According to data from Washington State Parks, the use of campsites as well as other state-owned park facilities surged in 2021.
The number of overnight stays last year was 812,000, up by almost 114,000 or 16% from 2019, before the pandemic, as per a report.
While some opted for a staycation, others looked for safer outdoor options such as camping.
Camping declined at the onset of the pandemic as many facilities were shut because of lockdowns. The number of overnight stays at state park facilities totaled 617,000, a decline of 12% from 2019.
But with the majority of facilities open for business in 2021, the number of overnight stays soared.
Communications Director Amanda McCarthy said Washington State Parks staff had faced some challenges due to increased visitors.
“We still remind folks to pack out what they pack in, follow all park rules, have a backup plan in case the park they wish to visit is crowded, check our website before heading out for important alerts and be courteous to our staff that do an excellent job serving our parks and visitors,” McCarthy wrote in an email.
The majority, 95% of overnight stays, took place at campsites where campers pitched tents. In total, there were 747,000 of these stays in 2021, an increase of 16% from 2019.
The campsite with the highest occupancy rate last year is Fort Worden State Park, located in Port Townsend, with about 86% of available nights booked. Grayland Beach State Park in Pacific County was the second most in-demand campsite, with an occupancy rate of 83%.
Saltwater State Park in Des Moines ranked third, with 79%, located between Seattle and Tacoma and only two miles from I-5, the location could be a factor in the campsite’s popularity.
Next to campsites, the most sought-after facilities for overnight stays were cabins and yurts. Washington State Parks offers these roofed accommodations and some vacation houses for those looking to enjoy the comforts of home during their camping. Overnight stays in these categories increased by a higher rate than campsites from 2019 to 2021, and stays at vacation houses more than doubled.
Twenty-one state parks offer wooden cabins that accommodate four to six people. Nearly 23,000 people stayed in cabins in 2021, not counting the Cama Beach cabins, up 28% from 2019.
Skagit County’s Rasar State Park, located on the Skagit River, had the highest cabin occupancy last year with 87%. The cabins at Cape Disappointment State Park on the Long Beach Peninsula ranked second with 82%, and Bay View State Park, situated at Padilla Bay near the City of Anacortes, had an occupancy rate of 81% for cabins, ranking third.
In seven state parks, campers can also rent yurts. Nearly 11,000 overnight stays at yurts were recorded last year, an increase of 19% from 2019.
This story originally appeared on The Daily News.