Jan 27, 2024 - News

⛰ Parks are poppin'

Pilot Mountain.

Pilot Mountain State Park, about 100 miles north of Charlotte, saw more than 1 million visitors in 2023. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

More than 20.1 million people visited North Carolina state parks in 2023, per the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.

Why it matters: State parks have been slammed, as Axios' Zachery Eanes wrote, a trend that started during the pandemic when state parks reopened and people flocked to the outdoors.

By the numbers: While it's a 4% increase from 2022, attendance is still shy of the 22.8 million record set in 2021. State parks saw a slight drop in attendance in 2022 as people resumed pre-pandemic activities, Katie Hall, a public information officer for the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation, told Zachery.

  • In 2023, five state parks had at least 1 million visitors: Falls Lake, Fort Fisher and Kerr Lake state recreation areas, and Fort Macon and Pilot Mountain.
  • Jordan Lake State Recreation Area remained the most popular spot, logging more than 2.5 million visitors last year. That made it the first state park to reach the 2 million mark in one year.

Of note: The North Carolina state parks system acquired more than 2,890 acres in 2023.

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