Top Ways To Utilize Connecticut’s Parks & Rec Department

March 5, 2016 8:00 AM

(Photo Credit: Thinkstock)

In 1913, the Connecticut State Park Commission designated Sherwood Island in Westport as the first Connecticut state park. A century later there are now 139 state parks encompassing fresh and salt water beaches, historical sites, mountains, forests and farms. If you love the great outdoors, you won’t run out of places to explore in Connecticut. A good resource to help you get started is the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Connecticut Department Of Energy And Environmental Protection
79 Elm St.
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 424-3000

Responsibility for Connecticut’s state parks and forests falls to the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP). The agency, founded in 2011, maintains the cleanliness and environmental quality of the state’s public lands, making them safe and welcoming for all who wish to enjoy them. Here are some other important services that DEEP offers those who want to take advantage of Connecticut’s natural beauty.

Buy A State Park Season Pass

A season pass is the most efficient way to see as many Connecticut state parks as possible this year. State residents may purchase a pass through the DEEP website for $73.91 (the price for non-residents is $121.77) that is good for unlimited admission during one calendar year to all state parks that charge parking fees. The department also sells a Charter Oak pass good for lifetime use for residents 65 and older and a Disabled Veterans pass. Finally, there is a Heritage Passport good for one year of unlimited visits to Dinosaur, Fort Trumbull and Gillette Castle State Parks, which are the only sites not covered by the regular season pass.

Reserve A Campsite

If you get the urge to rough it for a few days, there are 1400 campsites throughout Connecticut that can be reserved through DEEP. Reservations may be made as early as 11 months from your desired date, or you can wait until the day before. A minimum two-night stay is required. DEEP also offers 16 rustic cabins for rent at six different state parks. The two-room cabins are 14 by 17 feet and can accommodate up to six campers. Schools, churches and other organizations may also apply to DEEP to reserve a site for youth group camping.

Related:  Top National Parks Near Connecticut

Plan A Boat Trip

From the ocean shoreline to the Connecticut River to numerous lakes and ponds, the state has no shortage of areas for boating. There are over  110 boat launch areas in all, which are listed on DEEP website. There, you can also find which state parks rent out canoes and kayaks and those where you may bring your own. You may also obtain a Connecticut boater’s guide through DEEP, which contains more detailed information regarding boating safety and state and local regulations.

Get Sportsmen Licenses

Before heading out on the water, you will need a safe boating certificate as well as a certificate of personal watercraft operation if you are using your own boat. Those certificates, along with licenses for fishing, hunting and trapping, deer tags and turkey permits, are available from DEEP. When you first register, you will be assigned a Connecticut conservation ID number that you can use when applying for all your licenses. Once you’ve purchased your license, you may conveniently download and print it from the DEEP website. If your license ever gets lost, simply use your Connecticut conservation ID to log-on to the site and reprint it.

Related: Top Dog-Friendly Hiking Trails Near Connecticut

Joshua Palmes is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on

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