North Carolina state parks experienced a record number of visitors in 2020.
State parks and recreation areas welcomed 19.8 million visitors last year, 400,000 more than any other year on record and 1.2 million more visitors than in 2019. The previous record for visitation was set in 2017 when the parks had 19.4 million visitors.
Among 41 state parks and recreation areas, 28 reported increases in visitation in 2020, despite the majority of parks being closed for weeks at the outset of the pandemic. Jockeys Ridge State Park in Dare County reported the highest attendance at 1.9 million, and was among seven state park units that had more than a million visitors.
The others were Carolina Beach, Pilot Mountain, William B. Umstead, Fort Macon and Eno River state parks and Falls Lake State Recreation Area. Jordan Lake (down 37 percent), Kerr Lake (down 26 percent) and Falls Lake (down 10 percent) welcomed fewer visitors than previous years due to weeks of closed campgrounds, swim beaches, boat ramps.