A total of 393,175 people stopped by in the first quarter -- marking a 20.2% increase over 2020 and a whopping 78% increase from 2019.
"When you really look at that 2021 versus 2019 those are really eye-opening numbers to see just how many more people are using our parks,” said Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Marketing and Communications Manager Pat Doyle.
It's eye-opening, but it's not a total shock that more people got outside this year. Especially with state parks like Spring Meadow Lake so close to a town.
“With COVID-19 going on, it did force a lot of people out of the house that were people that don’t normally, typically recreate in a typical year," said Doyle. "And I think that a lot of our parks really pose that great gateway to recreating outside. Whether that’s biking, hiking, just going outside for a picnic, and that’s what our parks are there for.”
And our parks are getting even better in the near future.
“Last (Legislative) session we did approval for multiple different infrastructure projects that are going to go a long way in providing additional capacity at some parks but also we’re really looking at a lot of those health and safety things," added Doyle. "So especially things like septic tanks, septic systems, public water systems."
Creating different options for camping, so what we call diversified lodging. Different things like yurts or cabins or things like that, so a lot of positive projects that are coming out there from a safety perspective but also a customer perspective as well."