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Business and the Economy
Covering state lawmakers, bills, and policy emerging from Jefferson City.

2014 Brought Record Attendance to Missouri State Parks

Scott Harvey

18.5 million people visited Missouri state parks in 2014. Governor Jay Nixon noted Tuesday that figure marks a six percent increase from the year before, and a 25 percent increase since 2008.

In the Ozarks, destinations like Roaring River, Bennett Spring and Current River state parks saw increases in tourism by 10, 15, and 35 percent, respectively.

“Missouri has a strong outdoor heritage, and it’s great to see more people exploring nature, experiencing history, and helping to create jobs in the Show-Me State,” Gov. Nixon said Tuesday during a stop at Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon. “Whether you choose to hike, fish or spend the night in our state parks and historic sites, there are plenty of memories out there waiting to be made.  Here in Missouri – and across the country – more people are discovering that Missouri is a great place to get outdoors.”

Nearly 3,600 campsites are available at the state’s 40 state parks and historic sites. According to a news release, 2014 also included a 5.1 percent increase in camping occupancy at those sites. The park system noted an increase in youth camping, with 26 percent of campers who stayed the night under the age of 18.

Gov. Nixon encouraged Missourians to plan a fishing trip to one of Missouri’s trout parks once the season begins at 6:30 a.m. on March 1. Missouri State Parks includes three trout parks, Roaring River State Park near Cassville, Bennett Spring State Park near Lebanon and Montauk State Park near Salem. 

The news release cites that a 2012 economic impact study found the Missouri state park system brought in $1.02 billion annual in sales, supporting more than 14,500 jobs.