Home Garden & Outdoor 3 Newly Designated Public Lands to Explore

3 Newly Designated Public Lands to Explore


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

Missouri River at Brownville, Nebraska
(Photo: marekuliasz/iStock)

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 

Bar Harbor Coastline
(Photo: kyletperry/iStock)

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 

Town of Trinidad  MAG20002
(Photo: Cameron Davidson/Aerialstock)

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.

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Roy, New Mexico

Bouldering in New Mexico
Bouldering in New Mexico (Photo: Julie Ellison)

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 

North-South Lake
(Photo: lightphoto/iStock)

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 

(Photo: Ian Shive/USFWS/Tandem)

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

Lead Photo: dbimages/Alamy