Utah

Visitation at Utah’s state parks registers record numbers in 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — While it came as no surprise that Utah’s state parks posted record numbers in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdown of the National parks, the state parks posted record numbers in 2021 in terms of attendance, shattering the previous years numbers.

With approximately 11.64 million visitors in 2021, the state parks saw a million more visitors than the previous year for a 10% increase. Notably, 2021 marked the second consecutive year that total visitation at Utah’s state parks surpassed the total visitation of National parks in the state. For the year, the National parks recorded 11.3 million visitors.

“State parks are continuing to be popular,” Devan Chavez, spokesman for the Utah Division of State Parks told KSL. “Anyone would be happy with a 9.8% (increase). But a 9.8% increase after a huge increase of 33% the year before, it just shows people are still flocking.”

As for the most popular, Sand Hollow State Park in Hurricane, led the way again in visitation with a record 1.53 million visitors while Dead Horse Point came in second with 1.26 million and Antelope Island finished third with 1.07 million. This marks the first year that multiple state parks received over 1 million visitors.

“We’re really trying to attract people to get off the beaten path. We have so many remarkable amenities that we’re trying to make sure people know about. People can have a less-congested experience,” Vicki Varela, the director of the state tourism office, mentioned to KSL.

The growth in state park visitation resulted in over $120 million in funds and two new state parks during the 2021 legislative session. The two new parks, Lost Creek and Utahraptor, are both in the planning phases for major construction and amenities improvements. All areas of the parks remain in an extremely primitive state and construction is expected to proceed later this year.

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