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Virginia state parks popular with visitors; Leesylvania in PWC ranks fourth

Virginia State Parks once again set a new attendance record with 8,871,822 visitors in 2013, 6 percent higher than 2012’s record attendance of 8,366,179.

    The 36 award-winning Virginia State Parks are managed by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.

  The most visited park in the state was First Landing State Park at Virginia Beach with 1.5 million visitors. It may surprise Prince William County residents to known that Leesylvania State Park in Prince William County was the 4th most frequently visited park, with 534,028 visitors. New River with slightly under a million and Pocohantas with slightly over a million had more.

“In many ways outdoor recreation is weather-driven, and last year we saw the weather impact attendance,” said DCR State Parks Director Joe Elton. “Unseasonable rain in June and July kept people away from state parks, but then mild weather in the fall allowed people the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors and everything state parks have to offer, from an afternoon hike to overnight stays in our cabins, lodges and campsites.”

    Day use attendance in 2013 also reached a record level, increasing to 7,779,790 up 7 percent from 7,264,264 in 2012.

    “Millions of Virginians use state parks for daily exercise, and, like millions of visitors from many other states, they enjoy and experience state parks because they appreciate the beauty of the outdoors and recognize the affordability of parks,” Elton said.

    While state parks are a convenient stop for nearby neighbors or a reasonable alternative for vacationing families and couples during difficult financial times, statewide the parks remain an economic force that affects local communities.

    Virginia State Parks directly and indirectly had an economic impact of $206 million in 2013, a 4 percent increase over the previous record $198 million in 2012.

    “Our state parks are popular because they promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy environment, and they stimulate outdoor recreation and tourism spending important to the health of our economy.” Elton said. “State parks help local economies generate more than $12 for every $1 of general fund money allocated to state parks in the state budget.”

    For more information about state park activities and amenities, or to make cabin or camping, call the Virginia State Parks Reservation Center at 800-933-7275 or visit

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