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New York parks eye another record year as campers see value in nature



New York parks eye another record year as campers see value in nature

State Park Campground Manager Matt Driver says every weekend this summer, the Bear Mountain site will be completely booked up. 

“They want to get out in nature, but they really don’t want to go too far,” Driver said of visitors who come from the area, New York City and afar. “So being, like I said, being in close proximity to New York City, it’s a pretty economical vacation.” 

The surge of interest in camping started nationwide around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. But a recent survey by Kampgrounds of America showed a 68% increase in active campers over the last 10 years. 

What You Need To Know

  • According to a Kampgrounds of America survey, more Americans have started camping since 2020
  • That survey also found that since 2014, 98% more households camp at least three times per year
  • More New Yorkers are making it out to state parks, with a record 84 million visits to NY parks in 2023

According to park directors, the trend is helping to drive attendance at New York state parks.

“Camping is really one of the gateway activities in our parks that help get people out into nature,” said Palisades Interstate Park Commission Executive Director Joshua Laird. 

Last year, state park attendance hit a record with more than 84 million visits. Laird says that record could be broken again this year with more people looking to rough it. 

“Just as it was an escape during COVID, now people have really latched on to that,” he said. “That feeling, that wonderful, wonderful feeling of being out in nature and hearing the birds singing. And they’re continuing to come out here in record numbers.” 

Driver says the state’s campgrounds and parks provide a low-cost vacation option while connecting folks with nature, showing it’s possible to have a memorable family getaway while dealing with less travel inflation. 

“We are a pretty economical, easy vacation,” he said. “It’s a great place to bring the family and kids, and you’d have a great time staying on a camping trip.” 

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