Bucket List State Park Campgrounds For RVers
While national parks are at the top of many RV travel bucket lists, state parks are a tried and true second choice. State parks are not only a wonderful way to really get to know a specific state, but sometimes the state park campgrounds have more amenities than national park campgrounds.
Many of the 10,234 state parks in the U.S. have campgrounds. State park campgrounds are normally run by a specific state’s administration. They are located in areas that feature natural beauty, recreational opportunities, or historic landmarks. Some state parks are smaller and may only feature a visitor center and day use area. Some are nearly as large as a national park and feature several campgrounds and access to lakes, trails, and even nearby urban areas.
The top 15 state parks for your travel list
State parks are as diverse as the states themselves. While they may not be the largest or most popular parks, many of them feature special amenities, amazing views, or unique activities.
Some of them may even offer camping options often overlooked by RVers heading to more prominent national parks. For updated information on each park, we’ve also included links to each campground on Campground Reviews.
1. Smallwood State Park, Maryland
Smallwood State Park in Maryland is only an hour south of Washington D.C. and features 15 wooded sites with electric hookups. They also have a bathhouse, several walking trails, and access to a dump station on the way out of the campground. Read more Campground Reviews.
2. Cathedral Gorge State Park, Nevada
With many visitors to the Silver State heading to Las Vegas or Reno, the eastern portion of Nevada tends stay more hidden. Located hundreds of miles from any cities, Cathedral Gorge State Park has some unusual bentonite clay formations and caves that makes this park totally unique. The campground has 22 sites and free hot showers. Read more Campground Reviews.
3. Petit Jean State Park, Arkansas
This state park in Arkansas just might have it all: trees, mountain views, caves, waterfalls, lake access, and even swimming pools. The campground features 129 sites, cabins and yurts for rent, and a 24-room lodge with a fireplace. Read more Campground Reviews.
4. Morro Bay State Park, California
Much of the buzz surrounding California state parks goes to places such as the Redwoods or Big Sur. However, tucked into the hills next to the Pacific Ocean is the less-visited Morro Bay State Park.
Located close to San Luis Obispo, Hearst Castle, and the surfing town of Cayucos, the campground has views of the 581-foot-tall Morro Rock. There are also 140 sites where you can spread out your rig and surf gear. Read more Campground Reviews.
5. Palo Duro Canyon State Park, Texas
Did you know that the second largest canyon in the U.S. is located in Texas? The beautiful Palo Duro Canyon State Park features rugged rock formations, 30 miles of trails, and even luxury tent camping. Bring your trailer (and your horse) to the campground where there are both primitive sites and sites with hookups. Read more Campground Reviews.
6. Salmon Lake State Park, Montana
Tucked between two popular national parks (Glacier and Yellowstone), Salmon Lake State Park in Seeley Lake, Montana offers the best of Big Sky Country. The forested campground is located right next to the water and offers both lake and river fishing options. There are only 23 sites, but each site is only a few steps from the water. Read more Campground Reviews.
7. Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota
Waterfall enthusiasts should put several of Minnesota’s state parks on their list. Gooseberry Falls is just one of the many that dot the shore of Lake Superior and has over 1,600 acres of waterfalls and trails. The campground has 70 sites and quick access to the Gitchi-Gami State Trail along the lake. Read more Campground Reviews.
8. DeSoto State Park, Alabama
If you decide to do some camping in the fall, check out DeSoto State Park in Fort Payne, Alabama. Famous for its fall foliage, this park has an abundance of waterfalls and a seasonal swimming pool. There are 137 wooded campsites as well as pull-thru sites. Read more Campground Reviews.
9. Wallowa Lake State Park, Oregon
While most RVers head to the Oregon Coast, take off in the other direction and check out this beautiful park in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon. Located near the picturesque town of Joseph, Wallowa Lake State Park offers snow-capped mountain views and a quiet campground. The sites are all full hookup and the restrooms are heated. Read more Campground Reviews.
10. Pettigrew State Park, North Carolina
This year-round campground only has 13 sites, but the state park is the closest to North Carolina’s famous Outer Banks. The park and campground have quick access to kayaking, fishing, swimming, and the largest dunes on the East Coast. Read more Campground Reviews.
11. Falling Waters State Park, Florida
When you think of Florida, you don’t normally think of hills or tall waterfalls. However, this state park is located on one of the highest hills (324 above sea level) in the Sunshine State. The Pine Ridge Campground has 24 sites and is close to the tallest waterfall in the state and some unusual sinkholes. Read more Campground Reviews.
12. Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah
Utah’s national parks get most of the attention, but this beautiful state has several state parks that rival them all. Kodachrome Basin State Park is located close to Bryce Canyon National Park and features a 48-site campground with amenities not usually found in the desert such as showers and pull-thru sites. Read more Campground Reviews.
13. Letchworth State Park, New York
New York has the distinction of having the most state parks (over 1,400) and the oldest state park (Niagara Falls). If you have to choose just one, how about the “Grand Canyon of the East”? Letchworth State Park has scenic waterfalls and cliffs normally seen in the west. The campground has 340 sites with access to the over 60 miles of park trails. Read more Campground Reviews.
14. Mueller State Park, Colorado
As a photographer’s paradise, Mueller State Park in Divide, Colorado can’t be beat. When you are not shooting photos of mountains and trees, you might just catch a bear or elk on film. The campground is just as picturesque and includes showers and plenty of shade. Read more Campground Reviews.
15. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Florida
For the last state park on this list, we might as well go way down south. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park on Key Largo in the Florida Keys is still open after other state parks sustained damage from recent hurricanes. The 47-site park with full hookups allows for quick access to the first undersea park in the U.S. Don’t forget your snorkel and fins! Read more Campground Reviews.
Find more state park campgrounds
You can find more state park campgrounds and other great destinations with a quick search on Campground Reviews. Be sure to use RV Trip Wizard and the RV LIFE App to plan your route and find other points of interest in the area.
Christina is a writer and designer who has written about camping, tiny houses, and alternative living since 2008. She recently traded in her teardrop trailer for a 13-foot fiberglass trailer from 1982.