Readers' Favorite State Parks to Visit in Summer

AAA Members share their top state parks from the West to hike, camp, swim, or just take in the view.

Patrick’s Point ocean view near Trinidad, California
California’s Patrick’s Point offers coastal redwoods, spruce, hemlock, sandy beaches, and dramatic ocean views.
Bill Gozansky / Alamy

"Along the entire California coast from north to south, my favorite state park is Sue-meg State Park. You can climb Depression-era stone steps up a rocky promontory to watch for sea life, then have a delicious meal in nearby Trinidad."—Terry Lamphier

"Hands down it's Jack London State Historic Park in Glen Ellen, California. Besides its beauty—1,400 acres of varied landscape, spectacular views, 26 miles of trails—it always has things going on: art classes, themed hikes, lectures, and music."—Anne Abrams

"California has many beautiful beaches, but Jug Handle State Natural Reserve, halfway between Fort Bragg and the town of Mendocino, is at the top of my list. If you get tired of sun and sand, hike 300,000 years back in geological time to the inland Pygmy Forest." —Jack Tomlin

"Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park offers so much to do and see, not least the water itself, plus Spooner Lake and Sand Harbor. I enjoyed swimming, scuba diving, boating, and resting on the sandy beaches. All I needed was more time!"—Rita Wiseman


"Here's just one favorite: At Lucky Peak State Park, half an hour from Boise, you can play in the reservoir, picnic, or hang out under the shady cottonwood trees for a quick refresh on hot summer days." —Beth Landis

"Ponderosa State Park near McCall, Idaho, is our favorite. It has walking and biking trails where deer are a common sight; both camping spots and cabins; and plenty of beach activities, including fishing, swimming, and boating. What a great combination of mountain and lake access." —Jacqueline Street

"At the crown jewel of the Oregon park system, Silver Falls, east of Salem, you can hike past 10 spectacular waterfalls. My top jaunts include the short trip to Upper North Falls and the stroll, less than a mile farther, to North Falls, where I sit on a bench behind the cascade." —Joel Rosenblit

"On a hot day in central Oregon, nothing beats a lazy tube float down the river in Tumalo State Park just northwest of Bend. Stay in one of seven yurts and enjoy evening programs in the outdoor amphitheater. A playground near the campsites helps kids burn off energy." —Maryjo Monroe

"Valley of the Rogue State Park is conveniently located off I-5 south of Grants Pass, Oregon. As it curves along the Rogue River, its shady trails allow hiking, biking, and access to fishing spots. Stop for the day or spend the night at a pet-friendly campsite." —Kay Killian

"With its red Navajo sandstone, fields of black lava, and variety of trails, Snow Canyon State Park in Ivins, Utah, is a gem any time of year. But one easy trail offers a surprise: Jenny's Canyon, opens in early summer, culminates at a slot canyon and seasonal stream." —Toby O'Brien

"I love walking along the beach trail at Wilder Ranch State Park in Santa Cruz, California. Sweeping ocean views on one side and farmlands on the other remind me of the region's agricultural heritage. The breeze is refreshing too." —Andra Lorenz

This article was first published in Summer 2016 and last updated in August 2022.