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Oklahoma Sees Camping Boom During Pandemic

As COVID-19 restrictions slowed traveling plans and social distancing was pushed forward, many Oklahomans went outdoors, according to a report.

National and state parks witnessed an astronomical increase in visitors in 2020. Reservations for camping filled quickly, leaving lengthy waitlists for spots.

Outdoorsy’s new report uncovers how popular camping has become over the last five years, particularly with the rise of glamping and van life. As per data from Recreation.gov, close to 3.3 million camping reservations were made during the pandemic (2020), which is up by two-thirds from 2015.

From 2015 to 2020, Recreation.gov recorded an 82.8 percent increase in reservations for camping within Oklahoma.

Oklahoma ranked 16th among the states with the fastest increase in camping. The state reported 88,808 camping reservations in 2020, increasing 40,238 from 2015.

The state’s growth was higher than the national average of a 68.1 percent increase in reservations from 2015 to 2020 and an increase of total camping reservations of 1,323,031. Nationally, 3,267 reservations for camping were made.

“We saw a substantial increase in park visitation during 2020 and 2021. On average, state parks saw 9.5 million visitors, but that number jumped to 12.5 million in 2020,” said David White, public information officer for TravelOK, Oklahoma’s Tourism and Recreation Department.  The data for 2021 isn’t yet available. However, the state has seen more than 922,000 nights spent in parks from the beginning of 2020.

Lake Murray, Beavers Bend, and Great Plains state parks had the highest attendance combined for FY 20-21.

“However, the increased visitation also was an opportunity for increased revenue to reinvest in the park system. Additionally, the department is implementing a systemwide capital improvement strategy with noticeable project completion at several parks with more on the way,” said White.

“We are expanding and modernizing many campgrounds throughout the system as part of our capital improvement strategy.”

The Oklahoma Legislature authorized a $48-million bond for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department to enhance the state park system. Quartz Mountain Lodge recently underwent a complete renovation. Belle Star Lodge at Robbers Cave and Lakeview Lodge at Beavers Bend are currently being renovated.

A major renovation also improved the Buckeye campground at Beavers Bend, and new bathroom units were added across the system. Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation also bought land near the Little Sahara State Park, which doubled the camping capacity.

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Rebecca Morris
Rebecca Morris
February 16, 2024 2:41 pm

It’s remarkable to see the surge in camping in Oklahoma. Do you have any must-visit camping spots in the state?

Jessica Phillips
Jessica Phillips
March 15, 2024 2:26 pm

You know, the camping scene in Oklahoma really hit its stride during the pandemic. It’s like the state’s natural beauty just called out to everyone, drawing us closer to the great outdoors. I reckon as more folk seek solace in nature, Oklahoma’s state parks become havens of peace and adventure, inviting us to soak in all the wonders this state has to offer. Cool, right?

March 16, 2024 11:06 am

Ready to set up camp under the Oklahoma sky? Remember those marshmallows and spooky stories for a camping adventure you won’t forget!

March 23, 2024 1:30 am

Oklahoma is definitely the place to be for camping these days. If you’re thinking of joining the camping trend, why not explore some of the state’s hidden gems in state parks? You might just discover some amazing landscapes and meet like-minded camping enthusiasts along the way.


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Hi, you might find this article from Modern Campground interesting: Oklahoma Sees Camping Boom During Pandemic! This is the link: https://moderncampground.com/usa/oklahoma/oklahoma-sees-camping-boom-during-pandemic/