CONWAY COUNTY, Ark. – Arkansas is called the Natural State for a reason, and this year, the Arkansas State Parks system is celebrating 100 years of getting Arkansans outdoors.

In 1923, the Arkansas legislature passed an act authorizing the commissioner of state lands to accept donations for state parks, creating the Arkansas State Parks system.

The centennial celebration kicked off at Petit Jean State Park, the very first in Arkansas.

Park rangers and visitors to Mather Lodge were joined by Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who signed a proclamation celebrating the 100th anniversary and spoke on the beauty of our state’s great outdoors; views she calls some of the best in the country.

“I’ve always thought our state’s natural spaces are a perfect glimpse into what I think heaven will look like and my administration is here to help the world discover what we already know; that Arkansas is God’s country,” Sanders said. “It was here long before we got here and will be here long after we’re gone. And we need to do everything we can to protect it and preserve it and make sure we pass that on so that many generations have the ability to enjoy it in the same way that we do.”

The centennial will feature unique events at all 52 state parks, a Club 52 passport program, and public input on the next 100 years, called the 2nd Century Strategic Plan.

Also featured was the Natural State Initiative, a new push involving First Gentleman Bryan Sanders that aims to improve Arkansas’ public outdoor spaces and increase outdoor tourism in the state.

More information on 100 years of Arkansas State Parks can be found at