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North Carolina's state parks had more than 28 million visitors last year

pinnacle crowders mountain park 122121 dashiell coleman-min.jpg
Dashiell Coleman
A view from near the top of the Pinnacle trail at Crowders Mountain State Park is seen on Dec. 21, 2021. The Pinnacle is the tallest point in Gaston County, and the state park is less than an hour from Charlotte.

North Carolina’s state parks system saw a record number of visitors last year.

According to data provided Monday by the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources said 22.8 million visitors entered the system’s 41 parks, recreation areas and natural areas, WRAL-TV reported.

That’s a 15% increase from the 19.8 million visitors to parks in 2020, when visits surged as more people sought outdoor activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park was 2021′s most visited park with more than 1.8 million guests, about 100,000 fewer than in 2020. The second most frequented park, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area, saw the largest growth, up 84% from the nearly 877,000 visitors in 2020.

Falls Lake State Recreation Area came in third and saw 46% growth last year. Nearly 1.5 million people traveled to the Wake Forest location, up from the 1 million visitors in 2020.

The 2021 numbers reflect even greater interest among the public to visit even after COVID vaccines had become widely available.

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