Arkansas State Parks to Host Spring Break Programs and Activities March 19-28

For Immediate Release

Little Rock -- Families with grade school or college-age students know that Arkansas’s spring break begins tomorrow. This year’s dates for spring recess are March 19-28. The state parks of Arkansas are naturals for spring break getaways. They are family-friendly destinations in which to experience the outdoors, enjoy quality recreational and educational opportunities, and make memories to cherish. Every community in Arkansas has at least one state park within an hour’s drive. Park staffs are planning a wide variety of programs and activities to host during spring break. Park interpreters in over 20 state parks have scheduled daily programs including guided nature hikes, kayak tours, arts and crafts, hands-on workshops, historic site tours, and more. Programs are scheduled at different times throughout the day, with additional evening activities such as night hikes, campfires, and owl prowls. In addition, many historic state parks are offering daily tours. Many programs are offered free of charge. Those requiring fees include most lake cruises, kayak tours, and historic site tours. Fees are minimal in most cases.

Arkansans are encouraged to search the Arkansas State Parks online calendar of events to find programs that fit their family’s schedule. Programs, workshops, activities, and special events are detailed at: www.arkansasstateparks.com/things-to-do/calendar-events/. Web visitors can customize the online search by date, park location, city, zip code, and keyword (such as "kayak," "archeology," or "birding"). Besides scheduled, interpreter-led programs, the state parks provide facilities and settings for numerous other activities such as camping, lodging, geocaching, hiking, mountain biking, birding, wildlife watching, and exploring Arkansas history. The parks offer access to 29 lakes and 12 rivers. Park visitor centers feature engaging, state-of-the-art exhibits on a wide array of topics including nature study, archeology, geology, history, and more.

Diversity is the hallmark of Arkansas’s state park system. Arkansas’s 52 state parks cover 54,165 acres of varied natural landscapes and treasured historic sites. In addition to campgrounds, cabins, hotel-like lodges, and museums, the park system includes the Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas’s diamond site, situated atop the world’s eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area. The Ozark Folk Center State Park at Mountain View, a community dubbed the Folk Music Capital of the World, is an American cultural treasure and the only state park in the U.S. dedicated to the perpetuation and interpretation of the heritage of the Ozark region, its homestead crafts, pioneer skills, music and folklore. The park system’s Civil War battle sites include Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park, recognized by the American Battlefield Protection Program as one of America’s most intact Civil War battle sites. At Historic Washington State Park, the state’s premier frontier village, visitors can tour carefully restored 19th-century former residences and public buildings featuring museum quality antiques, and see the finest collection of guns in Arkansas featuring over 600 types of firearms and hand-forged Bowie knives. Toltec Mounds Archeological State Park and Parkin Archeological State Park, both operated in conjunction with the Arkansas Archeological Survey, are National Historic Landmark sites that preserve and interpret prehistoric American Indian mound sites and serve as archeological research stations. Mammoth Spring State Park is at the site of Arkansas’s largest spring, a National Natural Landmark, and the source of the Spring River. Twenty-two of Arkansas's state parks contain nationally recognized structures or property [recognized as a National Natural Landmark, National Historic Landmark or listed on the National Register of Historic Places]. Logoly State Park and Pinnacle Mountain State Park serve as regional environmental education centers.

Many parents today are expressing concern about children’s growing detachment from nature, which Richard Louv described as “nature deficit disorder” in his bestseller, Last Child in the Woods. Louv’s 2005 book launched a national movement to connect families and kids to the outdoors, something Arkansas’s state parks have been doing since the late 1930s when our first state park, Petit Jean State Park, opened to the public. Arkansas’s 52 state parks provide fun, safe settings for families with children to enjoy. The state parks are special places where connections to nature and remarkable historic sites take place, and family memories are made. Parks are very much about visitor experiences. The parks are about the trails people walk, the lakes and rivers they paddle, the campfires and storytelling they enjoy, the owls they hear, and the family photos that are taken and treasured.

Parks are ideal for day trips, or for spending the entire spring break week. Campsite, cabin and lodge guest room reservations can be made online at ArkansasStateParks.com, the state park system’s official Web site. The site features details about the 52 parks; hundreds of photos including campsite choices and the interiors of park cabins and lodge guest rooms; videos of the parks; trip ideas; a calendar of events; and more. For a free copy of the Arkansas State Parks 2010 guidebook, the 80-page full-color guide to the 52 state parks, call: 1-888-AT-PARKS.

For further information, contact: Joan Ellison, public information officer, Arkansas State Parks, 1 Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201. Phone: 501-682-2873. E-mail: joan.ellison@arkansas.gov.

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