State Park Escapes: Tips for visiting

Emerald Bay State Park is a beautiful site at Lake Tahoe.

Photo by Dennis Cox/Alamy Stock Photo

Plan Ahead
Assess where you need to overnight and where a day trip will suffice. Many state parks don’t have campgrounds. Even in the ones that do, you don’t always need to overnight to enjoy the park’s highlights.

Get Wet
Camping in a state park rather than a national park can provide unexpected perks. National Parks rarely have showers for example, but the showers at state parks often are wonderful. Check ahead though—many parks restricted their showers last year because of the drought.

Avoid High Season
Many parks are best during the shoulder seasons. April to May or September to October are great for weather, beauty, discounts, and smaller crowds.

Become a Regular
If you’re planning to visit several state parks this year, consider an annual pass. With various options—including some for veterans, the disabled, and those 62 and older—a pass could save you money, and some get you free parking all year at local state beaches.

Visit the state parks website,, where you’ll find online brochures, 3-D images of trails, tips, maps, information on camping, fees, special license plates, and more.


Save money! Get a discount for Moro Cove Campground at Crystal Cove State Park until March 18. Sunday through Thursday is 40 percent off, and Friday and Saturday is 25 percent off. Go to the Reserve America page and enter the code SWEETBEACHDEAL when making your reservations.

Parks close to home: Click here to find out about state parks in Orange County.

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