Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

May 21, 2009

For Release: Immediate
Press Contact:
Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

State Parks $65 Season Pass Offers Close-to-Home Adventures

Parks remain affordable vacation destinations in tough economy; Empire Passport Provides Unlimited State Park Access

Swim under a waterfall. Play disc golf. Conquer a mountain. Catch a glimpse of a rare bird. Year-round access to these outdoor adventures and many more is easy and affordable with a $65 annual pass to New York State Parks. The Empire Passport offers unlimited vehicle access to New York State Parks for all four seasons.

"Staying close to home this summer doesn't mean you can't have an adventure. A day-trip to a New York State Park can be an inexpensive mini vacation," said Carol Ash, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "It's an ideal way to escape the daily stresses of life, and enjoy the magnificent lakefronts, seashores, waterfalls, and trails of New York."

The $65 Passport, valid from now through March 31, 2010, provides vehicle access to upwards of 200 state-operated parks, recreation areas, boat launch sites, arboretums and park preserves, as well as 55 forest preserve sites operated by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. The Empire Passport can be ordered on-line at; or purchased at a local state park or regional office; or by calling 518-474-0458.

"An annual pass provides countless options to break away without breaking the bank," Ash said. "The Empire Passport allows you to visit as many times or places as you like, with as many passengers as your car will hold, for one low price. And with so many State Parks close by to families across the state, the Passport can easily pay for itself in just a few visits."

While activity fees may apply in some cases, Empire Passport holders avoid the daily $5-$8 vehicle entry fee into parks, making it more affordable to:

Cool off: State Parks offer 76 beaches, and 52 swimming pools, including Jones Beach, with miles of oceanfront swimming on Long Island, and Robert Treman State Park in the Finger Lakes where you can swim under a waterfall.

See the sights: State Parks boast 325,000 acres of forests, waterfronts, gorges, meadows and recreation areas, where you are sure to see unique and rare plants and animals, not to mention breathtaking vistas such as Letchworth State Park, the "Grand Canyon of the East" or the magnificent Niagara Falls. Numerous environmental education programs and guided hikes to help visitors fully appreciate New York's natural beauty.

Hit the trail: Brag to your friends about conquering the climb up Breakneck Ridge at Fahnestock State Park. Go mountain biking on the carriage roads at Minnewaska State Park. Or just get fit by taking a regular walk at a scenic destination nearby. State Parks has 1,350 miles of trails to explore.

Play to win: Even if you're not ready for the Bethpage Black Course, home of the 2009 U.S. Open, there's always the disc golf course at Franklin Delano Roosevelt State Park in Westchester. Compete in a fishing contest at Allegany State Park. Or just have fun with friends and family at baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts and soccer fields available at facilities across the state.

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 178 state parks and 35 historic sites. For more information on any of these recreation areas, call 518-474-0456 or visit