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Montana State Parks Visitation Up 7% for Summer Season

(Helena, MT) –Nearly 1.3 million people visited Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) during the 2012 summer season (May through August) a 7% increase over 2012 and a 16% increase over the 5-year average.

“We’ve just concluded our best summer season yet. The numbers tells us how much Montanans and out-of-state visitors value state parks as a place to spend time with family and friends camping, fishing, swimming, hiking and enjoying Montana’s outdoor heritage,” said Chas Van Genderen, Administrator for Montana State Parks. “These visitation numbers are great news for our communities and local economies.”

Kalispell area state parks (Region 1) saw the highest overall visitation for the summer season with 303,135 visitors, collectively. Helena/Bozeman/Butte (Region 3) area state parks saw the largest increase in overall visitation from 2011 to 2012, up 22%. While Lake Elmo State Park in Billings had the highest visitation of all 54 state parks at 153,000 visitors.

The season peaked in July with more than 445,000 visitors. August was the second busiest month, followed by June and then May.

Visitation by Region

Billings area:
Lake Elmo State Park had the highest visitation of the summer season in this region at 153,000 visitors from May to August, as well as the largest increase in the region from 2011 to 2012 at 52%. Lake Elmo also had the highest visitation of all state parks in 2012.

Eastern Montana:
Tongue River Reservoir State Park had the highest visitation of the summer season at 41,300 visitors from May to August. From 2011 to 2012 Hell Creek State Park had the largest increase in visitation in this region at 54%. Brush Lake had an increase over 2011 levels, however the 2011 data is incomplete so the percentage increase is not complete.

Great Falls area:
Giant Springs State Park had the highest visitation of the summer season in this region at 123,000 visitors from May to August. Sluice Boxes State Park and Smith River State Park had the largest increases in visitation over 2011 in the region at 26% each.

Helena/Bozeman/Butte area:
Spring Meadow Lake State Park had the highest visitation of the summer season at 82,000 visitors from May to August, as well as the largest visitation increase in the region from 2011 to 2012 at 59%. Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park and Bannack State Park were each up 9% over 2011 visitation numbers.

Kalispell area:
Wayfarers State Park had the highest visitation in this region of the summer season at nearly 80,000 visitors from May to August. From 2011 to 2012, Lake Mary Ronan and Les Mason State Parks had the largest increases in visitation in this region at 27%.

Missoula area:
Placid Lake State Park had the highest visitation of the summer season at 40,100 visitors from May to August, as well as the largest increase in this region from 2011 and 2012 at 36%.

Visit Montana State Parks (stateparks.mt.gov) and enjoy camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, boating and more and discover some of the greatest natural and cultural treasures on earth.

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Contact:
Jennifer Lawson
Marketing and Communications Manager,
Montana State Parks
(406) 444-3818
jlawson3@mt.gov