In 2011 Virginia State Parks celebrated its 75th anniversary with contests, special events and near-record attendance. They also hosted more overnight visitors than any year in history. Overnight attendance in state park cabins, campgrounds and lodges increased 3 percent last year to 1,055,875, up from 1,022,698 in 2010. (James River SP is pictured above.)
“Year after year, Virginia State Parks continue to host record numbers of visitors,” said Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation State Parks Director Joe Elton, in a press release.
The 2011 overall attendance of 7,836,246 visitors was the second highest in the state park system’s 75-year history, down slightly from the record-high attendance of 8,065,558 in 2010.
“Hurricanes and tornados briefly closed a number of parks, in some cases for several weeks, and yet our daily attendance was the second highest in history, only a modest decline from 2010,” Elton said. “In fact, our daily attendance increased in nearly half of our 35 parks. Virginia State Parks remain a primary vacation destination for millions of people looking for affordable opportunities to enjoy Virginia’s great outdoors.”
False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach
Because Virginia State Parks generally are in less developed areas, they remain an important economic stimulant in rural communities, where millions of visitors spend tens of millions of dollars on local goods and services.
“Our state parks continue to be an excellent investment for the state,” Elton said. “Our parks help generate more than $10 to the local economy for every $1 of general fund money allocated to state parks in the state budget.”
I was the Outdoors Columnist at the Times-Dispatch from 2007 to 2013, writing twice a week about mountain biking, fishing, hunting, paddling and much more. I live a 1/4 mile from the James River, close enough to see bald eagles soaring over my house on their way to find a meal. Pretty cool, eh?