Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) announced earlier this week that the 2013 annual visitation numbers are the highest on record, with more than 2,112,000 visits to Montana’s 54 state parks from January – December 2013. The 2013 visitation numbers represent a 5% increase over 2012. Annual visitation is also up 28% over the 10-year trend (2004-2013).
The North Central Region (Great Falls area) had the highest annual visitation overall in 2013, and Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls had the highest visitation for the year of all state parks with more than 307,000 visits. Visitation is up for the Montana State Parks system despite Bannack State Park being closed for 7 weeks last summer due to a flash flood.
“These numbers are incredibly strong and exciting,” said Chas Van Genderen, Administrator for Montana State Parks. “Montana families and out of state visitors know that our state parks are affordable places to explore and experience some of the best camping, hiking, fishing, floating and outdoor recreation in the state. We also provide tours, special events, ranger programs and education opportunities enjoyed by more than 100,000 visitors each year. Last year, more than 25,000 school students experienced state parks as outdoor classrooms. We thank the public for their continued support, and look forward to continuing this exciting upward trend in visitation this year in celebration of our 75th Anniversary.”
By comparison to national parks, Glacier National Park was up +2% in 2013 (with 2,190,374 visits) over 2012, and Yellowstone National Park visitation was down -8% for 2013 with (3,188,030 visits) over 2012.
This Montana State Parks 2013 visitation record, compares equivalent data collection dating back for the past decade.
The Top 10 Parks for Annual Visitation:
1- Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls at 307,666 visits (up 5% over 2012)
2- Lake Elmo State Park in Billings at 172,357 visits (down 20% over 2012)
3- Spring Meadow Lake State Park in Helena at 158,842 visits (up 55% over 2012)
4- Cooney State Park in Roberts at 157,198 visits (up 17% over 2012)
5- Wayfarers State Park in Kalispell at 124,949 visits (up 11% over 2012)
6- Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell at 77,591 visits (up 16% over 2012)
7- Tongue River Reservoir State Park near Decker at 76,297 visits (up 36% over 2012)
8- Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park in Whitehall at 70,617 visits (up 9% over 2012)
9- Whitefish Lake State Park in Whitefish at 62,003 visits (down 3% over 2012)
10- Pictograph Cave State Park in Billings at 60,072 (up 17% over 2012)
Hiking in Glacier National Park