These state parks are full of impressive beauty

The Midwest has earned the moniker of “America’s Heartland” for good reason.

Untold generations have called the region home, making it a place brimming with fascinating history. Filled with natural beauty, the Midwest features a host of excellent outdoor destinations. Few places in the country serve as a better reconnect to the heart and heritage of this land than the Midwest’s state parks. Here are five parks that offer a taste of what the Midwest has to offer to adventurers.

Hocking Hills State Park (Ohio)

Hocking Hills Lodge photo credits to Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills Lodge in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio. Photo courtesy of Hocking Hills State Park

Located just south of the town of Logan, Ohio, resides the year-round natural attraction of Hocking Hills State Park. From waterfalls cascading off high clifftops, to trails tracking a collection of majestic gorges, Hocking Hills has a bit of everything for nature lovers. Whether you go in the heat of spring and summer to see the colors of the local flora at their most prominent, or in the winter to marvel at the immaculate natural sculptures formed from the frozen falls, the park features something different. While nature has been kind enough to provide most of the spectacles, a range of lodgings have been set up for all levels of vacationers. Camp in a tent, camper or cabin, or relax in one of the three lodges nearby complete with family suites, event spaces, pools, marvelous views and every other amenity you can think of.

Starved Rock State Park (Illinois)

Starved Rock State Park in Oglesby, Illinois has much to offer for the perfect wooded retreat. The park has been voted the state’s best attraction and for good reason, as it boasts a plethora of activities and events set within a vast crop of natural scenery along with 13 miles worth of trails to explore. What is likely the centerpiece of the park, is its historic Starved Rock Lodge. The lodge stands as the base of operations for most of the park’s special events and has been providing guests with quality rooms, good food, and good times since the 1930s. With 90 fully accommodating rooms, several outfitted cabins, scenic camping sites and six reservable event spaces, Starved Rock has every amenity that you could dream of for your next vacation, conference, or celebration.

Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park (North Dakota)

Maybe nature isn’t what you want to be at the forefront of your trip. Maybe something more historical is up your alley. If this is the case, look no further than Fort Abraham Lincoln State Park in Mandan, North Dakota. When taking a break from exploring the sprawling plains and hiking trails, take a step back into history to discover the native roots of the land through a tour of a Mandan village, or observe the daily life of a frontier soldier at the park’s namesake fortress. Take in the heritage of the region all from the modern comfort of one of several rustic cabins on site with all the amenities one could ask for. Or, if roughing it is more appealing, there are a full lot of sites offering electricity and water as well as some special equestrian sites for those looking to make use of the park’s beautiful horseback trails.

Brown County State Park (Indiana)

Consider paying a visit to the Abe Martin Lodge tucked away in the expansive acreage of Brown County State Park just on the outskirts of Nashville, Indiana. From one of the lodge’s many rooms, cabins, conference spaces, restaurant, sports courts or even waterpark, all visitors are guaranteed a spectacular view of the magnificent surrounding hills that locals have affectionately dubbed “The Little Smokies.” Indiana’s largest park has no shortage of activities, with miles of hiking trails, multiple special events happening daily, highlights on the Indiana Birding Trail among much, much more. And, if what’s inside the park itself is not quite enough, the fantastic dining and shopping destinations in Nashville and the surrounding county are sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

Mackinac Island State Park (Michigan)

Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island in Michigan is an ideal getaway for groups. 

What if the ideal getaway is something a little less landlocked, with serene aquatic views? In that case, Mackinac Island State Park is the best of both worlds. Being Michigan’s first state park, Mackinac Island is brimming with both historical and natural attractions along with a number of easily accessible trails all contained within a picturesque island setting in Lake Huron. With verdant coniferous forests and extensive beautiful beaches surrounding a quaint downtown area, there is a little bit of everything held within that magnificent island paradise. The island’s own Grand Hotel, which has been in operation since 1887, will provide for every occasion ensure that each visit is both luxurious and leisurely, with not a worry in sight.

No matter the style, be it camping, staying in a hotel or simply visiting for a day, each and every one of these destinations offer incredible, unforgettable experiences with all the comfort and hospitality of home.

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By Ryan Elspas