State park

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Niagara Falls State Park, New York, USA Niagara Falls 2009.jpg
Niagara Falls State Park, New York, USA
American bison in Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA Adult bison and calf, Custer State Park, South Dakota (2009-08-25).jpg
American bison in Custer State Park, South Dakota, USA
Bodie State Historical Park, California, USA Bodie Ghost Town Storm.jpg
Bodie State Historical Park, California, USA
Babcock State Park, West Virginia, USA West-virginia-autumn-grist-mill-fall-foliage.jpg
Babcock State Park, West Virginia, USA
An example of New Deal developments in U.S. state parks: Bunker Tower, Cheaha State Park, Alabama, USA Alabama4.jpg
An example of New Deal developments in U.S. state parks: Bunker Tower, Cheaha State Park, Alabama, USA
Mount Worth State Park. Victoria, Australia Mount Worth National Park02.jpg
Mount Worth State Park. Victoria, Australia

State parks are parks or other protected areas managed at the sub-national level within those nations which use "state" as a political subdivision. State parks are typically established by a state to preserve a location on account of its natural beauty, historic interest, or recreational potential. There are state parks under the administration of the government of each U.S. state, some of the Mexican states, and in Brazil. The term is also used in the Australian states of Victoria and New South Wales. [1] The equivalent term used in Canada, Argentina, South Africa, and Belgium, is provincial park. Similar systems of local government maintained parks exist in other countries, but the terminology varies.


State parks are thus similar to national parks, but under state rather than federal administration. Similarly, local government entities below state level may maintain parks, e.g., regional parks or county parks. In general, state parks are smaller than national parks, with a few exceptions such as the Adirondack Park in New York, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in California, and Wood-Tikchik State Park in Alaska, the largest state park in the United States.

State parks by country

United States of America

As of 2014, there were 10,234 state park units in the United States, according to the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). [2] There are some 739 million annual visits to the country's state parks. [2] The NASPD further counts over 43,000 miles (69,000 km) of trail, 217,367 campsites, and 8,277 cabins and lodges across U.S. state parks. [2] The largest state park system in the United States is Alaska State Parks, with over 100 sites encompassing 3.3 million acres. [3]

Many states include designations beyond "state park" in their state parks systems. Other designations might be state recreation areas, state beaches, and state nature reserves. Some state park systems include long-distance trails and historic sites. To encourage tourism in rural areas, several states have simple lodges, inns, hotels, or motels (usually with a restaurant) for lodging at some parks. These typically use "Resort" in the name, such as "_____ Resort State Park" in West Virginia state parks and "_____ State Resort Park" in neighboring Kentucky state parks, which has 17 such resort parks, the most of any state. Other states use the Resort name inconsistently (like DeGray Lake Resort State Park, the only one out of three resorts in Arkansas state parks), or have only one such park (South Carolina state parks' Hickory Knob State Resort Park), or do not use the designation at all (such as the lodges of Georgia state parks). The term "lodge" may also refer to a hiking lodge, essentially a large cabin for hikers rather than a large facility with private rooms and a restaurant. Other lodging may include yurts and tipis.

Not all parks owned by a state are necessarily part of its state-park system, such as Stone Mountain Park near Atlanta. Conversely, not all state-designated parks are entirely under state ownership, such as Adirondack Park, which uses a model more like the national parks of England and Wales. Some Texas state parks are actually a land lease from the U.S. government, while Mackinac National Park was handed down to become the first one of the Michigan state parks. As with national parks, facilities at state parks are often leased to concessionaires to operate. Breaks Interstate Park is operated under an interstate compact by Virginia state parks, although it is also one of the Kentucky state parks, straddling both sides of the state line. Other multi-state parks are legally two separate parks with the same name and more informal cooperation between them.


The title of oldest state park in the United States is claimed by Niagara Falls State Park in New York, established in 1885. [4] [5] However several public parks previously or currently maintained at the state level pre-date it. [6] Indian Springs State Park has been operated continuously by the state of Georgia as a public park since 1825, although it did not gain the title "State Park" until 1931. [7] In 1864 Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove were ceded by the federal government to California [6] until Yosemite National Park was proclaimed in 1890. [8] In 1878 Wisconsin set aside a vast swath of its northern forests as "The State Park" but, needing money, sold most of it to lumber companies within 20 years. [9] The first state park with the designation of "state park" was Mackinac Island State Park in 1895, which was first a national park before being transferred to the state of Michigan. [10]

Many state park systems date to the 1930s, when around 800 state parks (and several national ones) across the country were developed with assistance from federal job-creation programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration. [11]


See also

Denali State Park, Alaska Denalibeyersflatcalm.JPG
Denali State Park, Alaska

Related Research Articles

National Park Service United States federal agency

The National Park Service (NPS) is an agency of the federal government of the United States that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. The United States Congress created the agency on August 25, 1916 through the National Park Service Organic Act

Adirondack Park part of forest preserve in northeastern USA

The Adirondack Park is a part of New York's Forest Preserve in northeastern New York, United States. The park was established in 1892 for “the free use of all the people for their health and pleasure”, for watershed protection, and as a future timber supply. The park's boundary roughly corresponds with the Adirondack Mountains. Unlike most state parks, about 52 percent of the land is privately owned inholdings. State lands within the park are known as Forest Preserve. Land use on public and private lands in the park are regulated by the Adirondack Park Agency. This area contains 102 towns and villages, as well as numerous farms, businesses, and an active timber harvesting industry. The year-round population is 132,000, with 200,000 seasonal residents. The inclusion of human communities makes the park one of the great experiments in conservation in the industrialized world. The Forest Preserve was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1963.

Whirlpool State Park

Whirlpool State Park is a 109-acre (0.44 km2) state park located in Niagara County, New York, north of the city of Niagara Falls. The park overlooks the Niagara Whirlpool on the Niagara River and the lower Niagara Gorge.

Niagara Falls State Park State park in New York, United States

Niagara Falls State Park is a state park in the City of Niagara Falls in Niagara County, New York, United States. The park, recognized as the oldest state park in the United States, contains the American Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls, and a portion of the Horseshoe Falls.

Devils Hole State Park State park in New York, United States

Devil's Hole State Park is a 42-acre (17 ha) state park located in Niagara County, New York, north of the City of Niagara Falls. The day-use park overlooks the lower Niagara River Gorge.

Joseph Davis State Park

Joseph Davis State Park is a 388-acre (1.57 km2) state park located along the banks of the lower Niagara River in the Town of Lewiston in Niagara County, New York.

Protected areas of the United States Area subject to management by federal, state, tribal or local authorities, with variability in protection received

The protected areas of the United States are managed by an array of different federal, state, tribal and local level authorities and receive widely varying levels of protection. Some areas are managed as wilderness, while others are operated with acceptable commercial exploitation. As of 2015, the 25,800 protected areas covered 1,294,476 km2 (499,800 sq mi), or 14 percent of the land area of the United States. This is also one-tenth of the protected land area of the world. The U.S. also had a total of 787 National Marine Protected Areas, covering an additional 1,271,408 km2 (490,893 sq mi), or 12 percent of the total marine area of the United States.

Starved Rock State Park place in Illinois on the National Register of Historic Places

Starved Rock State Park is a state park in the U.S. state of Illinois, characterized by the many canyons within its 2,630 acres (1,064 ha). Located just southeast of the village of Utica, in Deer Park Township, LaSalle County, Illinois, along the south bank of the Illinois River, the park hosts over two million visitors annually, the most for any Illinois state park.

Macomb Reservation State Park

Macomb Reservation State Park is a 600-acre (2.4 km2) state park in the Town of Schuyler Falls in Clinton County, New York, United States. The park is located on the Salmon River, outside the Adirondack Park, and two miles (3.2 km) west of the hamlet of Schuyler Falls.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (NYS OPRHP) is a state agency within the New York State Executive Department charged with the operation of state parks and historic sites within the U.S. state of New York. As of 2014, the NYS OPRHP manages nearly 335,000 acres of public lands and facilities, including 180 state parks and 35 historic sites, that are visited by over 62 million visitors each year.

National Wilderness Preservation System

The National Wilderness Preservation System (NWPS) of the United States protects federally managed wilderness areas designated for preservation in their natural condition. Activity on formally designated wilderness areas is coordinated by the National Wilderness Preservation System. Wilderness areas are managed by four federal land management agencies: the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Bureau of Land Management. The term "wilderness" is defined as "an area where the earth and community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor who does not remain" and "an area of undeveloped Federal land retaining its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation, which is protected and managed so as to preserve its natural conditions." As of 2019, there are 803 designated wilderness areas, totaling 111,368,221 acres (45,069,120 ha), or about 4.5% of the area of the United States.

Gilbert Lake State Park

Gilbert Lake State Park is a 1,584-acre (6.41 km2) state park in Otsego County, New York, United States. Most of the park is in the Town of New Lisbon, in the foothills of the Catskill Mountains east of the community of New Lisbon and north of Oneonta. Gilbert Lake and Lake of the Twin Fawns are located within the park.

Mount Greylock State Reservation

Mount Greylock State Reservation is public recreation and nature preservation area on and around Mount Greylock, the highest point in the state of Massachusetts. The park covers some 12,000 acres (4,900 ha) in the towns of Lanesborough, North Adams, Adams, Cheshire, Williamstown and New Ashford, Massachusetts. It was created in 1898 as Massachusetts' first public land for the purpose of forest preservation.

National Park Service rustic Style of architecture developed in 20th century for the United States National Park Service

National Park Service rustic – sometimes colloquially called Parkitecture – is a style of architecture that developed in the early and middle 20th century in the United States National Park Service (NPS) through its efforts to create buildings that harmonized with the natural environment. Since its founding in 1916, the NPS sought to design and build visitor facilities without visually interrupting the natural or historic surroundings. The early results were characterized by intensive use of hand labor and a rejection of the regularity and symmetry of the industrial world, reflecting connections with the Arts and Crafts movement and American Picturesque architecture. Architects, landscape architects and engineers combined native wood and stone with convincingly native styles to create visually appealing structures that seemed to fit naturally within the majestic landscapes. Examples of the style can be found in numerous types of National Park structures, including entrance gateways, hotels and lodges, park roads and bridges, visitor centers, trail shelters, informational kiosks, and even mundane maintenance and support facilities. Many of these buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

History of the National Park Service aspect of history

Since 1872 the United States National Park System has grown from a single, public reservation called Yellowstone National Park to include 418 natural, historical, recreational, and cultural areas throughout the United States, its territories, and island possessions. These areas include National Parks, National Monuments, National Memorials, National Military Parks, National Historic Sites, National Parkways, National Recreation Areas, National Seashores, National Scenic Riverways, and National Scenic Trails.

Rustic architecture is a style of architecture in the United States, used in rural government and private structures and their landscape interior design. It was influenced by the American craftsman style.

Smithsonian trinomials are unique identifiers assigned to archaeological sites in many states in the United States. They are composed of one or two digits coding for the state, typically two letters coding for the county or county-equivalent within the state, and one or more sequential digits representing the order in which the site was listed in that county. The Smithsonian Institution developed the site number system in the 1930s and 1940s. The 48 states then in the union were assigned numbers in alphabetical order. Alaska was assigned number 49 and Hawaii was assigned number 50 after those states were admitted to the union. There are no Smithsonian trinomial numbers assigned for the District of Columbia or any United States territories.

Strawberry Island (New York)

Strawberry Island is an uninhabited island in the Niagara River located in Erie County, New York, southeast of Grand Island. The five-acre (2 ha) island is owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and is managed as a fish and wildlife preserve.

Mather Lodge United States historic place

Mather Lodge is a historic park facility at Petit Jean State Park in Conway County, Arkansas. It is the centerpiece of the park's developed infrastructure, providing lodging, a meeting and function space, and a restaurant for park visitors. The lodge was built in 1935 by a crew of the Civilian Conservation Corps, and is one of the fine examples of the CCC architecture of Petit Jean State Park. It is built in the Rustic style for which the CCC became well known.


  1. "Collaborative Australian Protected Area Database (CAPAD) - Terrestrial Protected Areas in Australia by Type (2014) (refer "TYPE" tab)". Department of the Environment (DoE). Retrieved 16 April 2016.
  2. 1 2 3 "State Park Facts". National Association of State Park Directors. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  3. Alaska State Parks
  4. Niagara Frontier State Parks & Recreation Commission. "The Niagara Reservation - A Historical Perspective". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Archived from the original on 2012-07-12. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
  5. "Niagara Falls State Park". New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  6. 1 2 Edmondson, Brad (2001). "Publication #72 - Environmental Affairs in New York State: A Historical Overview" (PDF). New York State Archives. pp. 7–9. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  7. "Indian Springs State Park". Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Archived from the original on 2009-03-23. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  8. "Yosemite National Park: Stories". National Park Service. 2011-01-19. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
  9. "Wisconsin State Parks through the Years". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Archived from the original on 2009-10-18. Retrieved 2011-05-20.
  10. "Mackinac Island State Park". Mackinac Island State Park Commission. Retrieved 2011-05-13.
  11. Don (2006-01-09). "The monument builders - CCC: The Depression-era corps built roads, parks and bridges, and now people are raising money for a monument to them". Duluth News Tribune. Duluth, Minn.

Further reading