A trail in Bear Creek Lake SP
Virginia State Parks hosted a record-setting number of visitors during this year’s Memorial Day weekend. The May 25-28 attendance of 314,326 was an increase of 16 percent over Memorial Day weekend 2011. The 35 parks had 43,285 more visitors this year than last year. Attendance in state parks through May 31 was 2.6 million, 13.7 percent more than the same time last year.
“Hot and sunny weather, combined with a national trend of people looking for close-to-home, affordable recreation, made our 2012 Memorial Day weekend a record-breaking one,” said DCR State Parks Director Joe Elton.
Two parks, Lake Anna State Park, in Spotsylvania County, and Raymond R. “Andy” Guest Jr. Shenandoah River State Park, in Warren County, had to restrict access during peak periods when they ran out of parking spaces.
The weekend was significant in the cash register, as well. State parks saw revenue increase 15 percent over last year.
“Over the past two years, we have seen revenues for this weekend increase by 26 percent,” Elton said. “This one long weekend accounts for $688,225 in revenue.”
While Virginia State Parks are a primary vacation destination for millions of people from around the country, state parks also are an economic stimulant to local economies. The estimated economic impact of Virginia State Parks in 2011 was $187 million.
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?