1: Niagara Falls: America’s Oldest State Park
Start your tour of some of the most breathtaking state parks in the United States with a look at the nation’s oldest state park: Niagara Falls in Upstate New York. Established in 1885, this state park is home to three majestic falls—American Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Horseshoe Falls—and a rich array of flora and fauna.
2: The Pennsylvania Wilds: Wilderness Reborn
The state parks of north-central Pennsylvania, located within the Pennsylvania Wilds Conversation Landscape Initiative, lure more than 12 million people each year. In this lecture, explore some of the can’t-miss features at Cherry Springs State Park, Leonard Harrison State Park, Cook Forest State Park, Sinnemahoning State Park, and more.
3: New York’s Adirondacks: “Forever Wild”
Stretching more than 6 million acres of Upstate New York, Adirondack Park boasts over 3,000 lakes and ponds; 30,000 miles of rivers and streams; and 5,500 campsites. From the “Great Camps” of the Gilded Age’s rich and famous to Lake Placid, learn what makes this large tract of land just as important as the nation’s federal reserves.
4: Exploring New Hampshire’s White Mountains
Dive into the adventures within the White Mountain National Forest. There’s Franconia Notch, home to the legendary (and defunct) rock formation, the Old Man of the Mountain; Crawford Notch State Park, founded the same year the White Mountain National Forest was established; and Bretton Woods, which lies at the base of Mount Washington.
5: The Yankee Coast: Plymouth to Montauk
Drive just an hour and a half from Plymouth to Newport and you can visit every single state park covered in this lecture. Start with the Pilgrim Memorial (America’s most famous rock), then journey to the masonry bastion of Fort Adams in Rhode Island, and end up at Montauk Point and Camp Hero State Parks at the far eastern tip of Long Island.
6: New Jersey Pineland Legends and Landscapes
A lurking, devilish crypto-creature. A ghost town from the 19th century. Towering coastal lights and undeveloped barrier islands. These are just a few of the many fascinating aspects of the state parks found inside New Jersey’s Pinelands and the famous Jersey Shore, including Wharton State Forest and Island Beach State Park.
7: The Tidewater South: America’s Birthplace
Visit a region of Virginia and Maryland where you can experience more than 400 years of American history, including the Jamestown settlement and the battle of Yorktown. In addition, learn about the unspoiled natural wonders you can find at places like Assateague State Park and the Great Dismal Swamp.
8: Georgia and Carolina Islands: Lost in Time
Get up close and personal with barrier island state parks in Georgia, South Carolina, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Discover the incredible variety of history, culture, and outdoor adventures waiting for you in spots like Reynolds Mansion State Park, Charles Towne Landing State Historic Site, and Jockey’s Ridge State Park.
9: Southern Appalachian Peaks and Valleys
Get a taste of what you can expect from a state park road trip through the southern Appalachians. Mr. Yogerst reveals the scenic jewels you can find within Alabama’s DeSoto State Park, northwest Georgia’s Fort Mountain, northeast Georgia’s Tullulah Gorge (the “Grand Canyon of the South”), and South Carolina’s Mountain Bridge.
10: The Florida Keys: Tropical Paradise Parks
See what is so special about Florida’s state park system—and the archipelago in which they’re found. Here, dive into several state parks in the Florida Keys, including John Pennekamp State Park, Bahia Honda State Park, Curry Hammock State Park, and the San Pedro Underwater Archaeological Preserve State Park.
11: West Texas: Where the West Is Still Wild
Visit two awe-inspiring state parks in West Texas: first, Big Bend Ranch, located on the Rio Grande River and home to a vast backcountry you can only explore on unpaved desert roads, and second, Palo Duro Canyon, a 20-mile-wide canyon that offers the best horseback riding in the Texas Panhandle.
12: Adventures in the Ozarks and Ouachitas
What the Ozarks and Ouachitas—two rugged highland areas separated by the Arkansas River Valley—lack in height they more than make up for in the sheer variety of things to do there. Join Mr. Yogerst on an exploration of spots like the Ozark Folk Center State Park, Onondaga Cave State Park, and Lake Ouachita State Park.
13: State Parks along the Mighty Mississippi
The vast majority of natural and human landmarks along the 2,320-mile stretch of the Mississippi River can be found at state parks. Here, take a trip down Old Man River and hop from Itasca State Park in Minnesota through Columbus-Belmont State Park in Kentucky all the way to Rosedown Plantation in Louisiana.
14: Presidential Parks in the Land of Lincoln
Trace the formative years of Abraham Lincoln’s life and learn how history and nature shaped one of the nation’s most iconic presidents. You’ll visit Lincoln Homestead State Park, Lincoln State Park, Lincoln’s New Salem State Park, Brown County State Park, and John James Audubon State Park.
15: The Great Lakes: Back from the Brink
In recent years, the state parks in and around the Great Lakes have benefitted from major restoration efforts, making them must-see places to visit. In this lecture, explore Mackinac Island in Michigan, Indiana Dunes State Park near Chicago, South Bass Island State Park in Ohio’s Lake Erie Archipelago, and more.
16: The Black Hills: Nature and Native Heritage
Attend a riveting buffalo auction where prices range as high as $5,000 per animal. Explore 71,000 acres of woodland, prairie, lakes, and mountains. Visit the renowned boomtown of Deadwood. These are just a few of the many adventures on offer in the Black Hills of South Dakota—all of which you’ll learn about here.
17: Parks of the Colorado Front Range
Despite being one of our national treasures, very little of the Colorado Rockies is protected by the National Park Service. Discover why the best way to explore Colorado’s mighty mountains is by visiting amazing state parks from State Forest State Park in the far north to Lincoln Park in the heart of Denver to the dinosaur graveyard at Garden Park Fossil Area.
18: Southwest Red Rock and Desert Canyon Parks
From the strange serenity of Cathedral Rock to flaming red sandstone formations in the Valley of Fire to a basin named for the famous Kodachrome slide film, tour the desert canyon landscapes of the American Southwest. It’s a grand loop that takes you through 900 miles of scenery and 200 years of geologic history.
19: California’s Badlands: Anza-Borrego
Mr. Yogerst gets a little personal in this lecture on California’s Anza-Borrego Desert State Park—which he’s been going to his entire life. Explore the melted landscape of the Borrego Badlands, the sandy trails of Coyote Canyon, the majesty of the Salton Sea, and the natural springs of the Vallecito Valley.
20: Big Blue: The Beauty of Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe holds the title of the largest alpine lake in North America, and it’s a scenic wonder (and recreational treasure) all year round. Spend some time poking around the lake’s iconic state parks, including Emerald Bay on the California side and Sand Harbor on the Nevada shore.
21: California’s Coastal Redwood Parks
Northern California’s coastal redwoods are among the tallest and oldest living things on the planet. Learn what makes coastal redwoods different from their cousins in the Sierra Nevada, what mobilized federal and state efforts to save the redwoods, and the best ways to see them for yourself at Prairie Creek, Del Norte Coast, and Jedediah Smith state parks.
22: Washington’s Orca Islands: The San Juans
Want a fascinating glimpse of quirky American history? Look no further than a journey through the state parks of the San Juan Islands. Tour this mosaic of islands and waterways, home to state parks that reflect the archipelago’s bucolic lifestyles, including Lime Kiln Point State Park and Matia Island Marine State Park.
23: Alaska’s State Parks: The Last Frontier
Sprawling across 1.6 million acres of wilderness, Wood-Tikchik is one of the largest state parks in the United States (around the same size as Delaware). Chugach, on the other hand, is an easily reachable state park just miles from downtown Anchorage. Both parks—and their can’t-miss sights—are covered here.
24: Hawaii’s Primeval Napali Coast
Hawaii’s Napali Coast is a vision of paradise on Earth, with remote beaches, rainforest valleys, 40-story waterfalls, ancient villages, and plenty of wildlife. End this course on a tropical note with a look at spots including Ha’ena State Park, Na Pali Natural Area Reserve, and Waimea Canyon State Park.
State parks preserve America's natural and human heritage.
State parks preserve America's natural and human heritage.
About Joe Yogerst
Joe Yogerst is a journalist and travel writer. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, and a master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Oregon. An avid world traveler since his teenage years, Mr. Yogerst has set foot on all seven continents and visited more than 160 countries, colonies, and territories. He has worked as a writer and editor on four continents, including stints in South Africa, London, Hong Kong, Singapore, and his native California.
Mr. Yogerst’s portfolio includes investigative journalism for The Washington Post, celebrity profiles for Prestige magazine, and 35 book projects for National Geographic. He is the author of National Geographic’s 50 States, 5,000 Ideas: Where to Go, When to Go, What to See, What to Do, a national travel bestseller. He is also the author of two additional books in the series: 100 Parks, 5,000 Ideas and the upcoming 100 Drives, 5,000 Ideas, which covers the best road trips in the United States and Canada.
Mr. Yogerst’s other books include his account of a modern-day journey through Vietnam, Land of Nine Dragons: Vietnam Today, which was named the best travel book in the annual Lowell Thomas Travel Journalism Competition. His book Long Road South: The Pan American Highway, which covers his four-month journey between Texas and Argentina, was named one of America’s top travel books by the Society of American Travel Writers. Mr. Yogerst’s articles on travel, business, culture, and sports have appeared in The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Examiner, The International Herald Tribune, Condé Nast Traveler, Vogue, Travel + Leisure, USA Today, CNN Travel, BBC Travel, TIME, Newsweek, and Forbes.