State Parks

A family takes a stroll on the Reedy Creek Trail at William B. Umstead State Park.
Courtesy of North Carolina State Parks

Domestic tourism brought in a record $22.9 billion dollars to North Carolina last year. That's despite Hurricane Matthew and boycotts over House Bill 2, the so-called bathroom bill, contributing to a drop in the actual number of visitors to the state.

A family takes a stroll on the Reedy Creek Trail at William B. Umstead State Park.
Courtesy of North Carolina State Parks

Attendance at North Carolina’s state parks has been on a steep rise in the past three years.

In 2016, the N.C. State Parks centennial year, attendance set a record for the third straight year with 18.8 million visitors. That’s up 9 percent from 2015 and a whopping 32 percent just since 2013. In the years prior to 2014, parks attendance had barely fluctuated for five straight years.

Jockey's Ridge
Dave DeWitt

Governor Pat McCrory is expected to release his state budget proposal this week. It will likely spark the usual fights over Medicaid and teacher pay. But buried inside the budget will be a major reorganization of state government that could impact the millions of visitors to North Carolina’s state parks, science museums, aquariums, and even the Zoo.

The move involves the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and the various attractions it manages: two science museums in Raleigh, 35 state parks, three aquariums, even Jennette’s Pier in Nags Head.