State park lodge and resort systems are a small and important component of the travel and tourism industry. Over the last 30 years the state park lodge system has matured into a resort system centered in the central and east central part of the United States. Kentucky is the most intensive state resort system with 17 resorts and located in what is called State Resort Parks. Resort revenues, while a small portion of most state park revenues, accounted for $49 million in 2001. Resorts are managed in one of three ways: state management, local contract management, or contract management with a national hospitality service firm. Resorts are seen as an attractive value-added part of the state park experience and as such will continue to be an important component of state parks.

Within the travel and tourism industry the presence of lodges is a term frequently reserved for more rustic settings. Certainly Yellowstone Lodge conjures up the presence of geysers, wildlife, and wilderness. Lodges are a part of the National Park System and have long represented important gathering points for domestic and international travelers. Lodges within state park systems, by contrast, have experienced considerably less exposure to the general public. Some few lodges such as Stone Mountain in Georgia and Custer State Park located in South Dakota have evoked similar aura as those of the National Parks. Most state park lodges, however, operate in relative anonymity.

This paper reports the status of state park lodge and resort systems. State park resort systems have been a part of state park systems and travel and tourism operations for an extended period of time, but in the last 30 years the system has expanded and evolved. Because knowledge of state park resort systems is limited there is a need to increase awareness.