The Prescription for Free Park Passes

Here’s an innovative way to get free park passes from Georgia State Parks.

(Remember, there are many trails to choose from at Red Top Mountain State Park.)

Everyone knows that exercise is one key to being healthy, but not everyone enjoys going to the gym.  Georgia’s State Park system has teamed up with the Georgia Association of Physicians Assistants (GAPA) to make healthy living a bit more fun.  Through the new “Rx for Fitness” Program, physician assistants can prescribe healthy hikes in the great outdoors, and patients can turn intheir “prescriptions” for free park passes.

“Rx for Fitness” is part of the State Park system’s new Tons of Fun Fitness Challenge which encourages citizens to use outdoor recreation as part of their regular exercise.  Park visitors may find that exploring a canyon is more fun than a step machine, and that hiking along a waterfall burns more calories than a treadmill.  The parks also offer less traditional exercise, like lake swimming, geocaching and disc golf.  Even some state historic sites offer walking trails in beautiful settings.

Members of GAPA will be able to help their patients in a new way, by identifying those who need more exercise and suggesting they go for a hike.  By trading their “prescription” for a free pass, patients will not need to pay the $5 parking fee on their first visit.  Those who decide that regular hikes can help them meet weight-loss goals can choose to buy an Annual ParkPass.

“We are so excited to offer a new and unique way of showcasing the benefits of outdoor recreation,” said State Parks Director Becky Kelley.  “When exercise is fun, people tend to stick with it for much longer.  It becomes part of their daily lives, and they have a better sense of well being.  Another benefit of visiting state parks is being able to bring your friends and family along with you.”

“Rx for Fitness” launched February 2nd at the GAPA winter meeting.  It is funded by The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and the Atlanta Falcons Youth Foundation.

“Rx for Fitness is a creative way to give more kids and families access to healthy outdoor activities,” said John Bare, vice president of the Blank Family Foundation. “Better fitness is a walk in the park.”

To learn more about the new “Rx for Fitness” program, visit  The website also offers free advice from a personal trainer and nutritionist, healthy recipes, a health journal and more.  To explore all of Georgia’s State Parks and Historic Sites, visit