Visitation steady at state parks across Montana for the first three quarters of 2021
By angelamontana

Posted: November 3, 2021

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recorded more than 2.9 million visitors at state parks from January through September of this year. Compared with the same time period last year, visitation decreased by 2%, and compared to 2019, it increased by 27.1%. After a record setting July, many parks experienced a decrease in visitation as smoke from regional wildfires enveloped much of Montana for extended periods.

“As we look back on another summer of extremely high visitation at state parks across Montana, it’s clear they provide not only extraordinary cultural, historical and recreational experiences for our users but also play a vital role in their health and well-being,” said Hope Stockwell, administrator of the Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division at FWP. “I can’t say thanks enough to our incredible staff, volunteers and partners who work tirelessly to make our parks safe and accessible places to recreate and to ensure that our parks will tell the story of Montana for years to come.”

The top five most visited parks between January and June of this year were:

  1. Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls – 342,466 visits (up 9.5%)
  2. Flathead Lake State Park, Flathead Lake – 307,815 visits (down 29.0%)
  3. Cooney Reservoir State Park, Roberts –  231,265 visits (down 30.1%)
  4. Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Helena –  216,998 visits (up 48.3%)
  5. Lake Elmo State Park, Billings – 177,860 visits (down 13.7%)

State Park Regional Visitation Snapshot:

Northwest Montana (Region 1): Flathead Lake State Park (all units) had the highest visitation in the region at 307,815 visits, a decrease of 29.0% from the first three quarters of 2020.

Western Montana (Region 2) (Missoula): Milltown State Park had the highest visitation in the region with 95,820 visits, an increase of 45.7% from the first three quarters of 2020.

Southwest Montana (Region 3): Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park had the highest visitation in the region with 136,909 visits, an increase of 266.5% from the first three quarters of 2020. Cave tours were suspended in the spring of 2020, and offered in a limited capacity, due to COVID-19 protocols, for the remainder of the summer.

North Central Montana (Region 4): Giant Springs State Park had the highest visitation in the region as well as the state at 342,466 visits, an increase of 9.5% from the first three quarters of 2020.

South Central Montana (Region 5): Cooney Reservoir State Park had the highest visitation in the region with 231,265 visits, a decrease of 30.1% from the first three quarters of 2020.

Southeast Montana (Region 7): Makoshika State Park had the highest visitation in the region with 128,156 visits, an increase of 20.8% from the first three quarters of 2020.

For more information on state park visitation call Pat Doyle 406-444-3818 To view the complete report visit: https://fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/about-state-parks and click on “State Parks Visitation Reports.”

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