Virginia State Parks visitation continues to reach record levels
Governor Terry McAuliffe announced today that Virginia State Parks continued a six-year trend by setting a new attendance record with 8,997,661 visitors in 2014, 1.4 percent higher than 2013’s record attendance of 8,871,822.
“The message is clear,” Governor McAuliffe said, “Virginians look to our state parks for affordable, enjoyable family fun and recreational opportunities. Millions of visitors from across the Commonwealth and across the country appreciate the beauty and serenity of nature found in Virginia State Parks.”
The 36 award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation. Virginia State Parks directly and indirectly had an economic impact of $208 million in 2014, an increase over the previous record of $206 million in 2013.
“State parks help local economies generate more than $12 for every $1 of general fund money allocated to state parks in the state budget,” continued Governor McAuliffe. “Tourism is a major economic stimulus in Virginia, and our state parks provide jobs and help spur spending in rural areas of the state. My family and I have made a commitment to visit every Virginia state park by the time I leave office and I hope my fellow Virginians will join us in making use of these outstanding natural assets.”
In addition to record high attendance in 2014, the Virginia State Parks Customer Service Center also reached a new plateau.
“For the first time, in 2014 half of all state park cabin and campsite reservations were made on-line, highlighting the role technology plays in the administration of state parks and the lives of visitors,” said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Molly Ward. “From the website to social media to geocaching, technology has transformed the way the public connects with parks.”
In 2014, 84,813 reservations were made online, an increase from 83,361 in 2013.
“Six years of continued increases is an impressive achievement, and it says much about the enthusiasm of our visitors who return to our parks month after month, and year after year,” said DCR Director Clyde Cristman. “With more programs and activities, more trails and concerts, more to see and do in our parks, people know that our parks are a good way to spend valuable leisure time.”
Day use attendance in 2014 also reached a record level, increasing to 7,910,226 from 7,779,790 in 2013.
“Last year, our state parks hosted more than 1 million overnight guests and millions more who visited daily,” Cristman said. “With lower gas prices, a growing economy, and the state campaign to commemorate the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War in Virginia, we could see another record setting year in 2015.”
For more information about state park activities and amenities, or to make cabin or camping, call the Virginia State Parks Customer Service Center at 800-933-7275 or visit www.virginiastateparks.gov.