The number of people visiting North Carolina’s state parks and recreation areas continued at record levels in 2011, with over 14 million visits, matching the all-time record set in 2009 and posting a slight increase from 2010.
WHQR’s Sara Wood reports with a strained economy, visitors are flocking to state parks as an affordable escape.
According to the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation, 15 of the 39 state parks reported increases in attendance last year.
Several parks offering new amenities to visitors reported bigger numbers, such as the renovated marina at Carolina Beach State Park, which saw a 10 percent increase. Jones Lake State Park in Bladen County saw a 26 percent jump from last year.
North Carolina State University’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management estimates the parks system’s annual economic impact on the state at more than $400 million. The state parks system manages more than 215,000 acres within state parks, recreation, and conservation areas.