A serene cove at Point Lobos State Park shows the lure of this Central Coast park.
We're for states' rights—the right to declare that state parks can be as beautiful and as much fun to visit as national parks. Our selection reflects the variety of those in the West.
Antelope Island State Park Utah, (801) 773-2941. Float like a cork off the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. Enjoy two-mile-long Bridger Bay Beach with oolite—smooth, round grains of sand—and the island's herd of bison and migrating birds.
Blake Island State Park Wash., (360) 731-8330. No man is an island, but this 475-acre park between Vashon and Bainbridge islands is, with clean beaches and views of the Olympics and the Seattle skyline.
Chugach State Park Alaska, (907) 269-8400. Ask Dr. Dolittle along to this behemoth of mountains, lakes, and glaciers, where you might encounter moose, wolves, bears, and eagles, and do anything from fishing to dog mushing.
Guy Talbot State Park Ore., (800) 551-6949. Get ready to waterfall in love. Many of Oregon's remarkable high falls are in state parks, such as Guy Talbot's 249-foot-high Latourell Falls.
Harriman State Park Idaho, (208) 558-7368. Those who know their dead drift from their slow retrieve flock to Henry's Fork of the Snake River for some of the best fly-fishing in the world.
Hot Springs State Park Wyo., (307) 864-2176. Chill out in the home of the "world's largest mineral hot springs." The 127ºF water of Big Horn Hot Spring is channeled into water parks with pool slides, saunas, Jacuzzis, steam rooms.
Na Pali Coast State Park Hawaii, (808) 274-3444. Hands—and leis—down, Kauai's Kalalau Trail is one of the most magical hikes, lifting you above sea cliffs to a coast otherwise unreachable by land.
Point Lobos State Reserve Calif., (831) 624-4909. A beautiful juncture of land and water, it attracts divers and hikers to its jumble of headlands, coves, and meadows, with wildlife from sea lions to whales.
Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park Calif., (707) 464-6101 ext. 5301. Old-growth majesties rule this 14,000-acre sanctuary of coast redwoods.
Valley of Fire State Park Nev., (702) 397-2088. Nevada's oldest state park offers flaming red sandstone formations, wood as petrified as a poker chip, and petroglyphs as old as the Sphinx.
Photography courtesy of Urban/Wikimedia Commons
This article was first published in September 2001. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.