The Best State Parks To Visit In 2022: Part I

New coronavirus variants are bursting into our society without warning (because we’re not paying enough attention). They’re damaging our ability to enjoy the holiday. They’re threatening our immunity. They’re leading to more death. More loss. Suffice it to say, we could all use a little bit more enjoyment in our lives. We’re still going outside more often as a result — and so it might be time for some alternative locations. Here are a few of the best state parks for spring!

Giant City State Park is one of our favorites for several reasons. First, some of us are tired of walking. So how about exploring on horseback? That’s one activity that Giant City offers visitors inside the scenic Shawnee National Forest. You’ll see beautiful — and unique — rock formations while you venture out into the forest. We recommend the Giant City Nature Trail. Oh! And don’t forget your camera! The park is open sunup to sundown, but you can stay overnight in the lodge if you’d prefer.

We recommend Ferne Clyffe State Park if you want to camp for a night or two. There are plenty of primitive sites available, or paid sites with the appropriate facilities. There are two really popular trails to check out: Hawk’s Cave and Big Rocky Hollow. The former isn’t actually a cave at all. It’s a bluff under which you’ll walk. The latter trail provides great views alongside a waterfall and popular swimming hole. Bring your bathing suit or dunk your feet!

Another fun option is the Dixon Springs State Park — especially because it hasn’t yet garnered a similar reputation to more popular parks. In other words, you might not get bogged down by a big crowd. Birdwatchers will love this locale and can ask someone in the visitors center for guides and checklists. We recommend hiking the Ghost Dance Canyon, a moderately difficult trek through a beautiful canyon.

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