North Carolina State Parks See More Visitors Than Ever

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NC State Parks

North Carolina state parks had more to celebrate than just the centennial in 2016. More and more people are enjoying the great outdoors, as evidenced by the significant increase in visits to state parks for the year.

According to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, North Carolina State Parks saw 18.8 million visitors in 2016, a 9 percent increase over 2015, when 17.3 million visitors were recorded.

The state is home to 39 state parks and recreation areas, 31 of which reported increased visitation for the year. Six parks saw more than 1 million visitors, and William B. Umstead Park in Wake County took the top spot for the highest visitation with 1.84 million – a 38 percent increase. Other parks with significant increases included Pilot Mountain State Park, Pettigrew State Park, Lake Norman State Park and Mount Mitchell State Park.

A possible motivation for the increase is the state parks’ passport program, introduced in 2016. The program allows visitors to earn prizes for visiting at least 10 parks and partners with Blue Cross Blue Shield to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.

Even more impressive is the fact that state parks achieved the increase even with the challenges from Hurricane Matthew, which temporarily closed 25 parks.

Learn more about North Carolina’s parks and plan your visit at ncparks.gov.

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