Montana state parks see record visitations for 2020

2 1 Mont Parks Attendance
(Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks)

Montana state parks recorded more than 3.4 million visitors in 2020, a 29.5 percent increase over 2019.

Visitation increased every month in 2020 over 2019, despite temporary closures at a small handful of parks and the absence or sharp decline in school field trips, events and other group activities.

“These record-setting visitation numbers should not come as a surprise to anyone who visited any of our parks in 2020,” said Beth Shumate, Parks Division Administrator at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “The increased amount of people outdoors was evident, and our staff went above and beyond the call of duty to keep our parks safe and accessible.  “Montana State Parks provided immediate physical and mental health relief throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Park visitation was up all around the state as people flocked to the outdoors in 2020. Here are some key visitation numbers.

The top five most visited state parks in 2020 were:

  • Flathead Lake State Park (all units), Flathead Lake – 471,690 visits (up 32.9%).
  • Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls – 384,309 visits (up .1%) .
  • Cooney Reservoir State Park, Roberts – 359,607 visits (up 104.5%).
  • Lake Elmo State Park, Billings – 231,388 visits (up 27.1%).
  • Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Helena – 178,156 visits (up 32%).

Though the increased visitation in 2020 was remarkable and unique, it does continue a trend over the past decade. State park visitation has increased 83 percent over the last 10 years.

“While we don’t know what 2021 has in store for us, we will continue to manage Montana’s state park system with public safety and the safety of our staff as our highest priority,” said FWP director Hank Worsech. “We know how much people value all the amenities we offer and we look forward to another year of welcoming visitors to enjoy Montana’s outdoor opportunities.”

To view the complete report, visit https://fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/about-state-parks and click on “Parks Planning & Reports.”

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