parks!
#1 – Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve in Juneau, AK
Rating on Google reviews: 4.9 out of 5.0 (out of 1,401 ratings and reviews)
Most of Alaska is teeming with wildlife. This is where you can have moose fighting in your front yard. It is also home to Glacier Bay National Park and Reserve, established in 1980 and spanning 3.3 million acres.
It is one of the largest internationally protected Biosphere Reserves in the world and is recognized by the U.N. as a World Heritage site.
The park is open from May to September. Exhibits are open for 24 hours, while the information desk and Alaska Geographic bookstore is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and from 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. Visitors can see animals including puffins, bears, eagles, and whales along with glaciers, fjords, and salmon streams.
Highest review (5 stars): “Beautiful and peaceful. The glaciers were amazing. From a cruise ship, Marjorie was the best. From a smaller boat, I’m sure others would be equally amazed. Saw several whales, many sea otters, mountain goats and quite a few seals. Highly recommended.”
Lowest review (2 stars): “Not great. Disappointed due to weather and missing the calving.”
#2 – Grand Canyon National Park in AZ
Rating on Google reviews: 4.8 out of 5.0 (out of 35,589 ratings and reviews)
The Grand Canyon National Park was established in 1919 but is the development of many years of geological history and was the 15th site in the United States to be named a national park. It spans an impressive 1.2 million acres.
It consists of the South Rim (accessible all year round), the North Rim (open from May 15th through October 15th) and the West Rim.
Highest review (5 stars): “The Grand Canyon is a must see. We spent 4 days and it wasn’t long enough! It’s gorgeous. I can’t say enough about the beauty and majesty of this place. It is a humbling and awe inspiring natural wonder…The rim trail is a must do. Make time to watch sunset from a viewpoint along the red bus line, and drive out to the desert watchtower.”
Lowest review (1 star): “Don’t go in mid-November or winter. It was already on the cool side, winds picked up and we very nearly frozen to death. You can’t drive your car past the visitor’s center; then you cram on shuttles with about 40 people. When the bitter, shivering cold wind picked up, they couldn’t shuttle all the people off fast enough…you waited, freezing to death, 20 minutes between shuttles…They need large wind-break enclosures at the shuttle stops. Need more shuttles…the lines and waits rival Disneyland…It spoils what is otherwise a spectacular, must-see, stunningly beautiful place.”
#3 – Niagara Falls State Park in NY
Rating on Google reviews: 4.8 out of 5.0 (out of 34,399 reviews)
If you can’t get over to the Canadian side to view the Falls, it is worth it to go to Niagara Falls State Park in New York, and view these stunning falls in all their majesty from the American side. Niagara Falls State Park is America’s Oldest State Park, built in 1885 and spanning 435 acres.
You can visit such areas as the Cave of the Winds or take a ride on the Maid of the Mist. The best thing about the park is that it’s open 24 hours a day and has multiple vantage points for viewing the Falls.
Highest review (5 stars): “Had an amazing time. Niagara Falls is so beautiful and fun for the whole family. We did a tour with Grey Line and we are glad we did it. Our tour guide, Art was amazing and very informative. The traffic was not great so we are glad we took the tour…With our tour price of $110 pp we got to see everything not a bad deal. Definitely make hotel reservation in advance as the hotels book up fast. We ended up staying in Buffalo, NY because we could not find a hotel closer for less than $350 due to the holiday weekend and not making reservations ahead of time. Hope you enjoy you will not be disappointed.”
Lowest review (1 star): “I’ve no doubt this is a fantastic park on most days. However in winter the sidewalk ices over and they close the overlooks. Go when the weather is nice.”
#4 – Yosemite National Park in CA
Rating on Google reviews: 4.8 out of 5.0 (out of 23,633 ratings and reviews)
Located in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, Yosemite National Park was established in 1890 and spans 1,200 square miles.
Camping is a popular activity in Yosemite National Park where you are able to see Yosemite’s beautiful ancient sequoias and waterfalls, along with Tunnel View, Bridalveil fall, and the cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. The park is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but from November to May, some roads are closed due to snow. Be sure to plan accordingly.
Highest review (5 stars): “Went the weekend before Memorial Day. Raining going there on Friday. Saturday was spectacular and rain seemed to keep the heavy amount of visitors away! Found easy parking with RV. All waterfalls were spectacular, especially Yosemite Falls. Happy heart here!”
Lowest review (1 star): “With all due respect to National Parks..on a 3 month excursion of California this was by far the worst experience I had in CA. and in a Natl. Park..bumper to bumper traffic in all areas, did not get to hike, or even get in a visitors center… and we went in the middle of the week in off season.”
#5 –Yellowstone National Park in ID, WY, and MT
Rating on Google reviews: 4.8 out of 5.0 (out of 19,838 ratings and reviews)
Yellowstone National Park, the nation’s first national park was established in 1872. It spans 3,500 square acres and three states: Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana.
You are able to see not only the most famous part of Yellowstone, Old Faithful, but also abundant wildlife such as “300 species of birds, 16 species of fish, five species of amphibians, six species of reptiles, and 67 species of mammals” free roaming around the park, according to the official website.
Various spots of the park are open all year. Check this calendar for specific dates.
Highest review (5 stars): “Yellowstone is magnificent. There are no words, no pictures, no videos, that give this place justice…We went mid May 2019 and stayed for a week. On our second day we were in Lamar Valley and saw a pack of wolves stalking a small herd of Bison and their calves. On our third day we saw a lone wolf and two coyotes stalking a Pronghorn along the Lamar River…We saw a Grizzly Bear guarding and feeding on a carcass and we also saw some Moose and of course the stoic Bison…We absolutely will go back and I would recommend that everyone experience Yellowstone at least one time in their life.”
Lowest review (1 star): “Stunning natural features. The one star rating is for the traffic. If you are driving through this park and a line of cars is behind you by all means pull over and let them pass. That is what the signs mean by slower traffic use pullouts.”
You can choose a park by the ratings, or you can choose a park based on specific criteria that’s most important to you. In the end, it’s whether you enjoy the destination, the nature, and the scenery. Make sure while you’re traveling to your destination, however, that your car insurance is up to date, and that it covers you where you will be driving.
Bio: Brandy Clark is a freelance copywriter at autoinsurance.org and likes to write horror for fun at https://nofspodcast.com/author/brandy-clark/. When it comes to horror, the best horror movie is John Carpenter’s The Thing. She resides in Missouri with her two dogs, Layla and Hayley. Out of the state parks on this list, she has been to Niagara Falls and can attest to how beautiful it is.