CHEYENNE — Despite the completion of what many consider the unofficial summer camping season, generally Memorial Day to Labor Day, this year the season has continued on with several Wyoming State Parks setting visitation records through September.
Although September is generally considered a shoulder season for Wyoming’s State Parks, this year nearly 550,000 visitors camped, fished, hiked and biked during the month.
Beginning in April and lasting through September several Wyoming State Parks enjoyed visitation numbers ranging from 100 percent to 200+ percent above the five-year average. These numbers were seen despite all parks having been closed for camping from March 30 through May 15. However, many users still visited the parks for day-use activities such as boating, hiking and fishing.
This increased visitation not only proved to be a major economic contributor to the state’s tourism industry, but a vitally important asset to the public’s physical and mental health.
“We continue to be a great alternative. “Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resource Director Darin Westby said. “We offer an opportunity to get outdoors where people can easily social distance and enjoy time with family.”
For the season, Curt Gowdy State Park saw a whopping increase of 231 percent over the five-year average with highs of 581 percent in March and 474 percent in April.
Meanwhile, Boysen State Park’s visitation saw numbers 241 percent above the five-year average with Seminoe and Sinks Canyon state parks registering numbers 132 percent and 115 percent above the five-year average, respectively.
So far for the year, Wyoming’s State Parks saw 4,878,765 visitors, more than a million more than last year’s record season of 3,117,039, an increase of 34 percent.
“We have seen phenomenal increases in visitation to our State Parks, and use of our motorized trails. Increased tourism and outdoor recreation are making a larger economic impact to Wyoming. Currently outdoor recreation accounts for 4.4% and $1.65 billion to the state’s GDP. We see no reason we can’t double these numbers in the coming years.” states Westby.
Park officials expect the popularity of Wyoming’s State Parks and outdoor recreation as a whole to continue into the future.
“Our state is becoming more and more popular for outdoor recreation tourism. People are visiting in record numbers and will continue to do so,” states Chris Floyd of the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Office. “The outdoor recreation sector will continue to grow in Wyoming. We need to do it right and we can do it through proper planning. The key is to get them here, spread them throughout Wyoming, help them spend their dollars, insure they’re being good stewards of the land, and then let them go home.”