Camping, visitors are up at S.D. state areas

Capitol News Bureau

PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — Campground use was up 26% through June at South Dakota’s system of state parks and rec areas compared to one year ago, and visitation rose 30%, according to new reports presented Friday.

“The trend is continuing that we saw in the early part of the year,” Al Nedved told the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Commission. He is deputy director for the state Parks and Recreation Division. “We’re seeing a lot of good numbers carrying on.”

Regarding visitation: “Very, very strong numbers throughout,” Nedved said.

Except for Custer State Park, where the slow start reflects COVID-19’s effect on travel from outside South Dakota. “Some of the day use is down, but looking more promising all the time,” he said.

A wet spring last year that included flooding in some places knocked about 10 percent of campsites out and hurt use.

Revenue statewide this year was 35% ahead of the 2019 pace, according to Nedved. Sales of annual park-entrance stickers climbed to 18,268, compared to 13,147, for example. People are also paying more to use the parks and campgrounds.

“We’re seeing good numbers across the board,” he said.

Commissioner Mary Anne Boyd of Yankton offered “special kudos” to the parks staff. “Great job guys, well done,” she said.

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