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Visitors flock to Montana state parks

by WILL LANGHORNE
The Western News | November 30, 2021 7:00 AM

Montana state parks saw a surge in visitation for the second year in a row with more than 2.9 million visitors passing through the public lands between January and September.

While the number of visitors might be 2 percent lower than last year, the figure represents a 27.1 percent increase compared to 2019. After crowds set records in July, this year’s devastating wildfire season corresponded with a drop in the number of visitors to many state parks, according to a release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Flathead State Park saw the second-highest number of visits in the state with 307,815 stops. This figure, nevertheless, marked a 29 percent decrease in the number of visits in the first three quarters of 2020.

In north central Montana, Giant Springs State Park saw 342,466 visits — the highest number in the state. Compared with last year, Giant Springs State Park experienced a 9 percent increase in visitation.

“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.