Continue to use state parksPublished 8:25pm Monday, February 11, 2013
Record-attendance levels at North Carolina’s state parks and recreation areas continued in 2012 with 14.2 million visitors, matching attendance levels in 2009 and 2011, according to data released by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
That’s good news at several levels, including that North Carolina residents are using the parks and recreational areas they’ve helped pay for and that out-of-state visitors to those parks and recreational areas are spending money while visiting those locations.
Beaufort County’s Goose Creek State Park saw an increase in attendance when comparing December 2012’s 14,558 visitors to December 2011’s 13,424 visitors, an increase of percent. However, the number of visitors to Goose Creek State Park in 2012 came to 247,326, a drop of 2 percent when compared to the 251,503 visitors in 2011.
Keep in mind that Hurricane Irene’s visit to Beaufort County in 2011 likely affected attendance at the park in the immediate aftermath of the storm.
“Continued record attendance demonstrates that our state parks and state recreation areas fulfill a desire of North Carolinians and their visitors for affordable family recreation and a meaningful outdoor experience,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director. “A direct result of this high visitation is the strong contributions that state parks make to North Carolina’s tourism economy as well as the economies of local communities.”
When looking for vacation spots or a place to spend a weekend relaxing, North Carolina’s state parks and recreational areas should be considered. Take Goose Creek State Park for example. The park overs several hiking trails, camping sites, places to fish, a sandy beach on the Pamlico River for swimmers and educational programs in the visitors center. Other parks offer similar programs and cabins for those who don’t want to “rough it” by camping in tents.
Fees are nominal, but vistas and views are plentiful and magnificent. A state park or recreational area is minutes away, certainly no more than just drive of just a few hours.
Want to learn about wetlands and what lives in them? Spend a weekend at Goose Creek State Park. Visit Fort Macon State Park. Want to spend time in the North Carolina mountains when the leaves are changing color? Visit Chimney Rock State Park or Mount Mitchell State Park. By they way, Mount Mitchell is the highest mountain in the eastern United States.
They are your parks and recreational areas. So, do yourself a favor and use them.