Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

September 21, 2010

Eileen Larrabee
Dan Keefe

New York State Parks Welcome More Than 42 Million Visitors This Year

Total reflects a 3.5 percent increase over 2009

Annual park passport sales up more than 36 percent

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation today announced 2010 summer-end attendance figures. According to Commissioner Carol Ash, more than 42 million people visited state parks from January 1 through the end of August 2010. Statewide attendance is up 1.4 million park visitors over 2009, reflecting a 3.5 percent increase.

"It's encouraging that public visitation to our state parks remains very strong in the current economic climate," Ash said. "Despite starting the season with uncertainty, park visitation rebounded and we even saw a healthy increase in attendance over last year that was aided by spectacular summer weather."

In addition to the park attendance, Ash announced that year-to-date sales of Empire Passports increased by 36 percent. A preliminary count of sales for the 2010 season totaled 67,402, up from 49,506 in 2009.

"Empire Passports offer a real value for park goers," said Ash. "The $65 annual pass offers unlimited day use vehicle entry to New York's state parks and recreational facilities."

The number of booked nights at state parks campgrounds to date totals nearly 540,000, representing a decrease of 3 percent from 2009, which was a record year for camping.Ash welcomed the overall strong attendance figures, considering some parks and historic sites opened several months late and a number of high profile events didn't take place this season, including the Fourth of July fireworks display at Jones Beach State Park. Ash also acknowledged that the uncertainty at the beginning of the season likely resulted in people making alternative plans for such offerings as campsites, pavilions and playing fields.

"Overall, we had a tremendous season and we hope that our visitors enjoyed their time swimming, camping, golfing, hiking and touring at our parks and historic sites," said Ash. "We now turn our attention to the fall season. From fall camping and festivals to experiencing the spectacular fall foliage from a trail or a kayak we look forward to welcoming millions more visitors to our properties."