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Slight Increase In Park Visits For 2023, Reports Montana FWP

The outdoor opportunities at Montana’s state parks are no secret to those who like to recreate. Last year, more than 3.1 million visitors took advantage of the hiking, camping, fishing, swimming and site-seeing destinations available at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ 55 parks.

The visitation numbers for 2023 showed a 2.4 percent increase from 2022, a 17.4 percent increase from pre-pandemic levels in 2019 and a 42 percent increase over the past 10 years.

“We are happy to see many people getting outdoors and enjoying our parks,” said Deb O’Neill, FWP’s Parks and Outdoor Recreation administrator.

Montana state parks also provide opportunities for visitors to learn about land and water stewardship and the cultural, natural and recreational heritage of our state.

The four most visited state parks in 2023 were:

•Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls – 584,810 visitors

•Flathead Lake State Park (all units), Flathead Lake – 332,063 visitors

•Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Helena – 169,348 visitors

•Lake Elmo State Park, Billings – 165,041 visitors Visitation data for state parks: Western Montana: FWP saw an estimated 1,359,538 visitors across its 24 western parks (Flathead Lake unit includes six parks), a 3.3 percent increase in visitation compared with 2022, and a 23.8 percent increase from 2019. In 2022, a new park, Somers Beach, was added to the parks system. Many parks in western Montana continue to show an increase in visitation after record numbers in 2020 and 2021.

Central Montana: FWP saw an estimated 1,484,293 visitors across its 23 central parks, an estimated 1.7 percent increase in visitation compared with 2022 and a 11.9 percent increase from 2019.

Eastern Montana: FWP saw an estimated 264,438 visitors across its seven eastern parks, an estimated 1.4 percent increase in visitation compared with 2022 and a 42.1 percent increase from 2019. In 2022, management of Hell Creek State Park was transferred, and visitation estimates have not been calculated since.

FWP partners with the University of Montana's Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research to produce this annual report.

A full list of state parks, regional breakdowns and their estimated visitation levels can be found in the 2023 report. Go to about-state-parks and click on Visitation Reports.

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