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Jared Kennedy | 06.09.2016

National parks get all the attention, and state parks seem to get overlooked by their bigger cousins. But you usually don't have to go too far from a major city to find some spectacular state parks that will leave you in awe.

While every state has a different approach to how they manage their parks, most state parks have nicely developed campgrounds to accompany the hiking trails, incredible views and other recreational opportunities they provide, and dogs are almost always allowed to come along.

These 20 state parks in the western U.S. are places all lovers of outdoor adventure should visit in their lifetime.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, CA

California's largest State Park, it has over 110 miles of trails in a desert ecosystem. Bring lots of water.

Calaveras Big Trees State Park, CA

Hike through huge redwood groves along the North Fork of the Stanislaus River.

Sugar Pine Point State Park, CA

Enjoy miles of beaches and explore a historic lakefront mansion on the shore of Lake Tahoe.

Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, CA

See Big Sur at its most iconic point, McWay Falls, and hike the surrounding trails and beaches.

South Yuba River State Park, CA

Find the perfect swimming hole along the Yuba River, or hike the trails that run through this large state park.

Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, CA

One of many places in Northern California to hike through massive old-growth coast redwoods, Jedediah Smith has over 10,000 acres to explore.

Palomar Mountain State Park, CA

Hike to one of the highest points in San Diego county. Come in the spring for more wildlife and wildflower blooms.

White River Falls State Park, OR

Visit one of Oregon's most beautiful waterfalls, and explore the now defunct hydropower plant that was closed in 1960.

Silver Falls State Park, OR

Oregon's largest state park has 24 miles of hiking trails and is home to the second largest concentration of waterfalls in the state after the Columbia River Gorge.

Smith Rock State Park, OR

Join rock climbers from around the world at this renowned climbing spot, or hike one of the many trails with great views of the Crooked River below.

Fort Stevens State Park, OR

A trip to the Oregon Coast isn't complete without visiting the 1906 shipwreck of the Peter Iredale.

Ecola State Park, OR

Follow in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark through a forest of massive Sitka spruce with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean. 

Cottonwood Canyon State Park, OR

Walk through deep canyons or fish the John Day River at one of Oregon's newest state parks.

Palouse Falls State Park, WA

See one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Pacific Northwest. The 198-foot waterfall plunges into a huge basalt basin.

Matia Island State Park, WA

Get up close to harbor seals away from the ferry lines in the Puget Sound. Sea-kayak to get here from nearby Sucia or Orcas Island. 

Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park, NV

Explore an old silver and gold mine and then see an amazing collection of Ichthyosaur fossils, the large reptiles that once swam the inland sea that is now Nevada.

Castle Rocks State Park, ID

Climb at one of Idaho's best rock climbing areas. Chances are it will be a lot less crowded than crags in more populated western states.

Rifle Falls State Park, CO

Walk behind and beneath waterfalls in this small green oasis in northwest Colorado.

Sylvan Lake State Park, CO

Relax along the shores or by paddling in Sylvan Lake, or hike on the many trails that wind through and leave from the state park.

Eldorado Canyon State Park, CO

Climb at Boulder's world-renowned climbing spot, or explore the more undeveloped sections of the large state park.

These are just some of our favorites, but we would love to hear about yours! Comment below with more incredible Western state parks to add to the list.


After spending two summers exploring the national parks and monuments of the Great Circle Route in northern Arizona and southern Utah, its hard to believe that none of the outstanding state parks of Utah are included in this list of 30!

Les Taylor
How did you miss Kodachrome State Park in Utah?

Got lots in Oregon and Washington and some for me to explore in Idaho.
Of course, Utah gets skipped right over. *smh*
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