KALISPELL — While normal day-to-day activities were severely impacted in 2020 due to COVID-19, Montana State Parks in the Flathead Valley saw record-setting visitation numbers.
Flathead Lake State Park -- which consists of six unique park units -- was the most visited park in Montana in 2020 with more than 439,000 visitors. It also saw a 33.5% increase in visitors between January and September.
Meanwhile, Les Mason State Park in Whitefish saw a drastic increase in visitors reporting a 38.7% jump. Lone Pine State Park in Kalispell was the state’s seventh most visited park in 2020 seeing a 17.5% in visitors through September.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) spokesman Dillon Tabish says visitors seeking positive mental and physical health opportunities during the pandemic was a big reason for the jump in numbers.
“A huge spike in use this year and I think that really goes to show that during this difficult year where folks were cooped up inside a lot,” Tabish said. “I think it was a really nice mental health break and exercise opportunity to go out and enjoy our public access sites.”
In total, Montana State Parks hosted three million visitors from January through September.