Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

February 14, 2019

Randy Simons | Dan Keefe
(518) 486-1868 |

New York State Announces Best of the Great Outdoors Photo Contest Winners

Grand Prize and themed category images of the outdoors selected from more than five thousand entries

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks), and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced the winners of the online photo contest highlighting the best of New York's great outdoors. More than 5,200 photos were submitted and nearly 18,000 votes cast in the competition that captured the best of the state's parks, forests, trails, campgrounds, nature centers, historic sites and other favorite destinations.

The online contest was conducted August 29-November 30, 2018 in partnership with powered by Aspira, the state's camping reservation system. A grand prize winner was selected along with five entry categories. Finalists were determined by top vote-getters on social media and through a selection committee. Additionally, one photo won the People's Choice prize for receiving the most online votes across all categories.

The awardees are:

  • Grand Prize Winner - Jerome Davis of Penfield, NY; image: Sampson State Park
  • Point of Interest Category Winner - Brandon Sprung of Rochester, NY; image: Letchworth State Park
  • Camping Life Category Winner - Kevin Jensen of Hobart, NY; image: Fish Creek Pond Campground
  • Connecting with the Outdoors Category Winner - Alex Perfect of Kingston, NY; image: Wilmington Notch
  • Day Trips Category Winner - Karri Marengo of Brookhaven, NY; image Hither Hills State Park
  • On the Trails/Off the Beaten Path Category Winner - Luke Gashi of Wappingers Falls, NY; image: Heart Lake, Adirondacks
  • People's Choice Winner - Christy Hibsch of Warsaw, NY; image: Letchworth State Park

Each category winner receives a $100 New York State camping gift card and a one-year Empire Pass. The Grand Prize winner receives a $300 New York State Camping Gift Card, an Empire Pass and a Nikon DSLR camera complete with multiple lenses and premium accessories for a total package value of $1,030.

"Congratulations to the seven winners who captured the magic of New York's great outdoors and inspire us with their engaging imagery. We are grateful to all of the contest participants for showcasing and sharing the Empire State's exceptional beauty, natural wonders and beloved destinations," said Acting State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid.

"New York has some of the most beautiful landscapes, exciting adventures, and inspiring destinations. The entries in this year's photo contest document all these wonders and show New Yorkers and visitors alike just what our great state has to offer. Thank you to the winners and everyone who submitted and shared these amazing photos," said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

"We are proud to have been a sponsor, and to have powered the online submission and operations process of photos that captured so many beautiful moments," said Mark Trivette, Chief Executive Officer at Aspira. "The photos and associated stories are inspirational, reflecting the unique and diverse public landscapes and activities, the connections between people and amazing outdoor experiences that New York State Parks can offer."

The winning images will be featured in the 2019 New York State Camping Guide and together with other entries will be used in statewide promotions on social media, websites and in print publications, and highlighted through seasonal marketing campaigns. Highlights of the remaining entries included hundreds of submissions featuring sunsets, scenic vistas, campfires, landscapes, waterways, families, beach fun, four-season beauty, and four-legged friends. The contest-winning photos are featured in an online gallery at with information about each image and photographer.

OPRHP operates more than 250 state parks, historic sites, launches and nature centers including 67 campgrounds with 8,300 campsites and 900 cabins and cottages across 11 park regions. DEC operates 52 campgrounds in the Adirondack and Catskill regions of the state with 6,200 campsites., powered by Aspira, is a leading provider of campsite reservations and park management solutions in the Empire State and across North America, facilitating millions of transactions every year. Reservations are accepted for campsites and cabins, from one day to nine months in advance of the planned arrival date by calling toll-free 1-800-456-CAMP or online,