LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Fourth of July weekend is usually when folks head outside, enjoying the scenery or taking a much-needed vacation.

But this summer, the State of Arkansas is hoping adventurers pick the Natural State; staying local to enjoy all our home has to offer.

It’s many Arkansans’ preferred pastime: gearing up, grabbing the family, and going outdoors – a trend that’s extending beyond the Natural State. Jacob Critz is a native Arkansan, now spending his days in the Lone Star State. But the many hiking trails of the state next door calls him home, his preferred vacation destination only a few hours’ drive away. Friday, Critz was taking in the sights of Pinnacle Mountain, a popular hiking spot just a few miles outside Little Rock.

“It makes it a lot better coming back to see family that there’s so much great nature,” Critz said, explaining he frequently travels back to AR. “It’s funny because I’ve seen commercials in Texas! Come to the Natural State, and all that.”

That’s exactly what Arkansas State Parks likes to hear, focusing their efforts on attracting those just passing through and now, locals – never more than 60 miles from a state park.

Shea Lewis is the director of Arkansas State Parks. He and the team are now shifting their focus from flyers to drivers, those looking to steer a little closer to home.

“The impact on gas prices is causing travelers to stay a little closer to home,” Lewis explained. “Part of the original concept of state parks was to be a resource for local residents.”

The impact of staying local speaks for itself. Not only do parks and other attractions put money back into the state economy, but local cities and counties benefit from travelers, too, with gas stations, local restaurants, and suppliers major buys for guests both from home and abroad.

July 4th weekend is expected to be a huge success for the parks system, but even during the pandemic the call of the wild was strong: 2021 saw 9.4 million visitors head to their closest state park.

For more on the closest state park to you and all your options this holiday weekend, check out https://www.arkansasstateparks.com/