5 Obscure National Parks

The National Park Service, which is preparing to celebrate its centennial next year, set a record for guests in 2014 with 292.8 million visits.

Located on top of a hill the modern Visitor Center overlooks the colonial and early-1800s iron plantation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Located on top of a hill the modern Visitor Center at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site overlooks the colonial and early-1800s iron plantation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The previous record was set in 1999, when slightly more than 287.1 million people visited the parks. Visits were up 7 percent over 2013, when parks closed during a 16-day government shutdown.

The park service also released the list of most- and least-visited park sites in 2014. There were no real surprises on the most-visited list. The top five were the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Lincoln Memorial, and Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

But the list of least-visited park sites offered a few surprises.

Places such as the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve in Alaska are understandable because of their remoteness.

But a few seem as if they should attract more visitors.

Nicodemus National Historic Site in Kansas is the oldest and only remaining black settlement in the American West. Founded by freed blacks from Kentucky in 1877, the town provided a refuge for African-Americans fleeing the post-Reconstruction South. The visitors center is in the 1939 Township Hall. Visitors can also take a walking tour to see five historic buildings. The site had 3,374 visitors last year.

The inhabitants of Hovenweep were part of the large farming culture which occupied the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The inhabitants of Hovenweep were part of the large farming culture which occupied the Four Corners region of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Eugene O’Neill National Historic Site near Danville, California, includes the home of America’s only Nobel Prize-winning playwright. Visitors can take a free guided tour of the retreat that O’Neill dubbed Tao House and where he wrote Long Day’s Journey Into Night and four other plays. But the site can be visited only via park service shuttle from Danville, which, perhaps, discourages some potential guests. The site had 3,202 visitors in 2014.

Below are five of our favorite obscure, off the beaten path national parks, where crowds and jam-packed roads and parking areas are not an issue even during the peak summer travel season. Each is special in its own way.

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Pennsylvania

2014 visitor count: 48,105

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is the best preserved iron plantation in North America.

Hopewell Furnace consists of a mansion (the big house), spring and smoke houses, blacksmith shop, office store, charcoal house, and a schoolhouse.

In about 1100, the Anasasi settled near the present town of Aztec. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
In about 1100, the Anasasi settled near the present town of Aztec. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hovenweep National Monument, Utah

2014 visitor count: 26,808

A Ute word meaning “deserted valley”, Hovenweep is the site of six separate pueblo settlements, and probably more, considering that most of the 784 acres at Hovenweep have yet to be excavated. The monument is noted for its solitude, clear skies and undeveloped, natural character.

Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico

2014 visitor count: 44,721

In about 1110, a wandering band of Anasazi, a skilled farming people looking for a new home selected a high ridge along the west bank of the Animas River, opposite the present town of Aztec. They constructed a large dwelling of sculptured and fitted stones. Built over a four-year period, it was an E-shaped structure of about 400 rooms and 24 kivas that reached three stories high in places.

discover this authentic Navajo trading post
Take some time to discover this authentic Navajo trading post and original 160 acre homestead. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site, Arizona

2014 visitor count: 81,475

Very little has changed in more than a century at Hubbell Trading Post, the oldest continuously operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. The post, its thick stone walls protecting visitors from the blazing summers and frigid winters of the high desert, continues to lure buyers and sellers alike.

El Morro National Monument, New Mexico

2014 visitor count: 46,256

Rising 200 feet above the valley floor, El Morro’s Inscription Rock bears witness to over 700 years of history. Drawn here by its secluded spring–fed water hole, Anasazi/Zuni traders, Spanish Conquistadores, and Anglo cultures marked their passing by carving 2,000 petroglyphs and inscriptions on Inscription Rock, a soft sandstone monolith.

El Morro National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
El Morro National Monument © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Worth Pondering…

Traveling is almost like talking with men of other centuries.

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Hopewell Furnace: Early American Iron Plantation

In the woods of southeastern Pennsylvania, a community of men, women, and children worked to supply iron for the growing nation during the 18th and 19th centuries. They created a village called Hopewell that was built around an iron-making furnace.

Located on top of a hill the modern Visitor Center overlooks the colonial and early-1800s iron plantation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Located on top of a hill the modern Visitor Center overlooks the colonial and early-1800s iron plantation. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is the best preserved iron plantation in North America.

Hopewell Furnace consists of a mansion (the big house), spring and smoke houses, blacksmith shop, office store, charcoal house, and a schoolhouse.

From 1771 to 1883, Hopewell Furnace manufactured iron goods to fill the demands of growing eastern cities like Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore. While the most profitable items were stoves, the furnace cast many other objects such as kettles, machinery, grates, and cannon shot and shells for patriot forces during the Revolutionary War.

As technology progressed, the furnace eventually became outdated. In 1883, it closed, and the furnace workers and their families left to make their living elsewhere. They left behind their homes, work buildings, tools, and other evidence of the iron-making community that once thrived.

The 15-minute introductory film shown in the visitors center focuses on many topics including how Ironmaster Mark Bird (a colonel and quartermaster in the Continental Army) supported Washington’s forces with cannon, shot, shell, and even flour.© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The 15-minute introductory film shown in the visitors center focuses on many topics including how Ironmaster Mark Bird (a colonel and quartermaster in the Continental Army) supported Washington’s forces with cannon, shot, shell, and even flour.© Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Today the remains of Hopewell Furnace represent an important time in America’s maturation as a nation. The production of iron in hundreds of small furnaces like Hopewell provided the key ingredient in America’s industrial revolution, enabling the United States to become an economic and technological leader worldwide.

Located on top of a hill the modern Visitor Center overlooks the colonial and early-1800s iron plantation that used slave and free labor.

The 15-minute introductory film focuses on many topics including how Ironmaster Mark Bird (a colonel and quartermaster in the Continental Army) supported Washington’s forces with cannon, shot, shell, and even flour. The furnace produced 115 big guns for the Continental Navy. Other items once produced at the site included plowshares, pots, stoves, and scale weights.

Hopewell Furnace consists of 14 restored structures in the core historic area, 52 features on the National Register of Historic Places, and a total of 848 mostly wooded acres. The park’s museum contains nearly 300,000 artifacts and archival items related to the site’s history.

Hopewell Furnace consists of 14 restored structures in the core historic area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
Hopewell Furnace consists of 14 restored structures in the core historic area. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The impressive blast furnace and 30-foot water wheel, ironmaster’s mansion, workers’ quarters, a living farm, charcoal maker’s hut (otherwise known as a collier’s hut), and other structures illustrate the historic infrastructure typical of the charcoal-iron making process.

What today’s visitors will not find are the noise, heat, and pollution that were ever-present in the community during the heyday of iron production.

Hopewell Furnace lies at the center of 848-acre French Creek State Park and consists of 14 restored structures as well as the paths, fields, and meadows of the one-time working village. The buildings include a blast furnace, the ironmaster’s mansion, and auxiliary structures.

Today, the site is an interesting visit for the hikers, backpackers, and campers who are spending time at French Creek State Park. Bird-watchers and nature photographers as well as history buffs enjoy the tours, and picnics are encouraged.

Did You Know?

Cold blast charcoal-fired iron furnaces like Hopewell Furnace were in operation in Pennsylvania as early as 1720. Between 1832 and 1840, 32 such furnaces were built in the state. The U.S. census of 1840 recorded 212 charcoal-fired furnaces operating in Pennsylvania that year.

The park's museum contains nearly 300,000 artifacts and archival items related to the site's history. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved
The park’s museum contains nearly 300,000 artifacts and archival items related to the site’s history. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Details

Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site

Directions: 5 miles south of Birdsboro, PA, off of Route 345

Address: 2 Mark Bird Lane, Elverson, PA 19520

Phone: (610) 582-8773

Website: www.nps.gov/hofu

Entrance Fees: Free Admittance

Worth Pondering…

Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday, placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting, so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear. Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of, giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.

—Freya Stark

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RVC Outdoor Destinations Reflags Lake Raystown Resort

RVC Outdoor Destinations announces that it has re-flagged Lake Raystown Resort as an RVC Outdoor Destination.

RVC Outdoor Destinations Reflags Lake Raystown Resort
RVC Outdoor Destinations Reflags Lake Raystown Resort

The Entriken, Pennsylvania, property was developed by Jules Patt in 1984 and is one of the finest outdoor destinations in the country, RVC noted in a news release.

Lake Raystown Resort’s addition into the RVC collection of premium outdoor hospitality properties will coincide with its 30th anniversary.

The resort’s new website (SEE link below) has been completed to provide guests with a superior online experience as they research the resort’s features and lodging options, the company noted.

Brother and sister duo, Josh Patt and Samantha Patt Kozak, purchased their father’s interest in Lake Raystown Resort in 2013 and continue to operate the more than 400-acre property that includes a 52 room lodge, 79 cabins and villas, 221 RV sites, a 650- slip marina, the Wild River Water Park, and a 22,000-square-foot state-of-the-art conference center.

Various improvements and upgrades, including new signage, are underway and will be completed when the property opens for the 2014 season April 11.

RVC Outdoor Destinations Reflags Lake Raystown Resort
RVC Outdoor Destinations Reflags Lake Raystown Resort

Patt, co-owner of Lake Raystown Resort commented, “We have long believed there was a need for change in outdoor hospitality and found that RVC was leading the charge in redefining camping. Lake Raystown Resort fits RVC’s Outdoor Destination model, and we are pleased to be a part of the RVC family.

“Samantha and I and the resort’s staff are excited to kick off the 2014 season,” he added.

“We have so many reasons to be excited; it’s our first year as an RVC Outdoor Destination, it is Lake Raystown Resort’s 30th anniversary, and it is the 40th anniversary of the dedication of the Raystown dam.”

“This year is going to be full of activities and celebrations. We encourage everyone to visit our beautiful new website and stay tuned for upcoming events and the latest resort news,” said Kozak.

In addition to Lake Raystown Resort, RVC currently operates Outdoor Destinations and RV Resorts in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

Details

Lake Raystown Resort

RVC Outdoor Destinations Reflags Lake Raystown Resort
RVC Outdoor Destinations Reflags Lake Raystown Resort

Lake Raystown Resort is located in the lush setting of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania next to Raystown Lake, the largest lake that is entirely within the state. Centrally located, it’s an easy drive from all points in Pennsylvania. It’s also a short trip from the Baltimore and Washington D.C. metro areas.

Location: 4 miles from the intersection of Rt. 26 and Rt. 994 in James Creek, PA

Address: 3101 Chipmunk Crossing, Entriken, PA 16638

Phone: (814) 658-3500

Website: rvcoutdoors.com/lake-raystown-resort

RVC Outdoor Destinations

RVC Outdoor Destinations develops, owns, and operates a portfolio of high-quality outdoor hospitality properties located within some of the country’s most beautiful natural settings and offering upscale services and amenities.

Memphis, Tennessee-based RVC is redefining the traditional camping experience with its original Outdoor Destination concept and upgraded RV resorts that provide guests with a comfortable, customizable, outdoor vacation through a variety of affordable lodging options, including RV sites, yurts, cabins, and cottages, all with enhanced guest amenities and recreational activities.

RVC operates 10 Outdoor Destinations and RV Resorts in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

Address: 429 N Main Street, Suite 100, Memphis, Tennessee 38103

Phone: (901) 432-4748

Website: rvcoutdoors.com

 Worth Pondering…

The grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never dried all at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor is ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal dawn and gloaming, on sea and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.
— John Muir

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Lake Raystown Resort Re-Flagged as RVC Outdoor Destinations

Memphis, Tennessee-based RVC Outdoor Destinations, the leading provider of high-quality outdoor resorts in the United States, announced today (July 23) that Lake Raystown Resort will be re-flagged as an RVC Outdoor Destination in March of 2014.

RVC Outdoor Destinations-image001The Entriken, Pennsylvania property was developed by Jules Patt in 1984 and is one of the finest outdoor destinations in the country.

Lake Raystown Resort’s addition into the RVC collection of premium outdoor hospitality properties will coincide with its 30th Anniversary.

Brother and sister duo, Josh Patt and Samantha Patt Kozak, recently purchased their father’s interest in Lake Raystown Resort and continue to operate the over 400-acre property that includes a 52 room Lodge, 79 cabins and villas, 221 RV sites, a 650 slip marina, the Wild River Water Park, and a 22,000 square foot state of the art Conference Center.

Lake Raystown Resort is the second separately owned property to be flagged an RVC Outdoor Destination.

In addition to providing long-term asset management and branding, RVC will provide capital for improvements and expansion.

“We are very excited to have Samantha and Josh joining the RVC movement and honored that they are adding their wonderful Lake Raystown Resort to RVC’s collection of upscale outdoor recreational properties,” said Andy Cates, RVC’s President.

“They are great operators who add a lot to what we do, and their property is already one of the best outdoor destinations in the country. RVC is redefining outdoor recreation and camping by providing unique environments that provide a consistently high-quality guest experience.”

 Lake Raystown Resort (Source: raystownresort.com)
Lake Raystown Resort (Source: raystownresort.com)

“Our family has been committed to high quality outdoor hospitality for three decades,” said Josh Patt, co-owner.

“RVC is the first company and brand that reflects what we have developed at Lake Raystown Resort. Also, they bring collaborative resources and support that will allow Lake Raystown Resort to grow and improve.”

His sister and co-owner Samantha Patt Kozak added, “Ever since I first read about what RVC was doing, I was excited because their efforts were so similar to what we have been doing here for many years. We have always searched for a way to expand our market reach and to be a part of something larger, and after spending over a year getting to know the RVC team and seeing some of their resorts, we are very pleased to be a part of the RVC family.”

Details

RVC Outdoor Destinations

RVC Outdoor Destinations develops, owns, and operates a portfolio of high-quality outdoor hospitality properties located within some of the country’s most beautiful natural settings and offering upscale services and amenities.

Memphis, Tennessee-based RVC is redefining the traditional camping experience with its original Outdoor Destination concept and upgraded RV resorts that provide guests with a comfortable, customizable, outdoor vacation through a variety of affordable lodging options, including RV sites, yurts, cabins, and cottages, all with enhanced guest amenities and recreational activities.

RVC operates eight Outdoor Destinations and RV Resorts in Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, and North Carolina.

Address: 429 N Main Street, Suite 100, Memphis, Tennessee 38103

Phone: (901) 432-4748

Website: rvcoutdoors.com

Lake Raystown Resort, Lodge & Conference Center

Lake Raystown Resort map (Source: raystownresort.com)
Lake Raystown Resort map (Source: raystownresort.com)

In business since 1984, Lake Raystown Resort, Lodge & Conference Center is Central Pennsylvania’s top destination for family fun. Family owned and operated the resort continues to provide affordable family vacations.

Our 221, star rated, campsites have water, electric, and cable hook-ups, and are unmatched in proximity to the lake. Bring your tent, popup, travel trailer, fifth wheel, or motorhome because we have the perfect site for you.

Lake Raystown Resort, Lodge & Conference Center is located in rural Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania on 400 acres of beautiful waterfront property. Known as Pennsylvania’s Crown Jewel, Raystown Lake is 28 miles long with over 8,300 acres of water and 118 miles of shoreline.

Address: 3101 Chipmunk Crossing, Entriken, PA 16638

Phone: (814) 658-3500

Website: raystownresort.com

Worth Pondering…

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

—Peter Drucker

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Pennsylvania Becomes RV Friendly

Pennsylvania now welcomes RVers with the official “RV Friendly” logo along its highways designed to let travelers know which businesses can accommodate their RVs.

‘RV Friendly’ signage

The Key Stone State recently adopted the popular “RV Friendly” highway sign for use in the state’s local business logo program. The sign is a highly-visible, round, bright yellow reflector with “RV” in the center, according to a news release.

It is designed for roadside businesses—such as gas stations, restaurants, tourist attractions, and lodging/camping facilities—to place on their existing highway gas-food-lodging logos indicating their ability to provide adequate space and resources for RVers.

“We are so excited that the ‘RV Friendly’ logo signs have been approved,” said Rebecca Lenington, executive vice president of the Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA).

“We’ve been working on this for a while and feel it is a win-win for both RVers and local businesses.”

Lenington said the “RV Friendly” signs prove to be a valuable tool for RVers since they can easily tell which businesses are convenient for them to shop, eat, or fuel up.

Businesses must meet certain requirements in order to be “RV Friendly” such as having high canopies, an adequate turning radius, and 12-foot wide lanes.

Details

Pennsylvania RV and Camping Association (PRVCA)

Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle and Camping Association (PRVCA) is a nonprofit corporation representing nearly 400 RV dealers, manufacturers, campgrounds, component part suppliers, lenders, insurance, and service companies.

Address: 4000 Trindle Road, Camp Hill, PA 17011

Phone: (717) 303-0295 or (888) 303-2887 (toll free)

Worth Pondering…

Recreational vehicles are wonderful… To travel by RV is to see nature and human beings, towns and churches and rivers, in fact, to see life.
—with apologies to Agatha Christie

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Pennsylvania State Parks Offers Special Deal for First-Time Campers

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) is again partnering with Gander Mountain to provide first-time campers with needed gear and a reservation for two nights at a participating state park for just $20.

“This is the second year we are offering this hands-on instruction on camping and we’ve added five additional parks to the original 14,” DCNR Secretary Richard Allan said in a news release.

“You can’t beat this offer as far as the cost; the opportunity to enjoy many other activities at our state parks such as hiking and fishing; and a park staffer will even help you set up camp.”

Nineteen state parks around the state are participating in the program. The parks and their locations are:

  • Black Moshannon, Centre County
  • Caledonia, Franklin County
  • Chapman, Warren County
  • Colonel Denning, Cumberland County
  • Cook Forest/Clear Creek, Clarion and Jefferson counties
  • Gifford Pinchot, York County
  • Hills Creek, Tioga County
  • Keystone, Westmoreland County
  • Lackawanna, Lackawanna County
  • Laurel Hill, Somerset County
  • Little Pine, Lycoming County
  • Locust Lake, Schuylkill County
  • Ole Bull, Potter County
  • Parker Dam, Clearfield County
  • Promised Land, Pike County
  • Pymatuning, Crawford County
  • R.B. Winter, Union County
  • Ryerson Station, Greene County
  • Sinnemahoning, Cameron and Potter counties
The 1,445-acre Lackawanna State Park is in northeastern Pennsylvania, ten miles north of Scranton. The centerpiece of the park, the 198-acre Lackawanna Lake, is surrounded by picnic areas and multi-use trails winding through forest. Boating, camping, fishing, biking and swimming are popular recreation activities. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The program will run from Memorial Day weekend through the summer.

The gear provided for use by Gander Mountain and DCNR is a four-person tent, rain tarp, four sleeping pads, four camp chairs, flashlight, lantern, camp stove, and four hot dog/marshmallow sticks.

The gear must be returned upon departure.

Participants will need to bring their own food, cooking utensils, and bedding. Suggested packing lists will be provided.

“Our love of nature often begins in our childhood if we have the opportunity to connect with the outdoors, so we especially encourage parents to take advantage of this affordable opportunity to create some wonderful family memories,” Allan said.

Last summer, in the program’s first year, there were 180 reservations made to participate, with more than half of those who took a survey saying they had never before visited a Pennsylvania state park.

Almost 500 people experienced camping in a state park for the first time last year.

Details

Pennsylvania State Parks

Surrounded by Elk State Forest, Sinnemahoning is on the First Fork of the Sinnemahoning Creek and has picturesque views of the surrounding mountains and deep valleys. There is an abundance of wildlife, including nesting bald eagles, elk, and many birds and butterflies. (Source: visitPAParks.com)

With 120 state parks covering about 300,000 acres, there is a state park within 25 miles of nearly every Pennsylvanian. The parks feature an array of recreational opportunities, provide a forum for multiple environmental education programs, and conserve thousands of acres of unique natural areas, among many other features.

Website: visitPAParks.com

Campground Reservations: (888) PA-PARKS

Gander Mountain

Gander Mountain, headquartered in St. Paul, Minnesota, is a retail network of stores for hunting, fishing, camping, marine, and other outdoor recreation products and services. Gander Mountain offers a wide array of sportswear for men, women, and children, camouflage and field wear, kayaks, and canoes.

Gander Mountain began as a catalog-based retailer in Wilmot, Wisconsin in 1960. Wilmot is located near Gander Mountain, the highest point in Lake County, Illinois a short distance across the state line.

In December 2007, Gander Mountain purchased boating and watersports catalog company Overton’s, based in Greenville, North Carolina.

 Website: gandermountain.com

Worth Pondering…
And that’s the wonderful thing about family travel: it provides you with experiences that will remain locked forever in the scar tissue of your mind.
—Dave Barry

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Pennsylvania State Parks Generate $1 Billion in Local Economic Activity

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) Secretary Richard Allan released a new analysis showing visitors to Pennsylvania’s State Parks generate more than $1 billion in economic activity in nearby communities and support almost 13,000 related jobs.

“Pennsylvanians get a great return on the investment they make in state parks. The report shows for every dollar invested, more than $12 is returned to Pennsylvania’s economy,” Allan said.

“Connecting communities to our natural resources through their state parks generates significant local economic activity and helps build sustainable local economies.”

The study, conducted by Penn State University’s Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, was based on data from 2010, when state parks hosted about 38 million visitors.

“Especially in challenging economic times, Pennsylvanians turn to their parks for affordable, healthful recreation and relaxation,” Allan said.

“Just as importantly, this analysis shows state parks also serve as economic generators in the communities that surround them, many of which are rural.”

State park visitors purchase firewood, food, boat rentals, bait, and many other items in nearby communities.

In addition, DCNR’s Bureau of State Parks has 145 private concessions that also provide goods and services to visitors.

These economic contributions were not only made by Pennsylvanians. Out-of-state visitor spending accounted for $274 million in sales in 2012. Out-of-state visitor spending contributed to 2,976 jobs, $94.6 million in labor income, and $154.5 million in value added effects.

The 1,445-acre Lackawanna State Park is in northeastern Pennsylvania, ten miles north of Scranton. The centerpiece of the park, the 198-acre Lackawanna Lake, is surrounded by picnic areas and multi-use trails winding through forest. Boating, camping, fishing, biking and swimming are popular recreation activities. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

Comparing the income return (value added) from out-of-state visitor expenditures with reported General Fund expenditures of $52.3 million revealed a favorable return on investment for the Commonwealth. For every dollar invested in state parks, $12.41 of income (value added) is returned to Pennsylvania.

“That is new money coming directly to the commonwealth,” said Dr. Andrew Mowen, Penn State Associate Professor of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management, who led the research.

The recent analysis is an update of an earlier Penn State study based on 2008 data that showed state parks generated about $818 million in sales and supported 10,500 jobs.

This increase can be attributed to increased visitation levels experienced in 2010, as well as multiplier adjustments and cost of living adjustments.

Including secondary effects, the total contribution of visitor spending to the state economy was $1.145 billion in sales, 12,630 jobs, 397.8 million in labor income, and $649 million in value added effects.

Restaurants/bars and gas/oil represented the largest percentage of visitor spending, followed by groceries and take-out food/drinks. The smallest percentage of visitor spending was associated with marinas and camping fees.

  • There are some great opportunities for things to do and see in state parks, including: Running whitewater
  • Seeing an old-growth forest
  • Observing the darkest skies found on the East Coast
  • Watching wildlife including eagles and elk
  • Hiking hundreds of miles of trails
  • Viewing fall foliage
  • Attending thousands of educational and recreational programs
  • Sunbathing on a Lake Erie beach
  • Climbing over rocks in a natural boulder field

Details

Pennsylvania State Parks

This map of Pennsylvania highlights twenty must-see Pennsylvania State Parks. (Source: dcnr.state.pa.us)

Pennsylvania has 120 state parks. The system’s nearly 300,000 acres saw an increase in visitors in 2010 to 38.4 million compared to 34.1 million in 2008.

For information on Pennsylvania State Parks, visit the DCNR website.

Click here to see the full report.

Worth Pondering…

Stillness Speaks

When you walk through a forest that has not been tamed and interfered with by man, you will see not only abundant life all around you, but you will also encounter fallen trees and decaying trunks, rotting leaves, and decomposing matter at every step…

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: January 13

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. Explore Pennsylvania 2012Now Available

Let's Go RVing to Pennsylvania. Pictured above is Lackawanna State Park. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

The 2012 edition of “Explore Pennsylvania” is now available according to a Pennsylvania RV & Camping Association (PRVCA) news release.

The official PRVCA membership directory and consumer magazine features 52 pages of RV and camping tips designed to provide the latest information in RV trends and make their next adventure to Pennsylvania a great one.

This year’s publication features 10 Pennsylvania destinations to explore by RV, tips on purchasing the right RV, renting an RV, RVing with extended family, details on America’s Largest RV Show, and a feature on Pennsylvania wine trails.

75,000 copies of “Explore Pennsylvania” will be distributed at over 40 RV shows throughout the East Coast (including America’s Largest RV Show). The magazine will also be on PRVCA’s website, at member locations, at welcome centers along the Pennsylvania Turnpike, through Pennsylvania visitor bureaus, and the RV Hall of Fame in Elkhart, Indiana.

Additional information is available on the PRVCA website.

2. Nebraska State Park Entry Permits on Sale

Nebraska State Park permits for 2012 are now on sale. The permits are required to enter more than 80 state parks, recreation areas, and historical parks.

The Nebraska Game and Parks Commission says the annual permit costs $25, duplicates cost $12.50, and daily permits cost $5. Vendors may charge an additional $1 for annual and duplicate permits and 35 cents for a daily permit. A $1 issue fee is charged for online purchases of annual and duplicate annual permits.

The permits are valid through Dec. 31, 2012.

Additional information about hunting, fishing, and park permits is available on the OutdoorNebraska.org website.

3. EverGreen Creates Luxury Fifth Wheel Division

Middlebury, Indiana-based EverGreen Recreational Vehicles, recently announced the name of its much-anticipated high-end fifth wheel division: Lifestyle Luxury Resort Vehicles.

This stand-alone division is housed in its own separate 100,000-square-foot facility recently purchased in Middlebury. According to national sales manager Elliott Bond, Lifestyle LRV will eventually employ a large staff consisting almost entirely of former key Carriage employees.

“The last several weeks have been full of activity with ongoing developments in the product and staff,” Bond said, “and there is a high amount of enthusiasm already circulating about the new Lifestyle LRV brand.”

Carriage, founded in 1968, closed its doors and laid off 180 workers on October 17 as an Indianapolis-based bank filed suit. On February 9, an Ohio-based company will hold an auction for all of Carriage’s assets at its long-time Millersburg headquarters.

4. Former RV Dealer Sentenced for Fraud

A former Mattoon, Illinois, woman who co-owned an RV dealership has been sentenced to 16 months in federal prison and ordered to pay $412,028 in restitution, consisting of $279,438 to the bank and $132,590 to the Illinois Department of Revenue.

Rebecca L. Shockley, 63, currently of Bradenton, Florida, was sentenced January 5 and will be allowed to remain free until March 7, according to the News-Gazette.

Shockley was co-owner of Quality Truck and Auto in Mattoon, which did business as Cross Country RV Center which sold new and used recreational vehicles.

Shockley pleaded guilty in May to one count each of mail fraud and bank fraud, admitting that from March 2007 to December 2008, she pledged vehicles as collateral to both the bank and another lender.

As financial conditions deteriorated, Quality Truck and Auto was unable to pay off the secured loans it had received from the bank and the bank learned that the RVs that were supposed to be collateral had already been sold and the sales proceeds forwarded to the other lender.

Shockley further admitted that from July 2006 to December 2008, she under-reported the amounts subject to sales tax by $1.8 million.

In addition, Shockley admitted that she under-reported the taxable retail sales of Quality Truck and Auto from 2006 to 2008.

5. Snowbirds Flock to Tucson

Let's Go RVing to Tucson, Arizona. © Rex Vogel, all rights reserved

With temperatures reaching the high seventies, owners of Prince of Tucson RV Park said they’re noticing more visitors are coming down to soak up the sun, reports KVOA.

“You know they’ve been going through sleet and snow, and they pull in here and they see some green grass and its seventy degrees, it’s a big sigh of relief,” Owner, David Christman said.

According to Arizona State officials, tourism added $2 billion to Pima County’s economy last year, and it also helped create more than 21,000 jobs in 2010.

Travelers in Arizona can visit az511.gov or dial 511 to get information on road closures, construction, delays, weather, and more.

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…

The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: Decide what you want.

—Ben Stein

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More Gifts That Keeps on Giving

The Christmas countdown continues!

While the holidays bring with it lots of love, time spent with family and friends, good food, and more, it can also bring stress—most from the gift exchange. Trying to find the perfect gift for someone can get frustrating.

But if you’re still looking for gifts for the RVer in your life, you are in luck!

To keep this manageable, it’s been parted out into two posts—each with five items. To read part one, click here.

These are in no particular order, with no favoritism or affiliation to the actual products or vendors. So, without further ado here are five more gifts that keep on giving:

National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) Membership

By giving a gift membership, not only do you save yourself from the stress and crowds of department stores, but you’ll help protect America’s most treasured lands. The National Parks Conservation Association offers Gift Memberships starting at only $25. Gift members will also receive a fleece blanket as a welcome gift, plus a year’s subscription to the award-winning National Parks magazine. Donations between now and December 31 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar up to $100,000.

Arizona State Parks Annual Pass

You can support Arizona State Parks by purchasing an Annual Pass. They make great Holiday gifts, too. Share the outdoors today.

Any two individuals may put their names on the pass. Names must be the full first name and the full last name of each Pass Holder.

Both Standard and Premium Annual Passes can also be purchased on-site in the visitor center or gift shop at Arizona State Parks.

A Standard Annual Pass is $75.00 (+ $5 handling); Premium Annual Pass $200.00 (+ $5 handling).

Pennsylvania State Parks Gift Cards & Calendars

A state park gift card can be purchased in any dollar amount and may be used for campsites, cabins, and pavilions anywhere they are available in the award-winning state park system. Parks are a great, economical destination and offer the opportunity to watch wildlife and connect with nature. To order a gift card, visit dcnr.state.pa.us, choose “Find a Park,” then “Reservations,” then “Gift Cards.”

Holiday gift-givers also can support Pennsylvania’s 120 state parks by purchasing a calendar featuring the wonders of state parks throughout the seasons, and provides tips and facts that make it easy to discover what many locations have to offer. The 10-inch x 13-inch calendar costs $8.49, plus sales tax and shipping, and can be ordered by calling 1.888.PAPARKS. You can see the calendar online before purchasing.

Washington State Parks

New this year, the Discover Pass provides motor-vehicle access to nearly seven million acres of Washington state-managed recreation lands, including state parks, water-access points, heritage sites, wildlife and natural areas, trails and trailheads. The annual pass, which is valid for one year from the issue date, is $35.

Addition information is available online.

“Living with Wildlife in the Pacific Northwest,” a 392-page guide to living and dealing with a variety of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians is available for $25.

Florida State Parks Annual Pass

Annual Entrance Passes allow park entrance in lieu of the daily entrance fee and are honored at all state parks, except for Skyway Fishing Pier State Park, where they are valid for a 33 percent discount.

The Individual Annual Entrance Pass is valid for the named cardholder only, additional persons accompanying an Individual Annual Entrance Pass holder are $2.00 per person admission except at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where the standard admission fee applies.

The Family Annual Entrance Pass is valid for up to eight people in a group, except at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park where the family pass is good for admission of up to two people.

An Individual Annual Entrance Pass is $60; Family Annual Entrance Pass (up to eight people in a group) $120.

Annual Passes can be purchased at all park ranger stations and museums and online.

Worth Pondering…

To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.

—Helen Keller

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Five Things You Need to Know Today: December 16

Since I like things to come in fives (and tens), here are five things YOU need to know TODAY!

1. Minnesota State Park Reservation System Upgrade

The Minnesota state parks reservation system is being upgraded and will be temporarily unavailable December 27-February 29, according to a recent the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) news release.

“This will create a short-term inconvenience,” explained Courtland Nelson, director of the DNR’s Division of Parks and Trails, “but we know our customers will really enjoy the benefits of our new state-of-the-art reservation system.”

The DNR is encouraging people to plan ahead and, if possible, to make their state park camping reservations for 2012, before the current system temporarily shuts down at 8 p.m. December 26. Reservations can also be made by phone at (866) 85PARKS.

Starting March 1, when the new system from US eDirect is expected to be fully operational, it will be easier to plan overnight outings to Minnesota state parks and recreation areas. The new system will feature interactive maps.

Overnight stays at Minnesota state parks and recreation areas totaled 985,374 in 2010, up from 942,381 in 2009 and 863,075 in 2008.

2. Strong Winds Topple Trees in California State Park

Trees knocked down by a windstorm December 1 in the central Sierra Nevada in California will block forest roads and disrupt vacation plans for months to come, according to state and federal forest managers.

At Calaveras Big Trees State Park near Arnold, officials are still assessing how long it will take to reopen the park and how much of the popular North Grove Campground will be back in service by next summer, said Park Superintendent Gary Olson, the Stockton Record-Net reported.

Olson said that 40 to 60 trees fell in the North Grove Campground alone. No one was hurt because it happened when the campground was empty.

The Eldorado National Forest, generally in Amador and El Dorado counties, issued a statement that many forest roads are impassable due to trees toppled by the high wind.

Wind gusts exceeded 130 mph in some high-elevation areas of the Sierra Nevada. Sustained winds were registered near 100 mph.

3. Phone App Available for Pennsylvania State Parks

Apple Inc.’s ubiquitous catchphrase: “There’s an app for that,” can now be applied to Pennsylvania’s state parks and forests, reports the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.
According to the special report, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) recently partnered with the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation and ParksByNature Network to offer the Official PA State Parks and Forests Guide—Pocket Ranger, a state parks and forests mobile application for smart phones.
“This mobile app will allow our visitors, while they are on the go, to search for park and forest locations, activities and events, get directions, share photos, and even make a reservation,” DCNR secretary Richard J. Allan said in a prepared statement, quoted in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

4. Arizona State Park Reopens

Oracle State Park in the northern foothills of the Catalina Mountains was closed two years ago because of deep budget cuts to the park system. But a group called Friends of Oracle State Park is providing enough money to re-open the park part-time next year. Oracle State Park will re-open for three months in spring of 2012, and again for three months in the fall. Weekdays will be reserved for field trips for schoolchildren.

The park is scheduled to reopen to the public on February 4, reports Arizona Public Media.

The park encompasses 4,000 acres of oak woodland and desert grassland.

It and several other state parks closed in October of 2009 after state lawmakers slashed the park system’s operating budget. The other parks have since re-opened on abbreviated schedules.

5. Must-read for Snowbirds

The third edition of “Along Florida’s Expressways” is now available for snowbirds heading south this winter.

Visit Florida, the Sunshine State’s official tourism agency, has endorsed the book and uses it for reference at all of its welcome centers.

The handy guide is produced by Dave and Kathy Hunter, who also turn out the annual “Along 1-75” publication, which is a best seller and must for anyone driving to Florida.

Dozens of helpful tips are provided in the “Along Florida’s Expressways” publication including how snowbirds can save up to 20% on Florida’s highway tolls, and the best pirate museum in the world.

For additional information visit i75online.com

Have a great weekend.

Until next time, safe RV travels, and we’ll see you on the road!

Worth Pondering…

As Anne Murray sings in the popular song, “Snowbird”:

“Spread your tiny wings and fly away

And take the snow back with you

Where it came from on that day

So, little snowbird, take me with you when you go

To that land of gentle breezes where the peaceful waters flow…”

Happy travels!

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