As families and individuals look for ways to enjoy the wonderful summer weather, people need to look no further than our local state parks. July is Park and Recreation Month across the nation and here in New York we have many great reasons to celebrate.
Our public parks and state lands are among our greatest resources, particularly in upstate, and they fulfill a number of roles. They are a strong source of tourist dollars, drawing people from other parts of New York, neighboring states, and across the nation. Along with generating money for the state, our parks also help support many other businesses, from small grocery stores, to souvenir shops selling locally produced keepsakes, to farm stands offering homegrown fruits and vegetables.
In this time of “staycations” our parks are also one of the remaining affordable getaways for many New Yorkers. Most New York State parks charge a per vehicle fee of between $6 and $10 for day use. While there may be some additional charges for certain amenities, the price of admission is very reasonable. Even better, users can purchase an Empire Passport which provides unlimited day access to most state parks and recreation facilities for just $65 a year. That’s less than a one night stay at most hotels. There are also special reduced rate programs available for individuals with permanent disabilities and senior citizens. Additionally, a member of the New York State Militia or any branch of the New York State National Guard or military reserves who is currently serving on active duty in support of the war on terrorism is eligible for one free Empire Passport for use by his or her immediate family during deployment and/or for his or her own use when returning home.