Local State Park Visitation at historic levels and it’s not slowing down

Visitation at both Sinks Canyon State Park near Lander and Boysen State Park near Shoshoni are at record levels this year. Wyotoday.com photo by Ernie Over

The Director of the Wyoming State Parks and Cultural Resources Commission told the Lander Rotary Club this week that state parks in general, and local state parks specifically, are “way up”in visitation so far this year. “They are more than last year which was a record year,” said Darin Westby in a Zoom meeting Wednesday, “and I expect that trend to continue.”

He said Boysen State Park was up a whopping 250,000 visitors from this point last year, a 270 percent increase. And Sinks Canyon State Park is up 110 percent over a year ago. “There are a lot of people going there. At Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis, the most visited of all state parks, Westby said visitation there is flat, “but I’m still happy because it’s not a decrease.”

Westby attributed the gains to the Covid-19 pandemic and the need for people to get out to the outdoors and away from self isolation and cities. “Anyone notice how many RVs there are on the roads?” he asked rhetorically. “We’re also seeing significant increases in visitors in our water parks. That’s a great way to social distance,” he said.

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Concerning complaints he’d heard that the parks are full, he said that was a good thing. “They were designed to be 100 percent full. And, outdoor recreation of the kind offered in our state parks and cultural sites is one way to keep people in our state. The more people we bring in the more it helps the local economies,” Westby said. “My focus has been to encourage people to come to our parks and enjoy them, then go home and do that again next week.”

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