McCroskey State Park

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McCroskey State Park
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
The park's scenic Skyline Drive in 2007,
much of it built by Virgil T. McCroskey himself
Map showing the location of McCroskey State Park
Map showing the location of McCroskey State Park
Location in Idaho
Map showing the location of McCroskey State Park
Map showing the location of McCroskey State Park
Location in the United States
LocationBenewah County & Latah County, Idaho, United States
Nearest cityTensed
Coordinates47°03′54″N 116°57′02″W / 47.0648962°N 116.9504454°W / 47.0648962; -116.9504454Coordinates: 47°03′54″N 116°57′02″W / 47.0648962°N 116.9504454°W / 47.0648962; -116.9504454[1]
Area5,300 acres (21 km2)[2]
Elevation4,022 ft (1,226 m)[1]
Max. elevation4,324 ft (1,318 m)
Min. elevation3,039 ft (926 m)
DesignationIdaho state park
Established1955; 66 years ago (1955)
Named forMary Minerva McCroskey
AdministratorIdaho Department of Parks and Recreation
WebsiteMcCroskey State Park

McCroskey State Park—officially Mary Minerva McCroskey State Park—is a public recreation area in the Pacific Northwest of the United States, located in the Palouse region of northern Idaho. The park's 5,300 acres (8.3 sq mi; 21 km2) stretch along a ridge in Latah and Benewah Counties, along the border with Washington.[3][4][5][6]


McCroskey State Park was given to the state of Idaho in 1955 by a local conservationist, Virgil T. McCroskey (1876–1970),[7] who gradually bought up land endangered by logging and cobbled his purchases into a 4,400-acre (18 km2) parcel.[3][8][4][9] To make the land more attractive to tourists, he cut viewpoints into some of the slopes, built picnic areas, planted flowers, and established a road.

The state legislature, however, had serious doubts about the new park – thinking it would not generate enough revenue to justify the loss in taxes – and agreed to accept the gift only if McCroskey, then in his late seventies, maintained the park at his own expense for the next fifteen years. McCroskey accepted the terms, and lived exactly fifteen more years, fulfilling his obligation to the state of Idaho just weeks before his death in 1970 at age 93.[10][11]

McCroskey named the park in honor of his mother Mary,[3] a pioneer woman who left Tennessee with her husband and children and came to eastern Washington to establish a homestead near Steptoe Butte; she died when Virgil was 14, and he dedicated it to all pioneer women.[9]

After his death, the park received less than adequate attention from the state for nearly two decades, until the late 1980s.[4][10][12][13][14]


McCroskey State Park occupies the rocky slopes of Skyline Ridge on Mineral Mountain, in a transitional zone between the Palouse prairie to the west (and south) and the Rocky Mountains to the east.[6] The park's chief attraction is a narrow unimproved road called Skyline Drive, which winds for 18 miles (30 km) along a steep ridge, climbing through dense cedar forest that gives way to stands of ponderosa pine and, eventually, to prairie. The road also links a scattering of interpretive signs and vista points.[2]

In addition, there are 32 miles (51 km) of trails open to hiking, mountain biking, horses, and all-terrain vehicles. Picnic areas, pit toilets and primitive campsites are available, along with a single source of drinking water near the midpoint of Skyline Drive. Since the park is large, remote, and underutilized, it provides excellent habitat for an assortment of wildlife, including deer, moose, and black bears. Despite McCroskey's "park" status, however, significant logging still takes place within park boundaries.[citation needed]

The park lies about ten miles (16 km) north of Potlatch. The best access point is from Highway 95, but visitors can also enter the park from Farmington road on the west side, a few miles north of Farmington, Washington. On the Farmington side, the only indication of the park's presence is the Skyline Drive sign, and the roads are much rougher.[15]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mary Minerva McCroskey Memorial State Park". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ a b "McCroskey State Park". Idaho Parks and Recreation. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c "Dedication is set for large state park". Spokane Daily Chronicle. (Washington). July 8, 1955. p. 3.
  4. ^ a b c Harriman, Peter (May 7, 1988). "Family fights bureaucracy to restore Uncle Virgil's park". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 10A.
  5. ^ London, Bill (August 10, 2002). "Green dreams". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. (Idaho-Washington). p. 1D.
  6. ^ a b Smith, Christopher (April 29, 1989). "Idaho told to protect pristine park straddling Skyline Drive". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1A.
  7. ^ Devlin, Sherry (January 9, 1984). "Pioneer environmentalist left legacy". Spokane Chronicle. (Washington). p. 5.
  8. ^ "New state park to be dedicated". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. July 9, 1955. p. 2.
  9. ^ a b Arksey, Laura (November 5, 2006). "McCroskey, Virgil Talmadge (1876-1970)". The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History. HistoryLink. Retrieved March 5, 2011.
  10. ^ a b "Donor had vision, recipients didn't". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). (editorial). August 10, 2005. p. B4.
  11. ^ Vogt, Andrea (Fall 2006). "The Man Who Gave Away Mountains". Washington State Magazine. (Pullman): Washington State University.
  12. ^ Oliveria, D.F. (May 5, 1988). "McCroskey park funds demanded". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. B1.
  13. ^ Harriman, Peter (August 15, 1988). "McCroskey Park finally gets some attention". Idahonian. (Moscow). p. 1A.
  14. ^ Oliveria, D.F. (July 12, 1990). "State's cleanup of donated park pleasing to McCroskey offspring". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). p. B1.
  15. ^ Brians, Paul. "McCroskey State Park". Tour WSU and the Palouse (And the Surrounding Region). Archived from the original on 2007-08-23.

External links[edit]