Funds raised from parking pass fees at 22 state parks will help fund improvement and maintenance of Oklahoma State Parks’ facilities and infrastructure.
The Oklahoma Tourism & Recreation Department is launching a new parking pass program at 22 Oklahoma State Parks. The revenue from the passes will allow the Oklahoma State Parks system to invest in infrastructure and future improvements.
“Our state has $1 billion in assets in our state parks across the state,” revealed Leslie Blair, public information officer for the tourism department. “It takes a capital infusion of $39.4 million to just maintain the parks each year. We receive about $10 million each year for capital improvements but over the past ten to twelve years, those funds are often cut or capped.”
The deficit motivated the department to explore other revenue options.
“We were faced with the decision to either shuttered some of our facilities or find another way to support our parks,” Blair said “The math just wasn’t working.”
“The need to implement this parking pass program was not made lightly, but it was a necessary step to help slow the deferred maintenance trend,” said Jerry Winchester, executive director of the tourism department. “It is deeply important to all of us to keep Oklahoma State Parks affordable while providing the best possible experience for our visitors. We have made great progress in streamlining processes and reducing costs, but we have to also increase our resources in order for our state parks to be of the quality that Oklahomans expect and deserve.”
Blair said the program will work a lot the parking systems in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Park visitors can pay via a kiosk or an app. Passes start at $10 for a one-day pass for a single vehicle. Vehicles with an Oklahoma or Oklahoma tribal license plate will receive a 20 percent discount, making their pass just $8 per vehicle for a single day.
Oklahoma residents age 62 and older and their spouses will receive a 100 percent discount on the pass. Honorably discharged veterans will also receive a 100 percent discount, and individuals certified by state or federal law as totally disabled and their spouses will receive a 50 percent discount.
Three-day, one-week and annual passes will also be available. The annual passes start at $75 and will work for all 22 parks, however discounts are available for vehicles with Oklahoma or Oklahoma tribal license plates.
“When you’re staying at a lodge or cabin or at a campsite reservation, included in your reservation is a parking pass for one vehicle for the duration of your stay,” Blair said.
State park golf courses and some concessionaire areas will be exempt from the parking fee, and some restaurants and other concessionaires may offer parking validation.
“We are excited about the improvements this program will provide and look forward to showing Oklahomans some of what we have in store for them in the coming months,” said Oklahoma State Parks Director Kris Marek.
Oklahoma State Parks have already begun projects associated with the new park improvement effort including new or improved restaurant facilities at five parks, new campgrounds at Little Sahara State Park, new cabins at Fort Cobb State Park and upgrades to cabins at Robbers Cave State Park.
“There are also things that visitors don’t often see but definitely notice when things go wrong like sewage and other infrastructure projects,” Blair said.
Guests will have several ways to pay for parking, including:
- Online through a link from TravelOK.com.
- Upon arrival via any smartphone by texting PARK to 504504. Guests will be texted a link to make contactless payment via Apple Pay, Google Pay or any debit/credit card.
- Through the Premium Parking app, which is available as a free download for iPhone and Android devices. To get the app, visit premiumparking.com/mobile-parking.
- Via pay machines at park offices and other locations around the participating parks. Machines will take credit/debit cards and cash but do not give change. Guests will need to enter their license plate number.
State parks participating in the parking pass program are:
- Arrowhead Area at Lake Eufaula State Park
- Beavers Bend State Park
- Boiling Springs State Park
- Cherokee Landing State Park
- Fort Cobb State Park
- Foss State Park
- Honey Creek Area at Grand Lake State Park
- Great Plains State Park
- Great Salt Plains State Park
- Greenleaf State Park
- Keystone State Park
- Lake Eufaula State Park
- Lake Murray State Park
- Lake Texoma State Park
- Lake Thunderbird State Park
- Lake Wister State Park
- Natural Falls State Park
- Osage Hills State Park
- Robbers Cave State Park
- Sequoyah State Park
- Tenkiller State Park
- Twin Bridges Area at Grand Lake State Park
Frequently asked questions:
- What areas of the parks will require a parking pass? With some exceptions, all areas of participating parks will require visitors to purchase a parking pass. Exceptions include golf courses and some concessionaire areas, as identified by park management and approved by the Parks Director. Signage will be placed at park entrances and in parking areas to notify visitors of parking pass requirements.
- Do I need to purchase a parking pass for my trailer or boat? No, only wheeled passenger vehicles are required to purchase a parking pass, such as cars, trucks, motorcycles, vans, buses, etc. A parking pass is not required for boats and hauling trailers.
- Do I need to purchase a parking pass for my RV? What if I am hauling a passenger vehicle behind my RV? Yes, unless you have a valid lodging reservation with the park (for example, day visitors driving RVs are required to purchase a parking pass). Only one parking pass is required for RVs pulling passenger vehicles (enter your passenger vehicle information during the purchase process).
- How do I get my discount? Visitors with Oklahoma or Oklahoma tribal plates will receive the 20% discount automatically at checkout on the Premium Parking app or website. For other discounts, visitors have two options: visit any state park office and provide the required documentation listed above r email the required documentation to firstname.lastname@example.org
- Will patrons of in-park restaurants be required to purchase a parking pass if they are only visiting the park in order to have a meal? Restaurants and other concessionaires may offer validations to patrons upon approval of the park manager and Parks Director. Validations are provided via a promo code.
- What about patrons who have rented boat slips at a marina? Park managers, in partnership with marina concessionaires, may offer one annual parking pass per year to each slip renter. The annual pass may only be used for one vehicle.
- What happens if a vehicle does not have a valid parking pass? The parking pass requirement is enforced 24/7 by park staff and park rangers. Vehicles without valid passes may be subject to warnings, violation notices, towing and/or other enforcement measures.
- What if there is a problem with the pay machine or a visitor has a problem with their payment? Contact our program partner, Premium Parking, for customer service and support, (844) 236-2011.