Newly Designated Public Lands to Explore
From Colorado’s second-largest state park to a midwestern tribal park, there are plenty of new wild spaces to plan to visit. Plus, Outside staffers share what they think our 64th national park should be.
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As we head into another big summer for public lands, consider visiting one of these recently preserved areas in favor of tried-and-true destinations. Each offers up the best of their locales.
Ioway Tribal National Park, Ioway Reservation, Kansas and Nebraska
The Midwest just got a little more adventurous with the creation of Ioway Tribal National Park. There are 444 acres of Great Plains prairie and forest overlooking the Missouri River inside the reservation, which straddles the border. The tract has been designated by the tribe for hiking, camping, and bird-watching, and also houses the Leary archaeological site, which has 2,000-year-old burial mounds. Access to the park is currently by tribal permission only, with a full opening expected in 2025.
Cobscook Shores, Maine
The state’s Down East region is anchored by its rugged coast, and the new Cobscook Shores wilderness area protects 13 miles of it through 11 distinct preserves. There are 14 miles of hiking and biking trails, while three boat launches give kayakers access to islands and beaches in Cobscook Bay. The preserves will reopen in May, with three additional parklands added by mid-July.
Fishers Peak State Park, Colorado
Fishers Peak is slated to be Colorado’s second-largest state park, protecting 19,200 acres of high-elevation prairie, old-growth forest, and mesas near the town of Trinidad, just north of New Mexico. There are 250 acres currently open, including two miles of hiking and a picnic site, with more infrastructure and outdoor activities expected to be in place by 2024.
What Should our 64th National Park be?
Outside staffers share their picks for sites that deserve an upgrade
Roy, New Mexico
Set among the ranches and grasslands of northeastern New Mexico, Roy is perhaps one of the best bouldering destinations in the country. Sure, locals will be pissed about the publicity, but Roy is no longer a hidden gem. The word is out, and its infrastructure can’t keep up with the crowds. Making Roy an official park would (hopefully) lead to the installation of toilets, a parking lot, and other amenities the area needs to remain the climbing paradise it is. —Abigail Wise
Catskill Forest Preserve, New York
This 287,000-acre expanse doesn’t have the cachet of a national park, but for wilderness-starved New Yorkers, it holds the same attraction. When I lived in the city, it was my lifeline to the outdoors. But not having a car meant either shelling out for a rental or taking the bus or a train, followed by an Uber. The new designation could mean increased accessibility through shuttle services. —Erin Riley
Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska
I’d love to see all 19.6 million acres of this refuge enshrined, if only to stop the conversation about drilling there once and for all. The Indigenous Gwich’in people call this land home, and their way of life depends on the health of the ecosystems around them, including species like the Grant caribou. Put Gwich’in folks in charge of overseeing the park and leave this place be. —Abigail Barronian