With summer upon us in the north and midwest, it is nice to be out and about, enjoying the sun and warm weather. Like most midwesterners , I try to do as much outside from May to October as I can. I know winter is around the corner and it will have me hibernating. There is still some hesitation on traveling so I thought another day trip idea could be to your State Park. Pack up the bikes, kayaks, picnic baskets, and perhaps the family and let’s take a trip to some of the best State Parks in our nation.
Connecticut -Dinosaur State Park
Real. Dinosaur tracks. Yes, for real. They have been preserved for over 200 million years. Located in Rocky Hill, CT- Dinosaur State Park is just an hour or two drive from many east coast cities. Aside from the amazement of the tracks from the Dilophosaurus and Eubrontes dinosaurs there is a 2 mile trail that takes you through the arboretum. Enjoy the beautiful tapestry of juniper, ginkgo, pine, sequoia and magnolia trees as well as discover rocks that date back millions of years. Not your typical State park as there are no beaches, no biking, or kayaking but what they do have is pretty cool. For inspiriting Paleontologists, you can do Track Casting– you create your very own dinosaur footprint to take home with you. There is also the opportunity to mine for gems and fossils. Be sure to review the website as you need to come prepared with a few itemshttp://www.dinosaurstatepark.org/outdooractivities.html. The park is closed on Mondays. The exhibition center is currently closed due to Covid19 but the rest of the park is open. Bring a picnic basket and dine where dinosaurs once roamed the earth.
Kentucky- Cumberland Falls
Only a 3 hour drive from Louisville or Nashville, Cumberland Falls State Park has a lot to offer. It’s hard to know where to begin here… Do you start with the 68 foot waterfalls and catch a glimpse of a moonbow – a rainbow formed by the droplets of water when the sky is clear or the moon is full? Or are you feeling REALLY adventurous and want to go river rafting? Or enjoy the adrenaline rush from the 650 foot long zip line that reaches 35 miles per hour as you drop from the tower. Not your thing? There are stand up paddle boards, kayaking, and fishing activities as well. A lovely beach for swimming and relaxing. You can’t go to the state that hosts the Kentucky Derby each year without trying your hand at horseback riding. Take a 45 minute guide trail ride through the beautiful woods of eastern Kentucky. You may discover that you want to spend more than a day. There are cottages and cabins available for rental for 1 to 7 nights. Campsites are open again if you want to rough it and bring your own tent or RV.https://parks.ky.gov/corbin/parks/resort/cumberland-falls-state-resort-park
Maine- Baxter State Park
Known as New England’s greatest State Park, Baxter sits on over 200,000 acres and is the largest protected wilderness area in the US. It is also the northern terminus point for the Appalachian trail. There are over 200 miles of hiking trails that offer 2 hour to day long hikes through the park. There are many measures in place to protect this area, so parking reservations for hiking the more complicated trails are recommended. Open 7 days a week, you can cover everyone’s interest as activities include; fishing, canoeing, kayaking, , bird watching, hunting, and mountain climbing. Home of Mt Katahdin, peaks at 5767ft and visible on a clear day from the Quebec/New Hampshire border. This is a rugged area. No electricity. No food or gas. No cell service.Road are unpaved. Any facilities that are available are very primitive. It is a great place to go off the grid. Your only interaction for hours (or days) can be with the moose or other wildlife that roam this unspoiled area. During “non Covid” times you can also go white water kayaking on the Penobscot River (check back in late 2020). Camping is available- tent and cabins. There are glamping options near by as well, check out this resource https://glampinghub.com
I hope I have peaked your interest. Stay tuned for part 2 as we discover what the the parks in South Carolina , Michigan, and Maryland have to offer. Create that road trip playlist that has all your favorite tunes, grab your most adventurous friend and venture out to your favorite state park.