State park visitor numbers up in 2015 – which ones have done the best?


2015 has been a good year for Minnesota's state parks so far, thanks to a significant increase in visitor numbers.

A post-Labor Day report from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reveals the number of people buying one-day and annual vehicle permits rose by 16 and 12 percent respectively up to Sept. 7, compared to 2014.

Overnight stay sales have also risen by 9 percent in the last year, which the DNR says continues "the trend of steady increases over the past several years."

"We’re pleased to see such a significant increase in the number of people making time to get outdoors," said DNR Parks and Trails director Erika Rivers, "and we hope today’s visitors will pass along their love of the outdoors to the next generation so that the trend continues."

With experts predicting "a spectacular fall" for Minnesota, Rivers said the DNR expects parks to stay busy in the coming weeks.

The DNR also released figures to BringMeTheNews that shows which state parks sold the most permits and camping pitches so far this year (though this does not guarantee they had the most visitors, given that annual permits can be used anywhere.)

While not selling as many permits as some of the more well-known state parks like Itasca and Fort Snelling, the biggest improvement so far this year came at Blue Mounds State Park, near Luverne in southwest Minnesota, which increased sales by an impressive 61 percent.

Here are some of the top performers:

Most daily and annual permits sold

Itasca State Park: 42,569 sold, $377,589 revenue generated, 6% rise on 2014.

Interstate State Park: 27,479 sold, $222,279 revenue, 30% rise.

Fort Snelling State Park: 14,047 sold, $173,873 revenue, 27% rise.

Jay Cooke State Park: 13,777 sold, $175,296 revenue, 28% rise.

Whitewater State Park: 12,885 sold, $156,830 revenue, 13% rise.

Most occupied camping sites

Itasca State Park: 22,697, 6% rise.

Lake Carlos State Park: 9,926, 1% rise.

Whitewater State Park: 9,240, 6% rise.

Jay Cooke State Park: 8,867, 15% rise.

St. Croix State Park: 8,446, 10% rise.

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