Pennsylvania state parks see growth in visitors during pandemic | News | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Pennsylvania state parks see growth in visitors during pandemic

click to enlarge Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County in winter - CP PHOTO: JARED WICKERHAM
CP Photo: Jared Wickerham
Raccoon Creek State Park in Beaver County in winter
Nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, people everywhere have taken up hobbies that allow them to mitigate their risk of exposure and practice social distancing while doing them.

One such activity that has proven popular with Pennsylvanians is hitting the trails at the Keystone State’s 121 state parks.

In fact, a poll released by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages state parkland, found that 86% of visited parks, trails and open spaces agree time spent in these areas has been essential to their mental and/or physical health during the pandemic.


Additional Findings

75 … the percentage of respondents who agree that funding outdoor recreation facilities, such as parks, trails and open spaces, should be considered a top priority by state and local governments.

37 … the percentage of respondents that said their interest in learning new outdoor recreation and hobbies/skills increased since the pandemic began.

By the Numbers

So just how many people hit the commonwealth’s trails in 2020?

DCNR saw an increase of 7.5 million users/visitors to its website in 2020 over the previous year, including more than 4 million new users.


State park attendance has increased from 37 million in 2019 to more than 46.9 million in 2020, a 26.6% increase.

About half of all respondents visited a local trail or park.

Outdoor Economics

According to the poll, about one out of five respondents tried a new recreational activity.

Another one out of five respondents bought outdoor recreation equipment, gear or clothing.

Of those:
42% spent $50-$249,


Nearly 17% spent $250-$499,

10% spent $500-$749,

And 5% spent $1000 or more.

Cassie Miller is a reporter with the Pennsylvania Capital-Star where this story first appeared.

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