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Utah State Parks report increase of over 2 million visitors in 2020, despite pandemic

Goblin Valley State Park earns ‘Dark Sky Park’ designation
Posted at 4:24 PM, Feb 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-18 18:30:56-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Despite restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic, Utah State Parks reports that park visitation increased by 2.6 million between 2019 and 2020.

“Our state parks saw elevated visitation numbers throughout the traditional summer season,” Jeff Rasmussen, Utah Division of Parks and Recreation Director, said in a press release. “Not only that, but record-breaking visitation continued into the fall and winter, and has not tapered off like it normally does.”

Read: Three more Utah State Parks awarded Dark Sky Park status

In 2019, all of Utah's 44 State Parks saw just under 8 million visitors. In 2020, that number skyrocketed to almost 10.6 million visitors.

On April 17, 2020, officials announced many state parks would reopen, after weeks of being limited to only in-county residents to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Some remained closed or limited to only in-county residents based on local public health orders.

“We never closed our doors to the public. While there was a time when visitation was restricted due to local health orders, we were always open,” Rasmussen said in the release.

Read: Sand Hollow State Park overwhelmed by visitors after COVID-19 restrictions lifted

Officials report many popular boating and off-highway vehicle areas throughout Utah also saw increased use.

State Parks expect visitation to remain high in 2021 as people continue to utilize outdoor spaces for entertainment during the pandemic.