Outdoor Hospitality News

For owners, operators, team members, and anyone else interested in camping, glamping, or the RV industry.

Coastal State Parks in North Carolina See Surge in Visitors in 2023

According to Coastal Review.org, North Carolina’s coastal state parks have experienced a significant uptick in visitor numbers, with the overall attendance at the 42 sites within the North Carolina State Parks system reaching 20.1 million. 

This surge in interest has been particularly notable at two beachfront parks, each drawing over a million visitors, underscoring the growing appeal of the state’s natural landscapes.

The Fort Fisher State Recreational Area in New Hanover County and the Jordan Lake State Recreation Area in Chatham County led the pack, with visitor counts of 1.37 million and 2.5 million, respectively. This increase is part of a broader 4% rise in visitation across the state park system since 2022, with coastal locations alone attracting around 4.9 million visitors, a quarter of the total attendance.

Officials attribute this growth to the success of the “Year of the Trail” initiative, which aimed to promote North Carolina’s trails and encourage investment in the state’s outdoor recreation infrastructure. The initiative’s impact was felt across the state, with several parks adding new campgrounds and visitor centers to enhance the guest experience.

Fort Fisher State Recreation Area, known for its accessible beach and allowance for beach driving, reported a notable increase in visitors from 1.11 million in 2022 to 1.38 million in 2023. The park’s superintendent highlighted the challenges of managing the increased traffic, especially in protecting the habitat of nesting sea turtles during their peak season.

Conversely, Fort Macon State Park, with its historical pre-Civil War fort and beach access, maintained its popularity, drawing approximately a million visitors annually. The park is gearing up to celebrate its centennial with a series of events, including a military reenactment and a car show, to mark its 100th anniversary as a state park.

The state parks‘ revenue from reservations also reflected the increased interest, growing from $690,529 in 2022 to $730,909 in 2023. This rise in revenue, while not the primary goal, mirrors the overall trend of growing visitor engagement with the parks.

In response to the growing demand, the state parks system has been actively expanding its facilities. Hammocks Beach State Park, for example, is in the process of adding a new campground that will accommodate RVs, trailers, and tents, expected to open in the summer.

The expansion of the state parks system is not limited to visitor amenities. In 2023, the system acquired over 2,890 acres, primarily in the Piedmont and mountains, bringing the total acreage to 262,074. This growth emphasizes the system’s commitment to conservation and providing recreational opportunities.

As North Carolina’s state parks continue to attract more visitors and expand their facilities, they underscore the importance of outdoor recreation and natural conservation in the state. The success of initiatives like the “Year of the Trail” and the expansion of park amenities and land holdings reflect a growing appreciation for the state’s natural resources and a commitment to ensuring their enjoyment for years to come.

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Send this to a friend
Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Coastal State Parks in North Carolina See Surge in Visitors in 2023! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/north-carolina/coastal-state-parks-in-north-carolina-see-surge-in-visitors-in-2023/