Last weekend, Scott Kroll, 29, of Warminster, and his fiancée, Taylor Blair, decided to camp at Cherry Springs State Park in remote Potter County, Pa. to enjoy the fall foliage and night sky viewing free of light pollution.
But they couldn’t find a camping spot anywhere near the park, billed as “nearly as remote and wild today as it was two centuries ago,” and had to stay elsewhere. Then, when they arrived the next morning, the parking lot was full.
It’s become a common scenario at many state parks during the pandemic.
Overall, there has been an increase of over 7.4 million visits — up 26% — to state parks between March and September compared to the same time last year, even though parks were either closed or barely open in March and April because of stay-at-home orders.
Most of the state’s 116 parks continued to see growth in September — a time when visits usually trail off — according to an Inquirer analysis. Almost 100 saw double digit growth, starting with a record Labor Day.
“I’ve been here 15 years and it’s really something that I haven’t seen the likes of,” said David Sariano, director of business services for the Pennsylvania Bureau of State Parks, which falls under the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR).
Citing Outdoor Industry Association figures, Sariano noted that outdoor recreation is a big economic driver for the Commonwealth, translating to 251,000 jobs and $29.1 billion in consumer spending, all of which brings in state and local tax revenue. And camping this year has created big revenue gains.
Check out the full article from The Philadelphia Inquirer here.