State parks in North Carolina reported record attendance in 2007 of 13.4 million visits, despite a prolonged drought that closed facilities at some parks and curtailed the summer season for swimming and boating.
The visitation totals represent an increase of 6.5 percent over 2006 and a dramatic 260 percent increase over the past 25 years. In 1982, 5.1 million people visited the state parks system. The previous high attendance for the system was 13.2 million visits in 2002.
Among the parks and recreation areas, 23 reported increases in attendance in 2007. Jockey's Ridge State Park in Dare County reported the highest attendance at 1.5 million visits, an increase of 43 percent over last year.
Other parks with significant increases were Cliffs of the Neuse State Park in Wayne County (20 percent), Gorges State Park in Transylvania County (23 percent), Fort Fisher State Recreation Area in New Hanover County (34 percent) and Hammocks Beach State Park in Onslow County (52 percent).
Attendance at Hammocks Beach was unusually low in 2006 due to restrictions on ferry service to the park's beach that were eased in 2007 following an emergency dredging project.