SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 18, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — The Utah Division of Parks and Recreation is reporting an increase of over 2.6 million in state park visitation from 2019 to 2020.
The total number of state park visitors in 2020 was almost 10.6 million, an increase of 33% from 2019 when Utah’s 44 state parks saw just under 8 million visitors.
“Our state parks saw elevated visitation numbers throughout the traditional summer season,” Jeff Rasmussen, Utah Division of Parks and Recreation director, said. “Not only that, but record-breaking visitation continued into the fall and winter, and has not tapered off like it normally does.”
While there was a decrease in visitation early on in the spring of 2020 due to restrictions at the start of the pandemic, Utahns and non-resident visitors alike soon flocked to state parks once resident-only restrictions were lifted. Since then, increased visitation has been common month after month, the news release said.
“We never closed our doors to the public,” Rasmussen said. “While there was a time when visitation was restricted due to local health orders, we were always open. Access to outdoor recreation is something many Utahns consider an essential part of their life. Our managers, rangers, and staff all worked hard to make this happen. We’re happy we were able to bring some joy to visitors and help keep local economies going in these unprecedented times.”
Not only did visitation increase in state parks, but many popular boating and off-highway vehicle areas throughout Utah also saw increased use, the news release said. In fact, the statewide OHV and boating programs reported increases in both the numbers of registered boats and non-resident OHV permits compared to years past.
Visitation numbers are expected to remain high this year. While many of these visitors are familiar with the outdoors and the best practices and ethics associated with them, many are new to the outdoor recreation arena.
“Because of this, the division is reminding all visitors to continue practicing #ResponsibleRecreation by social distancing, not congregating at trailheads, checking park conditions and capacity levels before getting on the road, keeping recreation areas clean packing out what you bring in, and disposing of trash in the appropriate facilities,” the news release said.