Visiting a state park in the United States is a great way to spend a vacation with family and friends. In the US we are spoilt for choice with over 10,000 state park units to choose from. Four hundred of these are registered national parks, which are available throughout the year. Every park offers a unique scenic beauty as well as numerous outdoor activities. You can take your family camping for a week or out for an active day excursion.
The national parks that usually charge an entrance fee offer free entrance, for everyone, on five days of the year. These are the entrance fee-free days:
- January 21: Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.
- April 20: First day of National Park Week
- August 25: National Park Service Birthday
- September 28: National Public Lands Day
- September 11: Veterans Day
For the rest of the year, the day rates of these parks vary. For US citizens, an annual pass for adults is $80; however, admission is free for children of 15 years and under, the disabled and the military. An annual pass is $20 if you’re 62-years and over. Other state parks are free throughout the year.
If you’re camping it’s best to book online, but if you’re only stopping by for the day, you can pay at the entrance. Campsites are usually around $15/ night. The money that you spend will go towards preserving these natural treasures.
Make the most of a variety of outdoor activities
These are some of the outdoor activities that you can take part in when visiting a state park:
- Camping/ Glamping: There are different styles of camping. Some people prefer tents while others opt for cabins.
- Cycling/ Biking
- Canopy courses
- Hiking on well-maintained trails
- Horseback riding
- Rock climbing
- Tracking wolves in Yellow Stone
- For the less adventurous, and those trying out this type of holiday for the first time, you can organize trips led by seasonal guides. Try Natural Habitat’s exhibition leaders in order to feel more confident and comfortable in the great outdoors.
A state park can be very educational. Learn about the importance of conserving these beautiful areas which are currently facing problems like deforestation, development, climate change etc. You can also teach your kids about an abundance of wildlife, national historic landmarks and ancient archaeological sites within a state park.
For an alternative to kid’s summer camps, try another form of outdoorsy fun and make lasting family memories on an “intergenerational camp” or family summer camp. These are affordable and well organized.
Take time out from the big smoke
Be captivated by exquisite views and scenery. Feast your eyes on beautiful lakes, mountains, waterfalls and other natural gems. Each state park holds its own flavor. Take a deep breath of oxygen-rich air, and exhale all that city stress. Take a break from technology and electronics, switch off your phones and reconnect with authentic nature. You will be refreshed mentally and physically by the tranquillity of nature.