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America's Most Unique State Parks



John Pennekamp State Park in Key Largo, Fla. is truly special. It offers an exploration of the Atlantic Ocean, and goes down in history as the first underwater park in the United States. Including the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, there are 178 nautical miles of coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove swamps in the park, offering over 600 species of tropical fish and other marine wildlife to see.

What makes it even more unique is the underwater Christ of the Abyss statue, which stands at over eight feet tall and weighs 4,000 pounds. It was donated to the Underwater Society of America and placed in John Pennekamp State Park in 1965.

If you want to make your vacation pay for itself, head to Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas. It's the world's only diamond-bearing site open to the public. Can you really find diamonds there? Yes. In 1924, a 40.23 carat sparkler was found, and a 6.35 carat stone was mined in 2006.

For more unique sites, try Alaska's Chugach State Park where you can spot a wide variety of wildlife, including whales, moose and bears. If you want to go inland, Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada should be on your list. It's the oldest and largest park in the state, and is located just one hour north of Las Vegas. The area is known for its hiking trails, campgrounds and awe-inspiring rock formations.

So, if you're looking for an uncommon vacation experience, head for a state park. You may just find the experience of a lifetime.

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