Five “Hidden Gem” State Parks

The United States National Park system contains some of the most beautiful landscapes and natural wonders in the world. Though traffic jams, crowds of noisy people and armies of bleeping cell phones and take away from from our outdoor experiences. While the best known parks are well worth visiting, perhaps you will find more serenity at one of these “hidden gem” state parks.

Henderson Beach State Park, Florida

Located in Destin, FL, Henderson Beach offers a variety of landscapes and activities. Camping, hiking, fishing and swimming are common activities. The Gulf Coast shoreline scenery includes pine forest, wildflowers and rolling coastal dunes.

Ha Ha Tonka State Park, Missouri

Ha Ha Tonka State Park offers a little over seventeen thousand acres to explore-formally traveled by Daniel Boone and son Nathan. The park runs along the arm of the Lake of the Ozarks and offers about fifteen miles of trails on which you’ll find caves, tunnels, natural bridges and sinkholes. A somewhat bizarre feature of the park are the stone ruins of a castle built in the early 20th century by a Kansas City businessman.

Tumalo State Park, Oregon

Tumalo State Park is located very near Bend, Oregon. But once inside the beautiful 330 acre park one would never know civilization is just around the bend! Wildlife viewing, fishing, camping and hiking are some of the parks most popular activities. The hiking trails that run out from the river lead to some beautiful canyons on the park property. One particularly popular activity is tubing in the parks river. The park offers winter activities as well-park visitors can ski and snowboarder on Mt. Bachelor.

Lucky Peak State Park, Idaho

Located just southeast of Boise, Lucky Peak is relaxing state park whose primary features are water activities. Lucky Peak Dam’s beaches are popular with the swimmers. Discovery Park features fishing in the Boise River. The park also includes the full-service Spring Shores Marina.

Goose Island State Park, Texas

Goose Island is a very unique natural destination. While it offers a variety of outdoor activities swimming is not among them; oyster shells, mud flats and marsh grass compose the shoreline making swimming conditions less than ideal. Families can still enjoy birding, nature hikes, boating, fishing and camping while visiting Goose Island. Rangers provide guided nature walks and in the summer kids can borrow Junior Ranger Explorer Packs that include binoculars, a magnifying glass and crayons (among other items) to record what they see.

Jody Victor