Virginia State Parks to offer free parking next Saturday

Watchful Eye

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Visitors on a trail at Belle Isle State Park in Lancaster CountyCourtesy of Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation

If you’ve been wanting to visit one of Virginia’s 41 state parks, next Saturday may be a good day to do so. In honor of National Public Lands Day, visitors will enjoy free parking.

State parks will also be offering special programs and volunteer events.

National Public Lands Day is an annual event established in 1994 and falls on the fourth Saturday of September. According to the National Park Service, it’s the nation's largest single-day volunteer effort. This year’s theme is Giving Back Together.

At Virginia state parks, there are 38 events scheduled that allow visitors to get involved in volunteer efforts. These include:

● invasive species removal at Smith Mountain, Bear Creek Lake, Lake Anna and Widewater state parks.
● shoreline cleanup at Douthat, Holliday Lake, James River, York River, Chippokes, First Landing, Westmoreland, Caledon, Leesylvania and Mason Neck state parks.
● trail maintenance at Natural Bridge, Staunton River, Belle Isle and False Cape state parks.

Beyond volunteering

Virginia’s state parks will be offering more than a chance to volunteer. Examples of other events include:

● educational “Trailgate” at Hungry Mother State Park: staff and local volunteers teach about various topics pertaining to flora, fauna and the landscape itself using vehicle tailgates packed with resources and visual aids.
● “Bark in the Park,” a guided hike with canine companions, at Sailor's Creek Battlefield State Park.
● Outdoor Exploration Day on Kiptopeke’s State Park’s 30th anniversary that’ll include activities, such as wildlife exhibits, educational games, activities and arts & crafts.

Or you could use the free parking day to do your own thing. Virginia’s state parks offer a range of activities, like hiking, biking, kayaking, fishing, and beach access.

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