North Carolina state parks report 11.9 million visitors in first three quarters of 2012
RALEIGH – North Carolina’s state parks had 11.9 million visitors through the third quarter of 2012, up 2 percent from the same period in 2011, a record year for visitation, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation.
A number of state parks recorded significant increases in visitation for the nine-month period, including Hammocks Beach State Park in Onslow County (63 percent), Lake Waccamaw State Park in Columbus County (60 percent), Jordan Lake State Recreation Area in Chatham County (36 percent) and William B. Umstead State Park in Wake County (34 percent). Chimney Rock State Park in Rutherford County completed improvements to access areas and a historic elevator system, and recorded a 31 percent increase in visitation for the period. In 2011, the state parks system recorded a record 14.2 million visitors.
“Our continued high visitation reflects the appreciation North Carolinians have for their outdoor resources, as well as recognition that state parks continue to be a safe, affordable and nearby quality outdoor recreation option in a sluggish economy,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director.
During 2012, no state parks have been closed due to major construction. Also, consistently good weather and moderating gas prices may have contributed to the increase in visitation.