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State Park Gift Shops: A Bonanza of Gifts for Campers and Outdoorsmen

At state park gift shops, you'll find presents for campers and RVers of every age. State park stores sell all sorts of things for outdoor enthusiasts, including campground gift cards.

When I think of state parks, I think of great views, reasonably priced camping, historical events, and outdoor activities. An email I received from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks, and Tourism proposed another idea: do your holiday gift shopping them. I'd never thought about doing my Christmas gift shopping at a campground store until I received that email. It sparked my curiosity and I checked out the gift shops of some other state parks.

They have a lot of things for sale that both full-time RVers and recreational campers would use. But, it turns out they also have many things that even those who aren't into camping and RVing would like.

What you'll find depends on the park and its location. If near water, you're apt to find fishing equipment, boating supplies, or beach accessories. For the history buff, you may find a good selection of books and maps. Wildlife books and DVDs are common, too.

They likely have park specific items, as well as state related merchandise. Caps, t-shirts, and mugs are among the usual offerings here. As are books, maps, shot glasses, stuffed animals, and a variety of knick-knacks.

State (and national) park gift shops have gifts for kids of all ages.

If you aren't nearby the park you want to support, shop from their stores online. To find them, go to the state park website of whatever state interests you, and then do a search on "store" from within the state park website. It seems most have an online state park gift catalog.

Many of the items they offer are inexpensive enough that you can regularly add to someone's collection with regular gifts. Or start a collection. Why not help the grandkids start an old-fashioned post card collection? I recently saw an RV Christmas tree decorated with key chains. Adults collect cookbooks, baseball caps, shot glasses, hat pins, and most anything else you can imagine.

One of the suggestions from Kansas was a fishing license that the recipient could use all year. You may also be able to purchase hunting permits. Annual park passes another gift idea.

Another suggestion they made was a gift subscription to their state magazines.

Some states sell campground gift cards. For instance in Missouri, you can buy gift cards that can later be used to pay for campsites, lodging at state parks such as camper cabins, cave tours, and tours of historic site tours. State park gift shops may also have canoe and kayak rentals, fishing or paddle boat rentals, and bike rentals that can be prepaid for with a gift card. Among other things, Minnesota's gift cards can also be used for golf.

California's park stores put special focus on eco-friendly gifts.

If you have your vehicle registered in North Carolina, you can even get a state park license plate from the NC state park gift shops.

Jewelry, coins, and medallions may be good choices. Arizona has a medallion that has been issued for the 2012 Centennial Celebration and is exclusively sold by the AZ State Parks Gift Shop and the AZ State Capital Gift Shop.

It turns out state and national park stores have a wide variety of both fun and practical items to give as gifts this holiday season. Besides the outdoorsmen on your list, they also have unique gifts for collectors, environmentally friendly folks, and history buffs. And remember, shopping at these park stores is a good way to support the state park systems.

Read more holiday RVing articles, besides this one about state park gift shops.

Go to the RV Life and Travel home page to find more articles about RVs, RV camping, and full-time RVing.

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