North Carolina’s state parks are the hot ticket this year. The Ashville Citizen Times reported that through the first three quarters of this year, state parks had 11.9 million visitors, up 2% from the same period in 2011, a record year for visitation, according to the state’s Division of Parks and Recreation.
Several state parks recorded significant increases in visitation for the nine-month period, including Chimney Rock State Park in Rutherford County that completed improvements to access areas and a historic elevator system this past summer. The park recorded a 31% increase in visitation for the period.
In 2011, the state parks system recorded a record total 14.2 million visitors.
“Our continued high visitation reflects the appreciation North Carolinians have for their outdoor resources, as well as recognition that state parks continue to be a safe, affordable and nearby quality outdoor recreation option in a sluggish economy,” said Lewis Ledford, state parks director.
During 2012, no state parks have been closed due to major construction. Also, consistently good weather and moderating gas prices may have contributed to the increase in visitation.