Plan the Perfect Summer Road Trip with These Amazing State Parks in All 50 States

State parks can be a hidden gem for outdoor enthusiasts. Even better, they usually aren’t as busy as national parks.

Amazing State Parks in All 50 States
Updated May 13, 2024
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The National Park Service states that more than 300 million people visit more than 400 national park areas in the U.S. each year. Because summer is typically a prime time for travel, it makes sense that parks start to fill up during these warmer months.

However, with concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, national parks may be even harder to access than usual. Phased reopenings have already started to take place in many popular locations, such as Arches, Yellowstone, and Yosemite National Parks. These phased reopenings could include limitations on daily visitors, parking permits, and/or camping permits.

Yet the parks are still expected to be crowded. A recent FinanceBuzz summer travel survey found that 27% of travelers will take a road trip instead of flying this year. Because national parks provide an ideal road trip destination, it’s safe to say they’ll be popular in the coming months.

If you don’t want to take a chance on crowded national parks this summer, we would recommend visiting one of more than 8,000 state park areas instead. State parks are often underrated destinations, but they can provide wonderful opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Here, we’ve put together a list of incredible state parks you can find in all 50 states.

Alabama: Gulf State Park

Alabama: Gulf State Park

Located along the southern coastline of Alabama, Gulf State Park provides a beautiful escape to the seashore and nearby lakes. Use the in-park camping and full hookup RV sites as your base camp for hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, and canoeing. Or stay in one of the cottages or cabins found around the park. With more than 3.5 miles of white sand beaches and 28 miles of paved trails or boardwalks, there’s plenty of space to spread out and enjoy yourself.

Alaska: Chugach State Park

Alaska is rife with outdoor paradises to explore, and Chugach State Park should be at the top of your list if you’re in the area. Slightly east of Anchorage, this 495,000-acre park is one of the four largest state parks in the U.S.

You can catch the Flattop Mountain shuttle from downtown Anchorage or use your own car to arrive at the park. Campgrounds, RV sites, and public-use cabins are available in different locations around the park, which makes it easy to explore at your own pace. Chugach has plenty of wildlife, so keep your camera handy for marmots, lynx, bears, moose, and more.

Arizona: Red Rock State Park

Red Rock State Park in Arizona offers a classic Southwestern outdoor experience for visitors around Sedona. The beautiful red rocks and local wildlife can be viewed and enjoyed as you hike the 5-mile trail network around the park.

You can arrive at this 286-acre park in less than 20 minutes driving from downtown Sedona, which makes it a convenient pitstop if you’re in the area. Nearby attractions include Slide Rock State Park, Oak Creek Canyon, Coconino National Forest, and Prescott National Forest.

Arkansas: Petit Jean State Park

Arkansas: Petit Jean State Park

As the first state park of Arkansas, Petit Jean State Park has a rich history that spans decades. It’s located west of Conway, Arkansas, and just south of the Arkansas River. Visitors to the 3,471-acre park can stay in guest rooms at Mather Lodge, in nearby cabins, or in designated camping areas. There are more than 20 miles of hiking trails that traverse the park, including overlooks of the Arkansas River Valley and the beautiful 95-foot Cedar Falls.

California: Crystal Cove State Park

For a break from the busy cities of Orange County, you might consider a visit to the nearby Crystal Cove State Park. Within 30 minutes driving distance of Anaheim, this picturesque park offers a wide variety of activities. You can swim and enjoy yourself on the beach or hike through 2,400 acres of California wilderness along 18 miles of trails. Campsites are available, including RV sites. You can also take advantage of the hike-in primitive campsites found within the park.

Colorado: Eldorado Canyon State Park

The dog-friendly Eldorado Canyon State Park is found about 10 miles south of Boulder in prime rock-climbing country. There are more than 500 technical climbing routes available that consistently attract climbers from around the world. Biking, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, and picnicking are all welcomed and encouraged activities within the park. Nature enthusiasts can enjoy viewing mule deer, elk, black bear, bobcat, red fox, and more as they explore the park.

Connecticut: Sherwood Island State Park

Within the borders of Westport, Connecticut, lies the coastal-based Sherwood Island State Park. Designated as the first state park in Connecticut, Sherwood Island is in an ideal location for visitors to sit back and enjoy the views of Long Island Sound. You can fish and swim along the beach areas, try out the disc golf course, or take a relaxing walk on the nature trails.

Delaware: Lums Pond State Park

Delaware: Lums Pond State Park

Within 20 miles of Wilmington and a stone’s throw away from the Maryland border, Lums Pond State Park has something for everyone. Go boating, fishing, and kayaking in Lums Pond or even try zip lining across the pond. Camping is available, so you can make use of the trails, disc golf course, and sports areas at your own speed. And don’t worry, there’s also an off-leash dog area for your furry friends.

Florida: Anastasia State Park

There are more than 1,600 acres of white sand beaches, tidal marshes, and sand dunes at Anastasia State Park — and it’s all in the area of St. Augustine, Florida. The famous Florida coastline is the perfect backdrop for all types of activities.

You can swim, surf, fish, boat, and more while you enjoy the idyllic atmosphere. Keep an eye out for birds and other wildlife, including great blue heron, bald eagles, dolphins, and manatees. And camping is allowed, so set up your spot and spend some time in this outdoor wonderland.

Georgia: Tallulah Gorge State Park

If 1,000-ft gorges and nearly 3,000 acres of scenic views are your thing, you should check out Tallulah Gorge State Park. Located in Northern Georgia, close to the Tennessee border, you can get to this park on a day trip from Atlanta.

There’s a 63-acre lake for fishing and swimming, plus 20 miles of hiking trails to enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Hiking to the gorge floor requires a permit, though the best views may be from the suspension bridge spanning the gorge. Reserve your campsites early because space is limited.

Hawaii: Kokee State Park

Hawaii: Kokee State Park

The island of Kauai has no shortage of places to explore, but you should definitely look into Kokee State Park. For expansive green landscapes, Kokee State Park doesn’t disappoint. Bask in the scenery as you hike the trails and make use of tent campsites. Lookouts along the trails give you great views of this ancient land.

You can also hit up Waimea Canyon State Park on the way as you journey to the west side of the island, just more than an hour’s drive from Lihue Airport.

Idaho: Bruneau Dunes State Park

Bruneau Dunes State Park is a 4,800-acre area of beautiful sand dunes located between Boise and Twin Falls, Idaho. To complete the desert environment, there’s a lake at the bottom of the dunes that provides a true oasis feel. If you want a unique experience, try renting a board for sandboarding on the dunes — and then go fishing in the lake after! Feel free to get in some stargazing, too, from the many available campsites.

Illinois: Matthiessen State Park

Less than two hours southwest of Chicago by car, you can find yourself in Matthiessen State Park. Waterfalls and streams are the hallmarks of this heavily forested park in LaSalle County, which makes it ideal for hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. The scenic area and open trails are great for day trips, though there are equestrian campgrounds available for horseback riders.

Indiana: Turkey Run State Park

Michael Carroll/Adobe Indiana: Turkey Run State Park

West of Indianapolis and close to the Illinois border, the Turkey Run State Park sits along the Sugar Creek waterway. With 11 hiking trails, you can admire the sandstone cliffs and hemlock groves throughout the park while getting some exercise.

The suspension bridge spanning Sugar Creek will lead you to many of these trails, but also gives great views of areas where you can canoe and fish. Lodging is available in the form of campsites, cabins, and guest rooms at the Turkey Run Inn.

Iowa: Pikes Peak State Park

Pikes Peak State Park sits on the Iowa and Wisconsin state borders where the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers converge. The park is less than a two-hour drive from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Mountain bikers and hikers are welcome to use miles of the designated trail system and enjoy views along the forested overlooks. Camping is available, including campsites that are on a first-come, first-served basis.

Kansas: Kanopolis State Park

About 30 miles southwest of Salina, Kansas, Kanopolis State Park is situated within the Smoky Hills region. Kanopolis Lake borders large parts of the park and gives visitors easy access to boating, fishing, and swimming activities.

Hikers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders can enjoy multiple trails throughout the park as they try to spot resident wildlife, such as bald eagles and osprey. Cabins and campsites are available and can be reserved online.

Kentucky: Natural Bridge State Resort Park

Kentucky: Natural Bridge State Resort Park

Natural Bridge State Resort Park can be found in Slade, Kentucky, about an hour southeast of Lexington. The huge natural bridge, for which the park is named, is the focal point of the whole area. A majority of the trailheads begin or end near the natural bridge, so it’s easy to get to this location from anywhere in the park. The natural sandstone formations around the park keep visitors entertained as they explore the unique outdoor spaces.

For a fun ride and spectacular views, take the sky lift up to the overlook, which is within 600 feet of the natural bridge. Around the park, you can also enjoy miniature golf, swimming, fishing, kayaking, and more. Campsites, lodges, and cottages are available for overnight stays.

Louisiana: Fontainebleau State Park

Immerse yourself in beautiful bayou scenery at Fontainebleau State Park, just across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. This 2,800-acre park is known for its sandy beach along the shores of the lake and overwater cabins built in the style of fishing camps from the 1930s.

If you’d rather stay on the historic land itself, where the ruins of a 19th-century sugar mill can still be seen, try one of more than 150 campsites. You can also kayak and paddleboard down Cane Bayou or enjoy a walk on the hiking and nature trails.

Maine: Grafton Notch State Park

Grafton Notch State Park is about a half hour up the road from Newry, Maine, and the Sunday River Resort. It’s also a short drive from the New Hampshire border. There’s no camping in this park, but you can still take part in hiking, fishing, and watching the wildlife.

Carved by glaciers during the ice age, Grafton Notch is home to flowing waterfalls and deep gorges. Both backcountry and day hikers can enjoy the many trails here, including parts of the Appalachian Trail. For an even more relaxed journey, drive the popular Grafton Notch Scenic Byway and pull off to take in the highlights of nature.

Maryland: Rocky Gap State Park

Maryland: Rocky Gap State Park

Aligned solidly against the border of Pennsylvania in Western Maryland is the Rocky Gap State Park. Fully encompassing the blue waters of Lake Habeeb, this park can provide a welcome stop or getaway for any adventurous group.

There are multi-use trails for hiking and spots for fishing, swimming, and boating. Pet-friendly campsites are available and plentiful. If you want a different type of overnight experience, the mini cabins, yurts, and Easter Hill Chalet have you covered. For nearby attractions, the historic district of downtown Cumberland is only a 10-minute drive away.

Massachusetts: Wompatuck State Park

Spanning more than 3,500 acres of forest and waterways, the Wompatuck State Park sits nestled in Hingham, close to Massachusetts Bay. If you’re planning a visit, make sure to bring your good shoes and/or bike along because the trails here are worth it. Bikers can enjoy a paved surface on the Whitney Spur Rail Trail or off-road adventures on various single-track trails. Camping is available, with plenty of space to spread out and relish your stay.

Michigan: Tahquamenon Falls State Park

Located in Northern Michigan, Tahquamenon Falls State Park sits close to the border of Canada. Found along the Tahquamenon River, this park is known and named for the powerful waterfalls found in the area, which provide ample opportunity for photography.

Fishing, canoeing, hiking, and picnicking are also popular activities for visitors to Tahquamenon Falls. You can take your time exploring the park by renting out an available cabin or lodge or camping in the designated campgrounds.

Minnesota: Tettegouche State Park

Minnesota: Tettegouche State Park

About an hour northeast of Duluth and sitting along the banks of Lake Superior is Tettegouche State Park. Tettegouche highlights include hiking along lakeside cliffs and catching views of unique wildlife like the peregrine falcon.

Relax and enjoy the day on gravel beaches or peering up at cascading waterfalls. If you’re capable and more adventurous, you can also see what kind of rock climbing is available. Camping is available year-round, so the fun doesn’t have to end as you journey around this 9,000-acre park.

Mississippi: Paul B. Johnson State Park

If you travel about 15 miles south of Hattiesburg, you’ll end up at Paul B. Johnson State Park on Geiger Lake. Although the nature trails and 225-acre freshwater lake are the main attractions, you can also have fun with the disc golf course, splash pad, and picnic areas. You can even make a weekend out of it with both RV and tent campsites, cabins, and cottages.

Missouri: Lake of the Ozarks State Park

There’s nothing quite like the charm of the Ozarks region of Missouri and no better place to experience it than Lake of the Ozarks State Park. Conveniently located between Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri, this park has two swimming beaches and plenty of boat rentals for water activities.

If you’d rather enjoy the water from a distance, you can hike, bike, or ride a horse on the many trails throughout the park. Take in the history of this mid-1930s park by staying in one of the year-round overnight campsites, cabins, or yurts.

Montana: Giant Springs State Park

Montana: Giant Springs State Park

Found along the Missouri River in Great Falls, Giant Springs State Park is home to one of the largest freshwater springs in the country. Discovered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805, Giant Springs now hosts more than half a million visitors each year. Favorite activities within the park include biking, fishing, picnicking, and hiking. You can also visit the fish hatchery and take photographs at the Rainbow Falls overlook.

Nebraska: Eugene T. Mahoney State Park

The Eugene T. Mahoney State Park is located about halfway between Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska, on the banks of the Platte River. State parks may generally seem rustic (intentionally), but Nebraska has given Eugene T. Mahoney a modern twist. You can find hiking and biking trails, but there’s also a ropes course, theater, activity center, family aquatic center, and more.

If you have a family divided on where they should spend their next weekend away, this park looks like the best of both worlds. Spend time paddle boating and fishing during the day and relax at Caddy’s Parkside Grill in the evening. Campsites are available, or you can stay at one of 40 guest rooms in the Peter Kiewit Lodge.

Nevada: Valley of Fire State Park

Only about an hour outside Las Vegas, you can find yourself in a completely different environment. Valley of Fire State Park is aptly named because of the extreme orange- and red-hued rock formations found everywhere, as well as the hot sun baking the area all day long. For lovers of Southwestern landscapes, Valley of Fire’s 40,000 acres of Aztec sandstone are a dream come true. There are plenty of trails to hike and campsites are on a first-come, first-served basis.

New Hampshire: Franconia Notch State Park

New Hampshire: Franconia Notch State Park

Located between Lincoln and Franconia, New Hampshire, Franconia Notch State Park is surrounded by the White Mountain National Forest. The two main attractions here are Flume Gorge and the aerial tramway at Cannon Mountain. Flume Gorge is a natural gorge with a 2-mile loop trail that follows a boardwalk along a scenic route. The aerial tramway takes you on an 8-minute ride to the summit of Cannon Mountain, where you can enjoy panoramic views that extend for miles.

Make sure to check out these attractions when you’re here, but save some time for other activities, such as hiking trails, canoeing, fishing, and swimming. Campsites are also available if you’re looking to stay overnight.

New Jersey: Cheesequake State Park

Across the Raritan Bay from Staten Island, you have Cheesequake State Park. This park is located in a unique spot close to many urban areas. The Garden State Parkway even cuts directly across the middle of the park.

Still, you might hardly notice the busy areas around the park when you’re hiking or mountain biking across 1,610 acres of pristine wilderness. Escape from city life and spend some time fishing, swimming, and picnicking. If you want to stay more than the day, you can take advantage of the available campsites.

New Mexico: Elephant Butte Lake State Park

Elephant Butte Lake State Park is just over an hour north of Las Cruces, New Mexico, bordering the Rio Grande. As New Mexico’s largest state park, there are plenty of outdoor activities for everyone. Fishing, boating, kayaking, and jet skiing are all commonplace at Elephant Butte Lake. For less water-based activities, you can enjoy the 15 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails around the lake. Camping is allowed, including along the beach.

New York: Letchworth State Park

New York: Letchworth State Park

Letchworth State Park is not to be missed if you’re around Western New York. Known as the Grand Canyon of the East, Letchworth’s rolling, forest-covered hills surround the Genesee River for 17 miles. About 43 miles south of Rochester, Letchworth provides avid hikers with more than 66 miles of trails. The three major waterfalls are also a huge attraction, even considering the close proximity to Niagara Falls State Park. Although, for fewer crowds and activities like camping and biking, Letchworth would be the better option anyway.

North Carolina: Carolina Beach State Park

If you’re around Wilmington, North Carolina, make the short 20-minute drive down to Carolina Beach State Park — it’ll be worth your time. This park is located along the Cape Fear River and includes nearly 9 miles of trails. Swimming is not allowed, but you can fish, boat, and hike to your heart’s content. Large oak trees and a stunning backdrop provide the best location for picnicking and camping near the ocean.

North Dakota: Sully Creek State Park

Sully Creek State Park isn’t the biggest state park around, but its impressive location along the Little Missouri River should estimate a stop. This is especially true if you’re coming from Theodore Roosevelt National Park just a few minutes up the road.

From Sully Creek State park, you can access the 120-mile long Maah Daah Hey Trail if you’re up for hiking, mountain biking, or horseback riding. Canoeing and kayaking on the river are also recommended. Primitive campsites are available for overnight stays.

Ohio: Hocking Hills State Park

Ohio: Hocking Hills State Park

For a few fun-filled days in the outdoors, drive about an hour southeast of Columbus, Ohio, and spend some time at Hocking Hills State Park. Hocking Hills surrounds Rose Lake and provides visitors with seven different hiking areas to explore.

This park is generally intended for hikers and bikers, but nearby attractions include petting zoos and canoeing as well. Within the park, you can look around multiple caves, cliffs, and waterfalls. There is one campground with more than 150 available campsites.

Oklahoma: Lake Murray State Park

Lake Murray State Park is less than two hours south of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and about the same driving distance north of Dallas, Texas. Lake Murray was the first state park in Oklahoma. It also happens to be the largest state park in Oklahoma, covering 12,500 acres of land and water.

With that much area involved, there’s plenty of space to get out and play. There’s an RC flying field, an 18-hole golf course, cabins, an ATV/motorcycle area, and much more. For camping, you can choose from more than 200 available campsites.

Oregon: Fort Stevens State Park

There are plenty of places where you can enjoy the Pacific coastline in Oregon, but Fort Stevens State Park may be one of the best. Just up the coast from the popular getaway towns of Seaside and Cannon Beach, Oregon, is a sprawling 4,300-acre park with a rich military history. Fort Stevens was an active military installation for 84 years, but today it serves as a landmark in this fun, outdoor park.

At Fort Stevens, you can relax on the beach, go hiking, take your bike for a spin, and even play some disc golf. The options are abundant and should please just about everyone. To get the most out of your visit, stay a night or two in a campsite, cabin, or yurt.

Pennsylvania: Ohiopyle State Park

Pennsylvania: Ohiopyle State Park

Driving over an hour southeast of Pittsburgh brings you to the stunning Ohiopyle State Park. Ohiopyle, or “Ohiopehelle,” is thought to be derived from Native American Indian words meaning, “white, frothy water.”

You can see how significant that meaning is when you take a look at the fast-moving Youghiogheny River the park is situated next to. It’s also quite apparent when you’re cruising down the natural water slides or admiring one of the many waterfalls found throughout the park.

You can also picnic, mountain bike, hike, and camp in the park. Lodging options include cabins, lodges, cottages, yurts, and campsites.

Rhode Island: Burlingame State Park

Burlingame State Park is located close to the Atlantic coastline and about an hour southwest of Providence, Rhode Island. With 3,100 acres of woodland and the entirety of Watchaug Pond, there’s a lot of room for activities here. And with more than 700 available campsites, you can really spread out. Activities include fishing, boating, swimming, and hiking. You can also take part in viewing wildlife, such as white-tailed deer, red fox, hawks, owls, and more.

South Carolina: Huntington Beach State Park

Instead of heading to the super-crowded Myrtle Beach area, you can visit Huntington Beach State Park just 20 miles down the coast. The park’s causeway is a great way to enjoy a stroll while viewing native birds and trying to spot alligators. Even better, you can sunbathe on 3 miles of beach or go swimming in the ocean. To stay in this striking location, make a reservation at one of more than 100 campsites.

South Dakota: Custer State Park

South Dakota: Custer State Park

Located in the Black Hills and less than an hour’s drive from Rapid City, Custer State Park is one of South Dakota’s biggest outdoor wonderlands. With 71,000 acres to explore, there’s simply not enough time to get it all done. There’s biking, boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, swimming, and more.

If you want to skip the physical activities, try heading up one of the many scenic drives and just taking it all in. There are nine campgrounds available to extend your stay in the park.

Tennessee: Rock Island State Park

Rock Island State Park can be found in Central Tennessee, about 15 miles away from McMinnville. It’s situated between two meandering waterways on 883 acres of land. Whitewater rafting and kayaking are popular activities on the water, along with swimming and boating.

You can hike all around the area on the nine hiking trails, taking in the views of limestone gorge runs and trying to spot different types of wildlife. Birders can search for osprey, belted kingfishers, black-crowned night herons, and more. There are two campgrounds available, with certain campsites available year-round.

Texas: Palo Duro Canyon State Park

About a 30-minute drive southeast of Amarillo, Texas, you can experience the rugged beauty of Palo Duro Canyon State Park. The canyon is filled with spectacular views of Southwestern landscapes that you’re sure to appreciate. There are more than 30 miles of hiking, biking, and equestrian trails — get ready to see something new every day. Campsites, including luxury campsites, are available for overnight stays.

Utah: Snow Canyon State Park

Utah: Snow Canyon State Park

Just a short drive away from St. George in Southern Utah lies Snow Canyon State Park. This 7,400-acre park contains scenic views and hikes through lava flows and red sandstone formations. For a truly incredible hike, try finding the petroglyphs inside the park. They’re clearly marked, but tucked away inside a narrow slot canyon, so they’re easy to miss. Campsites and equestrian trails are also available at Snow Canyon.

Vermont: Half Moon Pond State Park

Within the 3,500-acre forests of Bomoseen State Park is the small camping area of Half Moon Pond State Park. If you drive about 8 miles northeast of Fair Haven, Vermont, you can stay in this beautiful, wooded area at one of the campsites, cabins, or lean-tos.

You can rent kayaks and canoes from the park office or spend some quiet time on the sandy beaches. Fishing opportunities abound, especially with panfish, yellow perch, and largemouth bass. If you’re up for a hike, use the park’s trail system to try and spot white-tailed deer or moose.

Virginia: Pocahontas State Park

Located about 20 miles southwest of Richmond, Virginia, Pocahontas State Park offers a wide variety of outdoor activities. There’s boating, picnicking, fishing, and an aquatic center for swimming. You can also traverse more than 90 miles of trails, either by hiking, biking, or walking. Overnight facilities include campsites, yurts, and cabins.

Washington: Cape Disappointment State Park

Washington: Cape Disappointment State Park

You can find Cape Disappointment State Park on the very southwestern tip of Washington, close to the Oregon border. This 2,023-acre park features cabins, yurts, campsites, and the North Head Lighthouse. Hike 8 miles of trails and enjoy the scenic views of the windswept Pacific coastline. For fun water activities, you can try your hand at crabbing, clamming, or fishing.

West Virginia: Babcock State Park

The 4,127-acre Babcock State Park is 20 miles southeast of Fayetteville, West Virginia, and the New River Gorge Bridge. You can hike, fish, and mountain bike in this scenic park, though a huge attraction is seeing the Glade Creek Grist Mill. This is a fully functioning replica of Cooper’s Mill, which once stood in the same area. Now, the mill attracts photographers from all around to capture idyllic scenes along the creek. Cabins and campsites are available for overnight stays.

Wisconsin: Devil’s Lake State Park

Devil’s Lake State Park is a short 40-mile drive away from Madison, Wisconsin, and contains nearly 100 species of birds. It is the third-oldest state park in Wisconsin and is known for its panoramic views across the lake from atop quartzite bluffs. There are 29 miles of hiking trails for you to get to know the area, plus other activities to enjoy like swimming and fishing. Campsites are available if you’re looking to stay overnight.

Wyoming: Curt Gowdy State Park

If you venture 25 miles west of Cheyenne, you can enjoy all that Curt Gowdy State Park has to offer. Encompassing both Granite Springs Reservoir and Crystal Lake Reservoir, Curt Gowdy is an outstanding park for boating and fishing. If you just want to be outdoors, Curt Gowdy has that, too. You can visit the archery range, hike, bike, and view wildlife at your leisure. With more than 35 miles of trails for all skill levels, you’ll have a lot of exploring to do. Camping is available for both tents and RVs.

How to save money on your summer trip

If you’re wondering how you’ll ever afford to travel to so many state parks, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few ways you can increase your budget and travel more:

  • Use travel rewards credit cards.  When you use some of the best travel credit cards, it can help you earn valuable rewards on your purchases that you can then redeem toward future trips. In the case of road trips, it may make sense to use travel rewards for a rental car so you aren’t putting as many miles on your own vehicle. If you’re new to earning travel rewards, there are amazing travel credit cards for beginners you can check out. They generally come with lower annual fees and straightforward rewards-earning.  
  • Sign up for a cashback credit card. The best cashback credit cards reward you with cash back for everyday purchases. If you’re going to be driving a lot, you might consider getting one of the cashback credit cards to pay for gas. The best gas credit cards earn bonus cash on gas purchases, which is more money back into your wallet when you fill up your tank. If you want to take it a step further, you can get a credit card for gas and groceries. This type of card could help you earn even more cash back by netting you extra rewards from trips to the grocery store and the gas station.
  • Pack the essentials. A potentially huge cost on road trips is spending on items you forgot to pack or didn’t realize you would need. Before hitting the open road, it’s important to go over your road trip essentials. Water and water bottles should be of the utmost importance if you’re going to spend a lot of time outside. For extra savings, try to pack a cooler or something similar. Eating out will normally be more expensive than getting food from a grocery store. With a cooler, you can store food and beverages and save money in the process.

Bottom line

It’s hard to make coronavirus predictions, but it’s safe to say that travel won’t be the same for the foreseeable future. Road trips are likely to be popular right now as fewer people are looking to fly — and that means the popular parks within driving distance could fill up.

Still, if you need some travel in your life and want to take an epic road trip, there are a lot of lesser-known state parks out there that are calling your name. You could even look into one of the many overlooked national parks along your route as well.

Just remember to check each park’s website before visiting so you know if there are any rules or restrictions in place because of COVID-19. Also, be safe and good luck with any summer plans you may have.

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Ben Walker, CEPF, CFEI®, is credit cards specialist. For over a decade, he's leveraged credit card points and miles to travel the world. His expertise extends to other areas of personal finance — including loans, insurance, investing, and real estate — and you can find his insights on The Washington Post,, Yahoo! Finance, and Fox Business.