In the short history of this blog I’ve already pointed out the various “collecting” goals of US travelers. Whether it’s 50 states, every National Park (or National Park unit), every capital city, every state highpoint (and lowpoint), or even every county.
Another cool “collecting” goal is the state park. Often left out of national traveling goals, the state park is a cool element for those travelers who want to “conquer” a state or region by visiting every park in the area. Many states have more parks (and other park units) than there are National Parks in the country, which makes visiting every state park in the nation a bit overwhelming (though I imagine county counters could try it). Not to mention, there are many state public lands that aren’t just limited to “state parks”, but include forests, historic sites and parks, nature preserves, recreation areas, waysides, trails and trailheads, marine refuges and other establishments. The fine line between state park and simply “state owned” can get blurred easily in some cases.
You may have heard of at least a few of these state parks: Assateague (Maryland), Denali (Alaska), Fort Delaware (Delaware), Lewis and Clark Caverns (Montana)…oh, and Niagara Falls (New York). There’s many more than those that have had a prominent impact on regional and national tourism.
Then there are those state parks that, well, no one has head of… Fairfax Stone State Park in West Virginia. It commemorates a boundary marker placed in 1746. How about Minnie Island State Park in Connecticut. It’s 0.88 acres sit right in the middle of Gardner Lake near the towns of Salem, Bozrah and Montville. You need a boat just to get there and once you do, there is very little to do and nowhere to walk – it’s packed with trees and various shrubbery and it’s dwarfed in comparison by the already small Hopemead State Park located on the lakeshore. These two just happen to be the smallest state parks in their respective states (Fairfax Stone shares the “honor” with the Tu-Endi-Wei State Park, located on the extreme western edge of the state and commemorates the Battle of Point Pleasant).
I decided that why not create a “directory” of sorts of the smallest state parks in each state. The guidelines? The park should be under the label of a “state park” unless it’s considered categorized as one by the state’s parks division. For example, the smallest state park in Texas is considered to be the Lipantitlan State Historic Site. See how this could get confusing?
So, as part of my research, I contacted each state bureau for answers. This list – to the best of my knowledge – is the most accurate of its kind. In many cases I also noted the smallest public land unit for each state (and in many of those instances it is not a state park).
I’ll be sure to visit as many of these as I can as I pass through states. Each one, I’m sure, hold some sort of unique (and/or) quirky history and should be worth documenting. Just because they are small doesn’t mean they aren’t interesting (quite the opposite really!). If your up to visiting all 50, be my guest! I’d be interested to hear about your travel plans and results.
So, without further ado, here is the list. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions pertaining to it. I consider this an ongoing project and I while I strive for 100% accuracy, I’m only human and will update this list with corrections or changes as needed. Opinions on what is a state park and what counts on this list are quite welcome!
(Note – “UNCONFIRMED” status means I have not yet been able to corroborate the research with an official government document or contact with a state parks official in that state. The parks or units in these states on this list can change when I receive new information)
(Note #2 – in spots where I put n/a in the Unit column, it’s because either (a) I don’t know what the smallest state owned public land unit is, (b) I can’t confirm what the smallest state owned public land unit is (even if I think it’s the smallest state park in the state). Please note that the main goal of this list is to compile the smallest state parks – not necessarily the units and the definition of a public-use state park unit can be quite ambiguous. Units and use of these units change far more rapidly than the status of state parks – so these are included more for fun than anything else).
- Alabama – Park: Florala State Park (40 acres). Unit: n/a.
- Alaska – Park: Wickersham State Historical Park (0.5 acres). Unit: Same. (Note – Alaska likes to include all parks/sites under the “state park” banner, but the smallest with the “state park” name is Point Bridget State Park at 2,800 acres).
- Arizona – Tombstone Courthouse State Historical Park (4 acres). Unit: n/a. UNCONFIRMED. (note – Tombstone Courthouse has been listed as 1 acre online as well).
- Arkansas – Park: Lower White River Museum State Park (0.4 acres). (Note – I’ll include Herman Davis State Park, at 0.838 acres is included for those who prefer a “park” over a museum). Unit: Lower White River Museum State Park (0.4 acres).
- California – Park: Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park (0.11 acres). Unit: Same.
- Colorado – Park: Rifle Falls State Park (48 acres) (note – Harvey Gap State Park is 33 acres of land but also includes 287 water acres). Unit: n/a.
- Connecticut – Park: Minnie Island State Park (0.88). Unit: Same.
- Delaware – Park: Fox Point State Park (106.5 acres). Unit: Town Road Site on the Assawoman Canal in Ocean View (0.5 acres). (note – Fox Point’s official acreage was confirmed by Delaware Parks – it’s been quoted in the 170 range elsewhere).
- Florida – Park: Fort Mose Historic State Park (41 acres). UNCONFIRMED.
- Georgia – Park: Moccasin Creek State Park (32 acres). UNCONFIRMED.
- Hawaii – Wailuku River State Park (16.4 acres). Unit: Laie Point State Wayside (1.4 acres).
- Idaho – Park: Old Mission State Park (18 acres). UNCONFIRMED. (note – an e-mail from the Idaho Parks & Rec states that Lake Walcott State Park is the smallest at 42.2 acres – yet Old Mission is listed on their website at 18).
- Illinois – Park: William G. Stratton State Park (6.5 acres). Unit: Governor Shadrach Bond State Memorial (n/a acres) (also worth noting is the Fort Edwards Memorial at 0.1 acres).
- Indiana – Park: Falls of the Ohio (165 acres). Unit: n/a.
- Iowa – Park: Mini-Wakan State Park (12.5 acres). UNCONFIRMED.
- Kansas – Park: Mushroom Rock State Park (5 acres). Unit: n/a
- Kentucky – Park: Old Fort Harrod State Park (15 acres). UNCONFIRMED.
- Louisiana – Park: Lake Bruin State Park (53 acres). Unit: n/a
- Maine – Park: Damariscotta Lake State Park (19.2 acres). Unit: Mere Point (0.2 acres).
- Maryland – Park: Casselman River Bridge State Park (4 acres). Unit: Dan’s Rock Forest Tower (0.23 acres).
- Massachusetts – Park: Roxbury Heritage State Park. UNCONFIRMED.
- Michigan – Park: William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor (31 acres). Unit: n/a (possibly Wagner Falls Scenic Site, 23 acres).
- Minnesota – Park: Franz Jevne State Park (117.83 acres). Unit: Sam Brown State Wayside (1 acre).
- Mississippi – Park: Golden Memorial State Park (120 acres). Unit: n/a.
- Missouri – Park: Elephant Rocks State Park (133.75 acres). Unit: Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site (0.32 acres).
- Montana – Parks: Granite Ghost Town State Park (0.65 acres). Unit: n/a.
- Nebraska – Park: Smith Falls State Park (200 acres). Unit: Champion Mill State Historical Park (3.79 acres).
- Nevada– Park: Elgin Schoolhouse State Historic Site (1 acre). Unit: Same. (note – all state own public land falls under “state park”, but the smallest that is named a “state park” would be the Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort State Historic Park and the Mormon Station State Historic Park at 3 acres each).
- New Hampshire – Park: Wadleigh State Park (43 acres). Unit: Belletate Tract (0.2 acres).
- New Jersey – Park: Barnegat Lighthouse State Park (32 acres). Unit: n/a (The state owns various marinas which could qualify here).
- New Mexico – Park: Vietnam Veterans Memorial State Park. UNCONFIRMED.
- New York – Park: Sandy Island State Park (13 acres). UNCONFIRMED.
- North Carolina – Park: Carolina Beach State Park (420 acres). Unit: Lea Island State Natural Area (25 acres). (note – There are web references noting that Fort Macon State Park might be smaller than Carolina Beach, but is officially 424 acres, Jockeys Ridge is 426).
- North Dakota – Park: Sully Creek State Park (80 acres). Unit: Doyle Memorial State Recreation Area (21 acres).
- Ohio – Park: Oak Point State Park (1.5 acres).
- Oklahoma – Park: Talimena State Park (10 acres). Unit: n/a.
- Oregon – Park: Clarno State Park (1.28 acres). Unit: Agate Beach State Recreation Site and Prichard State Wayside (0.5 acres each). Also of note: Willamette River Greenway-Brown’s Landing (0.37 acres), smallest parcel of the shared state and local Willamette River Greenway program.
- Pennsylvania – Park: Sand Bridge State Park (3 acres). UNCONFIRMED.
- Rhode Island – Park: Fort Wetherill State Park (61 acres). Unit: n/a.
- South Carolina – Park: Colleton State Park (35 acres). Unit: n/a.
- South Dakota – Park: Palisades State Park (157 acres). Unit: Lake Cochrane Recreational Area (88 acres).
- Tennessee – Park: Bicentennial Capital Mall State Park (19 acres). Unit: n/a.
- Texas – Park: Lipantitlan State Historic Site (5 acres). Unit: Same.
- Utah – Park: Utah Field House of Natural History State Park Museum (1.9 acres). Unit: Same. (note – Goosenecks State Park clocks in at 10 acres for those that prefer “parks” over “museums”).
- Vermont – Park: Crystal Lake State Park (16.41 acres). Unit: Rock Island State Park (0.5 acres) is, by Vermont definition, a state park, but is considered “undeveloped”.
- Virginia – Park: Tabb Monument State Park (1 acre). Unit: n/a.
- Washington – Park: Willie Keil’s Grave State Park (0.34 acres). Unit: Same.
- Wisconsin – Park: Lakeshore State Park (22 acres). Unit: n/a.
- West Virginia – Parks: Fairfax Stone State Park and Tu-Endie-Wei State Park (4 acres each). Unit: Same.
- Wyoming – Parks: Bear River State Park (324 acres). Unit: n/a.
(I’m leaving a space open for D.C. and the five major territories for the smallest parks and units that are typical of state park public land holdings in those regions).
- Washington, D.C. – Park: Unnamed City Park at 10th and French St. NW (0.123 acres). Unit: Unnamed Triangle Park at 13th St and Kentucky Ave (0.00213 acres).
- American Samoa – Park: Leala Shoreline National Natural Landmark (35 acres). Unit: Same.
- Puerto Rico – ???
- Guam – ???
- Northern Mariana Islands – ???
- US Virgin Islands – Park: Estate Adventure Nature Trail (2.5 acres). Unit: Two Brothers Cay (0.37 acres).
Fun Fact: Rhode Island (at just under 9000 acres) has the smallest state park system in the US (go figure?) while the much larger North Dakota is second lowest with just over 17,000 acres).
For comparison’s sake the smallest National Park is Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas – it checks in at a rather whopping 5549.75 acres (in comparison to the tiny state parks listed here). The smallest National Park Unit is the Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial in Pennsylvania at only 0.02 acres. Delaware is the only state in the union without a National Park unit and the Northern Marianas are the only territory not represented.