Virginia State Parks announced today that 2012 saw a new attendance record set for the 35 state parks. 8,366,179 visitors, an increase of seven percent over 2011, took in Virginia’s state parks. The new record is a four percent increase over the previous attendance record of 8,065,558 set in 2010.
From the press release: “This is a remarkable achievement and demonstrates that Virginians continue to love their state parks and use them during these tough economic times,” said DCR Director David A. Johnson. “I’ve visited every state park, some of them many times, and local officials repeatedly tell me how important the nearby state park is to their area. When I recently attended the dedication of the trail center at First Landing State Park in Virginia Beach, I was reminded of the importance and the effectiveness of collaborative relationships among state parks, Virginians and local governments.”
Virginia State Parks directly and indirectly had an economic impact last year of $198 million, a 6 percent increase over the previous record in 2011.
“More than 2,000 jobs are created as a direct result of Virginia State Parks,” Johnson said. “Towns and communities across Virginia directly feel the impact of state parks.”
First Landing State Park remains the most visited state park with more than 1.5 million visitors. In 2012, attendance more than doubled at High Bridge Trail State Park, a linear park passing through the town of Farmville and Cumberland, Prince Edward, Nottoway and Appomattox counties. Visitation increased from 86,110 in 2011 to 188,467 in 2012. Pocahontas State Park in Chesterfield County was the fifth most popular park with 427,126 visits in 2012.
Overnight attendance in state parks also set a record with 1,101,915 visitors, a 4 percent increase over 2011, the previous record year.
“I am extremely proud of the exceptional work our staff does each year in hosting record numbers of visitors and overnight guests,” said DCR State Parks Director Joe Elton. “Our record year also saw a record storm – the derecho – hit Virginia the last weekend of June. Twelve parks were impacted by that storm, and Douthat State Park was closed through July 4. Despite the damage coming during one of our busiest weeks of the year, during our busiest year ever, our staff worked tirelessly to get the parks back open and minimize impact on our guests.
For more information about state park activities and amenities, or to make reservations in one of the 25 parks with camping facilities or 18 parks with cabins or family lodges, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-PARK or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.