Now that the calendar flipped over to 2021, don't forget to get your annual Alaska State Parks parking pass so you can get out and explore the parks system all year.

The 2021 annual parking passes are once again $60, and are good for nearly every state park in Alaska. Due to the pandemic, some in-person purchase locations are closed, but you can still order the annual passes at the Alaska State Parks web site. Annual parking passes are convenient so you don't have to pay at kiosks every time you visit a state park property. The windshield sticker allows you to park for free, 365 days a year. Boat launch annual passes are also available for $150 a year.

This year, it's also easier to reserve a campsite or public use cabin up to seven months in advance. Alaska State Parks has revamped its reservation system and instituted a flat $5 fee per reservation. In the past, there was a $2 fee/night for campsite reservations and $8.05 fee for public-use cabins. The new system is more streamlined.

A new reservation web site launched on the first of the year. It is still being operated by Reserve America, but users will notice a much easier interface than in the past that allows you to search by area, or by type of reservation - RV, campsite or cabin. Popular Mat-Su area Alaska State Parks such as Nancy Lake and Denali State Park are all on the reservation system. Since reservations can be made up to seven months in advance, it allows visitors to plan their camping trips well in advance and not have to worry if all the campgrounds are full.

The Alaska State Parks system celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2020. Parks are located throughout the Mat-Su Valley.