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Montana State Parks see record-setting visitation in 2020

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Posted at 11:15 AM, Nov 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 13:15:09-05

Montana State Parks hosted 3 million visitors from January through September of this year marking an increase of 24.4% when compared with the same time period last year.

Visitation increased at 80% of state parks across Montana for the year, with eight parks exceeding 100,000 visitors, according to a news release.

“These visitation increases represent the busiest summer on record for the State Park system. FWP staff, volunteers, and AmeriCorps members went above and beyond to keep these sites open, and to safely host visitors in the face of the pandemic,” said FWP director Martha Williams.

“Countless families and visitors to Montana had memorable park visits this summer, and we hope their positive experiences will keep them coming back to enjoy the great recreational and cultural opportunities stewarded by Montana State Parks," Williams added.

The top five most visited parks between January and September of this year were:

  1. Flathead Lake State Park (all units), Flathead Lake - 439,298 visitors (up 33.5%)
  2. Cooney Reservoir State Park, Roberts - 330,730 visitors (up 26%)
  3. Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls - 312,655 visitors (down -0.2%)
  4. Lake Elmo State Park, Billings - 206,091 visitors (up 25.7%)
  5. Thompson Chain of Lakes State Park, Libby - 155,483 visitors (up 42.5%)

Below is a list of the most highly visited state parks in each of FWP's administrative regions:

  1. Region 1 (Kalispell): Flathead Lake State Park (all units) had the highest visitation in the region with an estimated 439,298 visitors, an increase of 33.5% over the same time period last year.
  2. Region 2 (Missoula): Placid Lake State Park had the highest visitation in the region with an estimated 84,922 visitors, an increase of 36.0% over the same time period last year.
  3. Region 3 (Bozeman): Missouri Headwaters State Park had the highest visitation in the region with an estimated 58,109 visitors, an increase of 29.4% over the same time period last year.
  4. Region 4 (Great Falls): Giant Springs State Park had the highest visitation in the region, with an estimated 312,655 visitors, a slight decrease of -0.2% over the same time period last year.
  5. Region 5 (Billings): Cooney Reservoir State Park had the highest visitation in the region with an estimated 330,730 visits, an increase of 26.0% over the same time period last year.
  6. Region 7 (Miles City): Makoshika State Park had the highest visitation in the region with an estimated 106,063 visitors, an increase of 45.4% over the same time period last year.