Our Favorite State Parks of 2019
Video: Our Favorite State Parks of 2019
Continuing our series of our Favorite Places of 2019: Next up is one of our absolute favorite amongst all of the favorites... State Parks! Y'all know we LOVE visiting state parks. Our plan eventually is to visit every Texas State Park as well as state parks in every US state and Provincial Parks in Canada. So this "Best Of" was pretty tough to come up with. We had a great time at all of the state parks we visited in 2019. But these parks stood out...
Like our Best City, County and RV Parks of 2019 post, we want to remind you of one rule we had while putting this list together. We had to have visited a park in 2019 for it to be included here.
And don't forget to watch the video above to learn more about why we chose each park to represent the categories. Now let's get to our picks:
The Prairie Campground at Mother Neff State Park near Waco, Texas was built in 2015. It is clean, provides easy access to hiking trails and almost feels like someone took campsites from a high end RV resort and plopped them down into a state park. Nice campsites doesn't even begin to describe it.
With more than 30 miles of hiking trails, Palo Duro Canyon State Park just outside of Canyon, Texas takes the prize for hiking trails. With trails of a variety of lengths and ranging from easy to challenging, this park offers hiking for everyone from beginners to experienced. Plus this huge park hosts a variety of ecosystems and geological features that make hiking really interesting.
Best Visitor Center
Several of the parks we visited this year have very good visitor centers. But we found our pick for best visitor center up in South Dakota at Custer State Park. The visitor center here offers interactive wildlife exhibits, park history, a movie about the park, and volunteers sharing the latest wildlife sightings.
Best Ranger Program
We really enjoyed the historical tour of the 1860s era fort grounds at Fort Richardson State Park at Jacksboro, Texas. Seven of the fort's original buildings have been restored and they've built replicas of two others. We'll be publishing our video and park profile in a few weeks with more info!
Most Unexpected Feature
This one easily goes to Lake Mineral Wells State Park next to Mineral Wells TX since they had two very unusual and unexpected features. In fact, this might just be our most surprising state park visit yet. We show a bit of it in our 1st video from our big summer trip with Grammy Kay. But we'll be posting more in a park profile in the future.
Best Star Watching
Another great stop that you haven't seen video of yet, our pick for best star watching park is Copper Breaks State Park just outside of Quanah TX. This is one of only a handful of International Dark Sky parks in Texas. And even though we had a full moon during our stay, the skies were amazing. Next time we'll time our trip according to the moon.
Most Private Campsite
The most private campsite we had at a state park this year came at Lake Arrowhead State Park just south of Wichita Falls TX. Our back in site was surrounded by brush and felt like we were tucked away. This is another park which we will write a full profile on in coming weeks. So watch for that.
Best Wildlife Viewing
We saw a ton of interesting wildlife this year. And, of course that is one of the things we love about state parks in general. But our pick for best wildlife this year is Custer State Park next to Custer SD. After our visit we can definitely understand why this park is recognized as one of the best wildlife destinations in the world. We saw bison, donkeys, deer, pronghorn, bighorn, turkeys and prairie dogs.
Our Top Favorite State Parks of 2019:
Honorable Mention: Copper Breaks State Park near Quanah TX
Runner-Up: Palo Duro Canyon State Park outside of Canyon TX
Our Favorite Overall Experience at an State Park in 2019: Custer State Park in the South Dakota Black Hills
We love our Texas State Parks, but our visit to Custer State Park just blew us away. It almost felt like we were visiting a National Park!
However, both Copper Breaks State Park and Palo Duro Canyon State Park are amazing. Either of these parks could have made our list for ranger programs or visitor centers. They both have nice campgrounds, great hiking and incredible night skies.
Well, that about does it for our favorite State Parks of 2019. We hope this is helpful for you as you plan your trips. We look forward to visiting all of these parks again in the future. Each one is unique and special in its own way. If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out our Best City, County and RV Parks of 2019 post. And join us again in a few days as we share our Favorite National Parks of 2019!