According to the National Association of State Park Foundations (NASPF), state parks across the United States have more than 809 million visitors annually, which generates more than $100 billion for local and state economies. Closer to home, Pennsylvania state parks were visited nearly 40 million times in 2023, contributing more than $14 billion to the commonwealth’s gross domestic product, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. State parks are economic revenue generators as people visit, spend the night in a hotel, buy dinner at the nearby restaurant, grab some souvenirs, and fill up their gas tank.

An older woman and preteen boy are in their life vests in a blue rental kayaks.

Photo by Jim Murphy at Laurel Hill State Park

It’s not just a boost to the economy… state parks provide a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities that are good for people’s physical, mental, and emotional health as well, as the Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation (PPFF) showcased in a series of videos it developed. Being outside helps to regulate heart rate, decrease blood pressure, and even lose weight. Multiple studies show that physical activity outdoors can develop positive engagement with others, and it can improve self-esteem and reduce tension, anger, and depression.


What Is “I Love My State Parks” Week?
Back in 2022, NASPF launched the first-ever “I Love My State Parks” campaign. The objectives of the campaign are to increase the visibility of state parks by sharing the story of state parks, benefits to the public, and how to access these places, and the programs offered; connect with the public to have them share their state park memories; increase the visibility of the state parks foundations and their supportive missions; and engage new audiences to the state parks and the nonprofits that support them. The weeklong event was so successful that NASPF members voted to make it an annual occurrence. Fast forward to 2024, and more than 8,500 state parks across the country are expected to host events from Mother’s Day (May 12) through May 19, 2024.

“Our state parks are acknowledged as among the best in the world,” said NASPF President, Damon Kirkpatrick, “and we want to increase visibility about them and the diverse opportunities they offer and to engage new audiences.”

Two preteen girls and a middle aged man look out across a gorge and river from an overlook. The girl on the left has shoulder length brown curly hair and is in a floral teeshirt and dark bib overalls. The man in the middle has an orange ball cap and salt and pepper hair and beard in a white tshirt and khaki camo pants. The girl on the right has dark wavy hair pulled into two buns and is wearing a lilac colored tshirt and medium blue pants. The girl on the left and man in the middle are white with tans and the girl on the right in a light to medium brown complexion.

Photo by Beth Vanhorn at Hyner View State Park


How Can You Participate?
Keep an eye out for “I Love My State Park Week” events to be posted to PPFF’s events calendar in the coming weeks and months. This includes the annual PPFF banquet on May 14 at Little Buffalo State Park in Newport, PA. The banquet is a chance to recognize individuals and programs that have demonstrated outstanding dedication to stewardship across 10 different categories.

While you are participating in events or out and about on your own, be sure to take photos and post using the #ILoveMyStateParksWeek hashtag and follow NASPF, PPFF, and DCNR on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay informed about the latest “I Love My State Parks Week” news. The NASPF website has a variety of resources to help, including a social media toolkit and daily theme toolkits that include graphics and other materials. Check it out at

The backs of 4 women are joined in arms across a dirt trail at Ricketts Glen State park. A thick forest of green and yellow trees can be seen in front of them. Three women carry a backpack and one has a hiking stick,. Two women have on ball caps and all are in light rain jackets.

Photo by Heather Andrews at Ricketts Glen State Park

“Our state parks provide us with so many benefits,” said Marci Mowery, President of PPFF. “I Love My State Park Week is a chance to show our appreciation for these public spaces and support those who work in state parks. I hope you will join us for one or more activities during the week, and then consider becoming a more regular volunteer in Pennsylvania state parks to keep the appreciation going throughout the year.”

Written By Jessica Aiello, PA Parks & Forests Foundation

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Who Loves Their State Parks? Hopefully, You Do!