In search of your next outdoor adventure, looking to get away from your computer screen, or on the hunt for your next artsy Instagram post? The team here at Travel Lens has got you covered!
Despite the constant development of new and exciting tourist attractions, America remains famous for its abundance of National and State Parks, which are packed full of history and awe-inspiring views, but with so many parks to choose from, you really are spoiled for choice!
Following on from the launch of our US National Park Index, the team at Travel Lens has analyzed Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews, Instagram popularity, and Google search data, to put together a list of the most beautiful US State Parks in the hope that we can inspire your next trip!
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness Crowned Most Beautiful State Park in the US, With 88.89% of Reviews Mentioning ‘Beautiful”
We used a combination of Yelp and TripAdvisor to find out which state parks are the most aesthetically pleasing to visitors. More specifically we looked at the total number of reviews, as well as the number of reviews containing the words ‘beautiful’, ‘stunning’, and ‘breathtaking’ for each park.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park - 88.89% of reviews mention beauty
With a total of 88.89% of their reviews mentioning words synonymous with beauty, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness appears first in our list of most beautiful state parks. As Michigan’s largest state park, this awe-inspiring landscape is plentiful in terms of area and beauty.
Smugglers' Notch State Park - 76.19% of reviews mention beauty
Equipped with a range of picnicking and camping facilities, Smugglers’ Notch State Park is the perfect place to visit if you are looking for a day (or weekend) away from your screen! Based on the fact that 76.19% of reviews mention aesthetic words, it appears that this park is a site to behold, thus taking the second spot in our list of most beautiful state parks.
Grayson Highlands State Park - 65.52% of reviews mention beauty
Completing our list of the top three most beautiful state parks, with 65.52% of their reviews mentioning beauty, is Grayson Highlands. As the name suggests, this state park is positioned to encompass mountainous views which may explain why this area is a fan favorite with visitors. With acres of land to explore, there are stunning sights for everyone to see!
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness has grown over 112% in Popularity - More Than Any Other Park
With so many state parks to choose from, it is unlikely that you are familiar with all of them. That's why we’ve looked at the number of Google searches over the last two years to reveal which State Parks are currently sparking people’s interest.
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness, Michigan - 112.26% search increase
After recently announcing that the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is to receive over $1 million for infrastructure improvements, this park has also seen a 112.26% increase in Google searches. As a result of this, it takes the top spot as the state park growing most in popularity.
Colt, Rhode Island - 96.04% search increase
As a hotspot for anything fishing-related, Colt State Park is always making the headlines from visitors finding the latest catch of the day. Since 2021, this park has seen a 96.04% increase in Google searches which indicates that its popularity is well and truly on the up!
Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail, Tennessee - 86% search increase
The Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail was recently involved in a wildlife conservation program across Tennessee. With an 86% increase in Google searches since this project took off, it appears that this park has sparked people's interest and as a result, it completes our top three list of state parks growing in popularity.
Niagara Falls Named Most Instagrammed State Park, With Over 3.5 Million Posts
As one of the go-to sites for photo-sharing, we looked at Instagram to see which state parks are currently the most popular in terms of the number of posts using park-specific hashtags.
Niagara Falls, New York - 3,526,461 Instagram posts
Situated on the border between America and Canada, this state park lends itself as a hotspot for potential tourists. With so much to take in, the best things to do in Niagara Falls include watching the world-famous waterfall from the Prospect Point Observation Tower and going on a boat tour around the park. As evident by the 3,526,461 Instagram posts, it appears that this park is a beauty to behold and people can’t seem to get enough of it!
Valley of Fire, Nevada - 285,304 Instagram posts
Made up of radiant red rocks and mountainous views, the Valley of Fire State Park is surrounded by photogenic landscapes. One look at this park and it quickly becomes apparent why 285,304 people have posted pictures of it on Instagram!
Hocking Hills, Ohio - 248,287 Instagram posts
Similarly to Niagara Falls, the Hocking Hills state park is known for its breathtakingly beautiful waterfall attraction. With two of the top three parks on this list having the same stand-out geological feature, it appears that waterfalls make for the perfect photo opportunity when visiting a state park.
We used information from an article published by Travel & Leisure to create our list of US state parks.
We used Google Keyword Planner to add up the total number of searches for each state park between Oct 2020-Sept 2021 and a separate total for Oct 2021-Sept 2022. We then subtracted the latter total from the former and divided this by the Oct 2020-Sept 2021 figure before multiplying by 100. This gave us a percentage of how much each state park had increased/ decreased in searches over the last two years.
We used Instagram to find the number of posts that used #(parkname) for each state park.
From this, we were able to calculate an overall aesthetic score for each park by adding the latter three totals together and we removed any parks that received a total of <10. We divided the total number of aesthetic reviews by the total number of reviews before multiplying this by 100 to calculate the percentage of ‘aesthetic’ reviews for each state park.