(LITTLE ROCK, ARK.) – Make a New Year’s resolution to improve your health and happiness by kicking off 2020 with an invigorating First Day Hikes at an Arkansas State Park. On January 1st, Arkansas will join state parks across the country by offering unique programming as a part of this annual event. Last year nearly 55,000 people rang in the New Year, collectively hiking over 133,000 miles throughout the country on guided hikes. The First Day Hikes initiative encourages everyone to celebrate the New Year with outdoor exploration.
“So many people start the year with resolutions about seeking more authentic experiences as well as taking control of their own health and fitness,” said Arkansas State Parks Chief of Interpretation and Program Services Kelly Farrell. “With our First Day Hikes, you can put those good intentions right into action! We hope our visitors will take advantage of our programs so they can turn goals into accomplishments on day one of 2020. Whether our guests join a scheduled guided hike or take a self-guided trek on our 400+ miles of trails, we hope everyone enjoys being part of a nationwide celebration and become inspired to make visiting state parks a year-round habit.”
In Arkansas, most state parks are participating. Arkansas State Parks staff and volunteers will lead hikers along trails that will showcase the beauty of Arkansas. The distance and the difficulty of the trails vary from park to park, but the hikes are designed to benefit the entire family. You are encouraged to share your adventures on social media with #FirstDayHikes.
“This is an exciting initiative designed to help people develop a personal appreciation for our world-class state parks and the unique benefits of each park,” said Grady Spann, director of Arkansas State Parks.
Hikers can choose guided hikes that fit their comfort levels including mountain and hill-climbing, walks along lakes, exploring trails that wind through forests, and wildlife expeditions.
For more information about other opportunities to participate in an Arkansas State Park First Day Hike, go to www.arkansasstateparks.com for a listing of locations and times. Visitors can also receive information regarding the difficulty of trails, mileage, and proper attire.
“Our weather in Arkansas on January 1 is generally very mild, with temperatures topping out around 50-degrees,” Spann said. “That is absolutely perfect weather to prompt someone to get up from the holiday sofa and be reinvigorated by the fresh air and natural beauty of Arkansas State Parks.”
Join the fun! During the event, park rangers, interpreters and volunteers will share their knowledge of the state’s unique natural and cultural features. For those who enjoy bragging rights, everyone who goes on a guided hike will receive a free First Day Hike sticker – while supplies last!
The First, First Day Hike
First Day Hikes began more than 25 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, which is a state park in Massachusetts. It is sponsored by the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), which promotes and advocates for state park systems throughout the nation.
"America’s State Parks provide havens for young and old alike to discover the tranquility and beauty of nature through outdoor recreation,” NASPD Executive Director, Lewis Ledford said. “Hiking offers inspiring ways to improve your physical and mental health while exploring beautiful public lands in every state.”
About Arkansas State Parks
Arkansas State Parks is a division of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism. Arkansas state parks and museums cover 54,400 acres of forest, wetlands, fish and wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation facilities and unique historic and cultural resources. The system includes 1,100 buildings (including 183 historic structures), six National Historic Landmarks, a National Natural Landmark, 16 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, and War Memorial Stadium.
The state parks have 1,800 campsites, 1,050 picnic sites, 208 cabins, five lodges, and 415 miles of trails. Eight million visitors annually come from all regions of the country. Park staffs provide over 42,000 education programs, activities and special events to more than 700,000 participants each year.
Established in 1923, Arkansas State Parks preserve special places for future generations, provide quality recreation and education opportunities, enhance the state’s economy through tourism, and provide leadership in resource conservation.
The National Association of State Park Directors promotes and advocates for the state park systems across America in providing conservation and management of natural and cultural resources, quality outdoor recreation experiences, connecting children and families to nature and the outdoors. With more than 6,792 park areas and visitation of 813 million people annually, the economic impact on 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.