VA – Governor McAuliffe Commemorates Anniversaries of State and National Park Systems

Governor McAuliffe Commemorates Anniversaries of State and National Park Systems


RICHMOND – Governor Terry McAuliffe celebrated 80 years of Virginia State Parks and the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service today at Westmoreland State Park, one of the original six Virginia State Parks opened on this date in 1936.

Westmoreland State Park is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register. Located along the Potomac River on Virginia’s Northern Neck, this ecological and historical gem is minutes from the birthplaces of both George Washington and Robert E. Lee. Park amenities include an Olympic-sized swimming pool, an event hall, fishing, six miles of trails, camping, cabins, a resort-like retreat capable of accommodating 16 people, and a fossil beach littered with ancient shark’s teeth.

“Virginia’s State Parks are some of the best kept and most beautiful parks in the country, and these anniversaries are a testament to the Commonwealth’s century-old commitment to our natural resources and the great outdoors,” said Governor McAuliffe. “Increasing public access to our natural treasures has been a consistent priority for our administration, and I’m thrilled by the progress we’ve made through strategic investments in infrastructure and conservation. Our stewardship today is laying the groundwork for another 80 years of successful state parks and for future generations to enjoy Virginia’s natural beauty.”

Festivities included the unveiling of a newly rebuilt fountain, constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) before its closure in 1942. The water feature was restored with support from the Garden Club of the Northern Neck and the Friends of Westmoreland State Park, as well as a generous private contribution from former Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Tayloe Murphy and his wife, Helen. Earl Jenkins, a local stone mason, worked with trained teenagers from the Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) to restore the fountain.

Governor McAuliffe and Deputy Director Denise Ryan from the National Park Service planted an oak tree to celebrate the event. The ceremony concluded with the burial of a time capsule containing items donated by the Governor and state and national park staff. Afterward, state and national park rangers led attendees on an educational hike culminating at the CCC-constructed log cabins at Campground C.

“Virginia State Parks would never have flourished into the incredible system we have today were it not for the unwavering devotion of its current and former staff,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “Every park in the Commonwealth is packed with knowledgeable stewards committed to building upon the legacy of conservation and visitor satisfaction they have inherited.”

In addition to their joint anniversary celebration, Virginia State Parks and the National Park Service are partnering to promote Find Your Park, a year-long campaign to encourage people to enjoy the outdoors and experience the parks in their communities. More information on this exciting initiative can be found at

“I’m thrilled to share this anniversary celebration with our friends at the National Park Service. Both groups work every day to preserve and share Virginia’s wild spaces, and we’ve come to appreciate just how effective we are when we work together. The Find Your Park initiative is a great success that cements a partnership that will continue for years to come,” said Virginia State Parks Director Craig Seaver.

Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. For more information about Virginia State Parks activities and amenities or to make a reservation for one of the more than 1,800 campsites or 300 climate-controlled cabins, call the Virginia State Parks Customer Care Center at 800-933-7275 or visit

– See more at:

First Day Hikes in America’s State Parks Offer Invigorating Start to the New Year

Find a First Day Hike in Your State

National Association of State Park Directors
P.O. Box 91567 Raleigh, NC 27675
(919) 218-9222
For Immediate Release
December 14, 2015
Contact: Lewis Ledford
919 218-9222,

First Day Hikes in America’s State Parks Offer
Invigorating Start to the New Year

Hashtag Your Hike:  #FirstDayHikes

Make a New Year’s resolution to your health and happiness by kicking off 2016 with an invigorating First Day Hike at a state park near you. On January 1, all 50 states will be participating in the fifth annual national event that encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with a guided outdoor exploration.

“First Day Hikes offer families the opportunity to rejuvenate and reconnect with nature on guided outdoor adventures,” National Association of State Park Directors President Domenic Bravo said. “There are shorter options for families with young children, to longer treks for adventure seekers. State parks offer stunning views, unique cultural and historical experiences, and wintering wildlife for everyone to enjoy.”

Through the event, park rangers, naturalists and volunteers will share their knowledge of each state’s unique natural and cultural features. Adventures include a trek along a rail trail in Arkansas’ Delta Heritage Trail State Park, an expansive mountain view from atop the renovated fire tower in Georgia’s Fort Mountain State Park, and a Missouri hike amongst sinkholes, a geologic fault and serene woodlands in Ha Ha Tonka State Park. This year, many locations are including pet-friendly hikes, such as Greenbrier and Patapsco Valley state parks in Maryland.  Details on every state’s hikes are located at Participants are encouraged to log their adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes.

“America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to explore the beauty and serenity of nature through outdoor recreation,” National Association of State Park Directors Executive Director Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health, while discovering beautiful public lands in every state.”

First Day Hikes originated more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation – a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. Last year, more than 41,000 people participated on guided hikes that covered over 79,000 miles on 997 hikes across the country.

This year’s event coincides with the celebration of the 100 years of stewardship of natural resources and outdoor recreation by the National Park Service and two state park systems:  Indiana and North Carolina.  National Park Service’s Centennial, Indiana State Parks Centennial Celebration, North Carolina State Parks – Celebrate Our Centennial. 

The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing for conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors, and more. With more than 10,200 park areas and visitation of 740 million annually, the economic impact to local communities is estimated to exceed $20 billion each year. America’s State Parks is an alliance of state park systems in all 50 states.


Media Contacts: 

National Association of State Park Directors
Lewis Ledford, Executive Director:, 919-218-9222
Domenic Bravo, President & Administrator of Wyoming State Parks:, 307-777-6324

Download Press Release

Pilot Mountain SP

Pilot Mountain SP

Steamboat Lake SP, CO

Steamboat Lake SP, CO

Taughannock SP, NY

Taughannock SP, NY


America’s State Parks Join REI to #OptOutside on Black Friday

National Association of State Park Directors
P.O. Box 91567 Raleigh, NC 27675
(919) 218-9222
For Immediate Release
November 20, 2015
Contact: Lewis Ledford
919 218-9222,

America’s State Parks Join REI to #OptOutside on Black Friday

Raleigh – America’s State Parks has joined REI, the nation’s largest consumer co-op and specialty outdoor retailer, and its effort to offer the outdoors as a healthy, carefree, natural alternative to the massive Black Friday crowds of holiday shoppers.

In October, REI announced plans to close its doors on Black Friday (November 27) at all 143 of its retail locations, headquarters and two distribution centers. Instead of reporting to work, the co-op is paying its 12,000 employees so they can do what they love most – be outside. The co-op is inviting the nation to join in by choosing to #OptOutside to reconnect with family and friends this Thanksgiving holiday.

Jerry Stritzke, president and CEO of REI, said, “Black Friday is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the essential truth that life is richer, more connected and complete when you choose to spend it outside. We’re closing our doors, paying our employees to get out there, and inviting America to #OptOutside with us because we love great gear, but we are even more passionate about the experiences it unlocks.”

State parks representatives suggest they have the perfect places for all those who want to “Opt Outside.” With more than 10,000 parks, historic sites, trails and more, state park areas are close to home. They offer a convenient and exceptional venue, with magnificent vistas, a tapestry of trails and a myriad of recreational opportunities to rejuvenate the mind and even work off the calories absorbed from the turkey, stuffing, yams, pumpkin pies that may be consumed on Thanksgiving Day.  As of today, the following have created a different type of Black Friday promotion:

“America’s State Parks welcome people who venture out early to get the best deals and need to decompress in the afternoon, as well as those who prefer to avoid the crowds completely and wish to spend the day enjoying the tranquility and peaceful escapes offered in our parks” said Lewis Ledford, executive director of the National Association of State Park Directors. “Parks are a tonic for the mind, body and spirit at any time of the year.  These experiences can be unlocked without a key and within a short drive from home virtually anywhere in the country.”

America’s State Parks are to explore and experience. They encompass more than 18 million acres and provide for grand diversity – both remote and local in their offerings – and provide important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy.

In an effort to get even more people to #OptOutside on Black Friday, the platform is making it easy for Outdoor Organizers across the United States to host Meetups – including at many state parks – and anyone who wants to #OptOutside is welcome to join. You can find #OptOutside Meetups near you from the hundreds already scheduled at

“There are 4 million Outdoor Meetup members who enjoy all that state parks have to offer, all year long,” said Kristin Hodgson, Communications Director at Meetup. “We are thrilled to join forces with REI and the state parks to encourage people to #OptOutside this Black Friday and grateful to the Meetup Organizers who are leading their members to take part.”

Promoting and advancing the state park systems of America for their own significance, as well as for their important contributions to the nation’s environment, heritage, health and economy.

Download press release

Tennessee State Parks to Host After Thanksgiving Day Hikes

Each of the 56 State Parks Will Host a Hike

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee State Parks will offer free, guided hikes at all 56 of its parks on Friday, November 27, the day after Thanksgiving. This is the second year for this event, and one in a series of five statewide hikes throughout the year.

“The After Thanksgiving Hikes are a perfect way to spend time with family and friends,” said TDEC Commissioner Bob Martineau. “Our parks are beautiful this time of year, and we want everyone to enjoy what our parks have to offer.”

Tennessee State Parks is also partnering with REI Co-op, the nation’s largest consumer and specialty outdoor retailer, on their #OptOutside campaign. REI is closing the doors of 143 of its retail locations and has instead asked their employees to do what they love most, which is enjoying the outdoors.

“We are thrilled to continue our partnership with REI on this as they’ve been a big supporter of several of our Tennessee State Parks projects.” said Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill. “While REI is challenging its employees and customers to get outside on black Friday, we challenge all of these folks to visit a Tennessee State Park that day and see what we have to offer.”

The hikes are designed for all ages and abilities. Some hikes will be approximately one mile in length and tailored for novice hikers, while others are lengthier and geared toward more experienced hikers. For a more in-depth look at hikes in your area, visit This link will also show what is offered regionally so visitors can see different options of hikes available.

To help aspiring adventurers choose how to #OptOutside, features recommended hiking trails, which include many Tennessee State Parks. We encourage visitors on social media to use #TNgobblewobble and #OptOutside to share their trail experience.

For more information, please visit


After Thanksgiving Day Hikes ‪#‎TNgobblewobble Photo Contest!

Send us your best photo from Friday, November 27 that represents the great outdoors from one of the 56 Tennessee State Parks. If your photo is chosen as the winner, you’ll win a free weekend getaway from Tennessee State Parks. Winner will have a choice between a two night stay in a cabin or an inn.


  1. Take a photograph during your After Thanksgiving Day Hike
  2. Send us your photo on Facebook ( or Twitter (@TennStateParks) by Monday, November 30.
  3. Use hashtags #TNgobblewobble and #OptOutside
  4. Our marketing team will select the winner based on the photo that best illustrates the great outdoors and all that our Tennessee State Parks have to offer!


Wreath Making
James L. Goodwin Conservation Center, 23 Potter Road, Hampton, CT
Friday, November 27th
10:00 am-12:00 pm
OR 1:00 pm-3:00 pm

Don’t waste your Friday off at the mall! Spend time with friends and family and make a seasonal wreath to hang on your door! For more information or to register please contact Emma Lorusso at or call 860-455-9534.

Holiday at the Farm

Osbornedale State Park, Osborne Homestead Museum, 500 Hawthorne Ave., Derby, CT

Friday, November 27, 10 AM – PM

Celebrate the holidays at the Osborne Homestead Museum and learn about Connecticut agriculture and the legacy of Osborndale Farm!  Each room will be beautifully decorated to the theme of “Holiday at the Farm” focusing on the animals of the farm and crops grown in Connecticut. The holiday tours will run from Friday, November 27th through Saturday, December 19.  After the tour take a walk on the trails of Osbornedale State Park and enjoy the beautiful fields, forest and ponds across street.

Happy Thanksgiving!