RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina state parks system welcomed more than 20.1 million visitors in 2023 and acquired over 2,890 acres of new land, according to the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. Visitation at state parks increased by 4% — more than 755,000 — from 2022.
“State parks’ growth in visitation and acreage puts an exclamation point on an incredibly successful Year of the Trail in North Carolina,” said Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson. “Residents and out-of-state visitors came out to enjoy what the Great Trails State has to offer, and we are fortunate that Governor Roy Cooper and the legislature understand the rising public demand for outdoor recreation and responded with expanded investments in more land, trails, blueways, and greenways.”
For the second year in a row, Jordan Lake State Recreation Area was the most visited park in the system, welcoming more than 2.5 million visitors — about half a million more than last year. The park also broke the record for visitation to a single park unit, beating the record it set last year, when it became the first park to reach 2 million annual visitors. Five parks reached the 1-million-mark for annual visitation this year: Falls Lake, Fort Fisher, and Kerr Lake state recreation areas, and Fort Macon and Pilot Mountain state parks. Twenty-seven of 42 units saw an increase in annual visitation from 2022. Rendezvous Mountain, a satellite area of Stone Mountain State Park, more than doubled its visitation from the previous year. The largest visitation growth for a state park was 95% — at both Mayo River and Morrow Mountain state parks.