Carson City, NV – The Nevada Division of State Parks is sponsoring free, guided hikes in seven state parks on New Year’s Day as part of America’s State Parks First Day Hikes initiative.

First Day Hikes offer individuals and families an opportunity to begin the New Year rejuvenating and connecting with the outdoors by taking a healthy hike on January 1, 2012 at a state park close to home.

The following parks in southern and southeastern Nevada are waiving entrance fees for the hikes: Cathedral Gorge, Spring Valley, Spring Mountain Ranch, Kershaw Ryan, Valley of Fire and Old Las Vegas Mormon Fort. Spooner Lake at Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park is offering free hikes in northern Nevada.

Visit www.parks.nv.gov for a list of locations and times of the hikes.

“We are excited to host First Day Hikes as part of this national effort to get people outdoors and into our parks. First Day Hikes are a great way to cure cabin fever and burn off those extra holiday calories by starting off the New Year with an invigorating walk or hike in one of our beautiful state parks,” said Dave Morrow, state parks administrator.

America’s State Parks boast a variety of beautiful settings for year-round outdoor recreation, and each First Day Hike will offer an opportunity to explore the unique natural and cultural treasures close to home. From California to Maine, hikers can climb hills and mountain tops, walk along ponds and beaches, and traverse trails through forests, fields and prairies.

“What better way to kick off the New Year than with a hike at a state park?” said Ruth Coleman, president of the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD). “Think of it as the start of a new and healthy lifestyle for the whole family. Whether you’re staying close to home or traveling, join us at one of America’s State Parks on New Year’s Day.”

First Day Hikes originated 20 years ago at the Blue Hills Reservation, a state park in Milton, Massachusetts. The program was launched to promote both healthy lifestyles throughout the year and year round recreation at state parks. Many other states have offered outdoor recreation programs on New Year’s Day, but this is the first time all 50 state park systems have joined together to sponsor First Day Hikes.

Park staff and volunteers will lead the hikes, which average one to two miles or longer depending on the park. Details about hike locations, difficulty and length, terrain and tips are listed on the America’s State Parks website. Visit www.americasstateparks.org for information.

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