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A record year: Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore reports over a million visitors in 2020

Visitors to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore are shown kayaking, which is one of the areaÕs prime attractions. Over 1.2 million people visited Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in 2020, which broke the previous park record of 858,715 set in 2019. The number of visitors to the park has been growing in recent years, as nearly 800,000 visited the lakeshore in 2017, according to a previous National Park Service report. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Interior)

MUNISING — ­­­Across the country, more than 237 million people visited national parks last year, according to the National Park Service, which oversees Pictured Rocks. Visitation at most parks decreased when compared to 2019 figures. However, 14 NPS sites in addition to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore experienced record crowds and welcomed new visitors in 2020, including two in Michigan: downstate Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and River Raisin National Battlefield Park.

The 41% increase in Pictured Rocks visitors over 2019 was likely due to COVID-19 and travelers’ desires to find some open spaces, the NPS said. Spring 2020 numbers were down compared to the previous year, likely because of restrictions first implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic, but July through October were all were record breaking months at the park:

≤ July 2020 up 48% over 2019;

≤ August 2020 up 55% over 2019;

≤ September 2020 up 55% over 2019; and

≤ October 2020 up 122% over 2019

Trails, beaches, overlooks and open spaces provided safe ways for visitors to recreate, get some fresh air and stay active.

“This past year has reminded us how important national parks and public lands are to overall wellbeing,” NPS Deputy Director Shawn Benge said. “Throughout the country, national parks provided close-to-home opportunities for people to spend much needed time outdoors for their physical and psychological health.”

The top three most visited NPS sites were: Blue Ridge Parkway at 14.1 million, Golden Gate National Recreation Area at 12.4 million and Great Smoky Mountains National Park at 12.1 million.

In 2019, national park visitor spending contributed more than $41.7 billion to the U.S. economy. At Pictured Rocks, park visitors spent an estimated $38.1 million in 2019 in local gateway communities. These expenditures supported 477 jobs and $11.7 million in labor income, according to last year’s NPS Visitor Spending Effects report.

The 2020 report on the economic benefits from visitor spending is expected later this year.

At Pictured Rocks NL, visitation has been on the rise since 2015.

For an in-depth look at 2020 and past years visitation statistics for Pictured Rocks NL and other national park sites, go to the National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics website at https://irma.nps.gov/STATS/

The NPS Social Science Program is responsible for coordinating visitation statistics reporting for units administered by the NPS. To learn more, visit the National Park Service Social Science website: at https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/visitation.htm.

For more information about Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, go to www.nps.gov/piro.

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