Friday, January 8, 2010

N.C. parks boomed with business in 2009

If you visited a North Carolina state park last year, you're in good company. You helped set a record of 14.16 million visits, a jump of 13 percent over the previous year, according to the N.C. Divison of Parks and Recreation. That was up 5 percent from the previous record set in 2007.

A press release from the state says that over the past 25 years, the state parks system has seen a dramatic 238 percent increase in visitation. In 1984, 5.9 million people visited state parks and state recreation areas.

“It’s obvious North Carolinians and visitors to our state recognize the tremendous value our state parks offer in terms of affordable family experiences and respite from a difficult economy,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “Every visitor to the state parks can also take pride in this state’s long history of conservation of its remarkable natural resources.”

The state parks system manages more than 208,000 acres, including 34 state parks and four state recreation areas and a system of state natural areas dedicated to natural resource protection.

Among the parks and recreation areas, 22 reported increases in attendance in 2009. Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Dare County reported the highest attendance at 1.4 million visits, an increase of 2 percent over last year.

Locally, Crowders Mountain State Park in Gaston County was among those with significant attendance increases. It had a 58 percent boost. Others included Cliffs of the Neuse State Park in Wayne County (42 percent), Dismal Swamp State Park in Camden County (59 percent), Jordan Lake State Recreation Area in Chatham County (52 percent) and Mount Mitchell State Park in Yancey County (77 percent).

What led to such a boon in attendance wasn't noted but Lewis Ledford, state parks director, said: “Beyond the quality recreation experiences, health benefits and exposure to the natural world, state parks also offer economic benefits to the local communities where they’re located. A 2008 economic study revealed the state parks system has an annual economic impact of more than $400 million, much of it in direct contributions to local tourism economies.”

If you visited a state park, tell us what attracted you.

The study by North Carolina State University’s Department of Parks Recreation and Tourism Management determined that tourist visitors spend an average $23.56 a day to enjoy the state parks. The complete study by the North Carolina State University's Department of Parks and Recreation and Tourism Management can be found at


Michael Hardeman Photography said...

CAMPING! It's the new homelessness!

Anonymous said...

If Appalachian State and Rep. Frye get their way, a wind plant will be located in Mitchell County. It will be seen from Mt. Mitchell, and at that point to tourist numbers would go down. It would also be seen from Grandfather. Why ASU? They got a grant from the company, Acciona, that will put the turbines there. Smell something stinky? I DO!
People fight for the mountains!