Rec Area Attendance Bustin’ Out All Over

Nearly 500,000 visitors flocked to Jordan Lake State Rec Area in May and June for boating, fishing, camping, swimming and other outdoor activities. That’s more than double last year’s attendance during the pandemic when swim beaches were closed and camping more limited.

And that was before a likely record turnout for the July Fourth holiday weekend. Good weather and pent up demand to get outside and visit with friends brought giant crowds to each and every rec area at Jordan. Camp­grounds were filled (875 sites occupied Friday, about 1,100 Saturday and 900 Sunday). Boat ramps were maxed out. Day use areas were mobbed throughout and White Oak was open Satur­day through Monday providing extra space.

Over the holiday, there were typical large city-like problems and citations were issued for parking violations, staying in the park after posted hours, motor vehicle violations, alcohol, drugs and weapons. Gates at several swim areas were closed for several hours due to large crowds and parking issues on Sunday and Monday, according to park officials. That’s becoming common practice on summer weekends this year.

May attendance at Jordan was reported as 250,141 and June 242,465, according to State Parks. In past years Jordan normally ranked near the top in state park attendance, trailing only one or two coastal parks like Jockey’s Ridge. In 2020 State Parks had 19.8M visitors, a new record, but Jordan was down 37 percent (876,00) because much of the park was closed during the pandemic.

Weekday crowds at swim beaches are getting stronger this year, park officials reported, but weekends are busier and holiday weekends the busiest. If you’re thinking about going, consider a weekday visit. Smaller crowds make sunbathing, swimming, hiking, fishing more fun.

Entrance fees ($7/vehicle, $5 for seniors) are charged daily through Labor Day and on weekends/holidays in September.

Joel Bulkley