This update on five recently renovated start parks is brought to your by our friends at IceMule Coolers. Keep your provisions fresh in an insulated backpack cooler on your next outdoor adventure. They know you need gear as tough as you are, wherever you might roam.
There’s been a lot of bad news for National Parks this year, with fears over reductions in size and proposals to open up protected lands to mining, logging, and other industries. It’s easy to forget in all that doom and gloom (and inspiring responses) that some public lands are not only still protected, they’re also actively being improved and renovated.
That’s because the outdoor industry has never been more popular. While the federal government seems to be thinking in terms of old-school profit, many state governments have recognized what a lucrative draw their natural resources can be when left in tact and outfitted with updated lodges and clean restrooms. In fact, many state parks are currently abuzz with renovations.
Here are some of the camping destinations that have already received updates:
1. Wildwood and Heckscher State Parks, NY
In March of 2018, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a $900 million investment in New York State Parks by 2020. A lot of that money is going to the state’s “flagship parks,” including Niagara Falls, Jones Beach, Allegany State Park, and Green Lakes. Smaller parks are getting their share too, like the ten new cabins that are cropping up in Wildwood and Heckscher State Parks on Long Island. These dwellings are set to be ready on a rolling basis throughout 2018.
If you’re used to outdated cabins that scream “rustic” in a frumpy way, these new structures will be a breath of fresh air. “It costs the same for good design as for bad design, so why not have good design?” Deuty Commissioner Angelyn Chandler told Curbed. The stylish cabins feature exterior wood shingles, interior sliding barn doors, and plenty of natural light. If you’re hoping to get some good ‘grams on your camping trip, this might be your ideal destination.
2. Cape Henlopen State Park & Lums Pond State Park, DE
If you hear someone say that Delaware State Parks are a best kept secret, they don’t just mean from the rest of the country. Up until a couple years ago, Delaware State Parks were a best kept secret from Delawareans, too. Word got out though, and record numbers of people are visiting the beautiful beaches and campsites that make this New England destination so special. That’s got to be a good feeling for folks in the Delaware Parks Department, who invested $11 million over two years to improve cabins, restrooms, and RV hookups.
“We came back for another visit this September and the campground has undergone lots of renovations since I was here last so I wanted to provide an updated review. As always, the biking and walking trails in the park are top notch!” says The Dyrt Ranger Sarah C. of Henlopen State Park. “The sites have newly built picnic tables (very heavy and sturdy) as well as new concrete pad fire rings with grates.”
3. Greenbo Lake State Resort Park, KY
Nearby John James Audubon State Park is closed for updates this season, but Greenbo Lake State Resort can welcome Kentuckians looking to camp out with brand new facilities. In March, Greenbo unveiled 21 new campsites, each featuring 50 amp electric service. There’s also a new 10-acre scuba refuge for divers and brand new frost-resistant hydrants to encourage winter camping.
All state park campgrounds in Kentucky now feature water and electric services with dump stations or sewer hookups, as well as the usual picnic tables (perfect for a picnic carried in with your insulated backpack cooler), fire rings, and bath houses. If you want more of a back country experience, there are primitive sites as well.
4. Letchworth State Park, NY
Letchworth State Park got its own $2 million allocation out of Gov. Cuomo’s big $900 million initiative. The money is being used to fix up the Glen Iris Inn, improve the Lower Falls pool and Trout Pond and Dam, as well as to relocate the historic CCC St. Helena Shelter. Those improvements will be the cherry on top of what is already a stunning gem in the New York State Parks network. Sometimes called “the Grand Canyon of the East,” Letchworth State Park is one of the most visited outdoor destinations in Western New York.
“This is a very nice campground,” said The Dyrt Ranger Rachel B. “There are plenty of facilities including laundry, a store, rec hall, and awesome playground. The bath house has separate rooms for each shower/bathroom. The loops are paved and made a very nice place for my son to ride his bike.”
5. Hocking Hills State Park, OH
Hocking Hills State Park is the most visited state park in Ohio. Currently a lot of hard work is being put into updated the visitor experience with new and improved trails, cabins, campgrounds, and signage. It has been a concerted effort since 2016 and now, in 2018, visitors can finally reap the benefits.
Ohio is spending another $5 million on a brand new 11,500-square-foot visitor center near Old Man’s Cave, one of the area’s most popular attractions. That’s in addition to other privately funded attractions in the area that are about to open, like the new John Glenn Astronomy Park that is nearing completion.
You can win free gear from Icemule—like their insulated backpack cooler—and 19 other brands by reviewing campgrounds on The Dyrt. Share past camping experiences, photos, and videos to earn points towards monthly prizes in this year’s camping contest!