Visitors Flock to Montana State Parks in Record Breaking Numbers - News, Sports and Weather

Visitors Flock to Montana State Parks in Record Breaking Numbers

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Officials with Fish, Wildlife, and Parks confirmed that this summer, Montana's 54 state parks saw more than 1.5 million people. That's a 10% increase over 2012, putting it down in the books as the best summer season on record.

"Montana is on a lot of people's bucket list."

It's not all out-of-state visitors, though.

Diane Medler, Kalispell Convention and Visitor Bureau said,"For our state parks 75% of people who come to state parks are Montana residents."

Getting Montanans to explore their own backyards is a pretty easy job, according to Diane Medler with the Kalispell Visitor and Convention Bureau.

"We're really targeting certain times of the year to increase visitations during those times that are typically a little slower."

Medler helps coordinate events like dragon boat in September that have an international pull, while located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Wayfarers State Park in Bigfork.

Wayfarers State Park had the highest number of visitors in all of Northwest Montana hitting almost 100,000 this summer, a nearly 10% increase over last year.

"If people don't have the time or are watching their budgets a bit more there's no need to leave. You can have a great vacation here."

Giant Springs State Park in Great Falls had the highest number of visitors of all the state parks, almost hitting 175,000. For the west central region, Salmon Lake Park attracted the most tourists with more than 50,000. At just over 125,000 visitors, Cooney State Park topped the southwest list of state parks. Although Wayfarers boasted the most summer visitors in the northwest, Lone Pine State Park reported the biggest jump over last year in the region: up by 17%.

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