Feb 7, 2024
2023 Statewide Attendance Hits 84.1 Million, Surging by Nearly 4.7 Million from Previous Record Set in 2022
11th Consecutive Year of Increased Park Attendance
Park Attendance Data Available Here
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced state parks, historic sites, campgrounds and trails operated by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation saw a record 84.1 million visits in 2023. Total visits statewide surged by nearly 4.7 million, a 6 percent increase, compared to the previous record year in 2022 – underscoring Governor Hochul's commitment to expanding access to parks and outdoor recreation as the park system marks its 100th anniversary in 2024.
“These numbers reflect New Yorkers’ strong demand and appreciation for places to swim, hike, camp, gather with friends and family, and enjoy safe, healthy recreation,” Governor Hochul said. “As we celebrate the New York State Park Centennial this year, my administration is committed to keeping this progress going to ensure New Yorkers have access to world-class recreational facilities for years to come.”
Last year marked the 11th consecutive annual increase in State Park attendance, and the 4.7 million jump in visits was the highest annual increase on record. Over the last two decades, state park attendance has climbed steadily, increasing nearly 60 percent.
State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “State Parks is welcoming many millions more visitors than ever before to see all our improved facilities have to offer. With continued support from Governor Hochul and the hard work of our State Parks team, more exciting projects and programs are coming as we celebrate our State Park Centennial this year, and I am confident we will keep seeing more visitors, who help drive many local economies across the state.”
Highlights of 2023 improvements at State Parks include completing the final phase of a $47 million multi-year project at Hempstead Lake State Park on Long Island with new trails, observation areas and resiliency updates; opening the new $46 million Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Welcome Center at Niagara Falls State Park; a new $6.8 million multi-use trail at Allegany State Park; and $3 million in improvements at Green Lakes State Park in Onondaga County.
Parks and Trails NY Executive Director Paul Steely White said, "The paths, parking lots and picnic tables of our world-class state park system have never been more full. The secret is out: our public lands hold the antidote to digital overload and the elixir for stronger local economies. Kudos to Governor Hochul and State Parks for instigating the most virtuous of cycles: major investment leading to major benefits which in turn spur more demand, more investment and more benefits."
Open Space Institute (OSI) President and CEO Kim Elliman said, “These record-breaking attendance numbers exemplify the love New Yorkers have for our parks and outdoor spaces and also demonstrate a clear need for more park and trail protection and enhancement work to support continually emerging needs. We applaud the administration for their continued commitment to connecting people from all backgrounds and experiences to New York’s wonderful natural, outdoor resources.”
New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said, "Offering unparalleled beauty and steeped in history, our state parks are the crown jewels of New York and one of the most admired parks systems in the word. Add to that their indispensable role in environmental protection and a slate of world-class educational programs, and it’s no wonder they are setting attendance records year in and year out. We thank Governor Hochul for enabling these parks to flourish through robust funding and we congratulate State Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid on this fantastic achievement."
Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “As an organization dedicated to connecting people to nature and each other, we congratulate Governor Hochul and Commissioner Kulleseid on an impressive milestone: more than 84 million visitors enjoyed New York State parks in 2023. That’s more than ever before! We appreciate the vital role state and local parks, as well as conserved lands, play in providing all New Yorkers with affordable and inspiring outdoor opportunities. We’re deeply grateful that Governor Hochul is making continued investment in our parks a priority and look forward to deepening our partnership at Sojourner Truth State Park and other properties during this Centennial anniversary year.”
New York State Parks also kicked off the celebration of its 100th anniversary of the creation of the park system in 1924, including a Centennial Challenge, which encourages visitors to complete 24 activities from a list of 100 to win a prize. Special events are being held in parks across the state through 2024, and there also is a special Centennial line of merchandise.
Last week, State Parks launched the digital “Share Your Story” project and invited the public to share stories, photos, and videos reminiscing on their experiences at New York State Parks and Historic Sites. The multimedia campaign will run throughout 2024 in celebration of the Centennial and offers citizens a chance to celebrate one of New York State’s most significant environmental and cultural legacies and the role it’s played in their lives.
Governor Hochul’s Fiscal Year 2025 Executive Budget proposes $300 million in capital funding to invest in park improvements, which includes $100 million for the celebration of the New York State Parks' Centennial. Projects include transforming the East Bathhouse at Jones Beach State Park with a sprayground and learn-to-swim pool; rehabilitating Harriman State Park’s Lake Sebago Beach, which has been closed since 2011 due to damage from Hurricane Irene; and building a swimming area at Sojourner Truth State Park in Ulster County. Governor Hochulhas also directed State Parks to more than double the number of pools and beaches where lifeguards offer water safety instruction programs for children.
The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees more than 250 parks, historic sites, recreational trails, golf courses, boat launches and more, which saw a record 84 million visits in 2023. For more information on any of these recreation areas, visit parks.ny.gov, download the free NY State Parks Explorer app or call 518.474.0456. Join us in celebrating our Centennial throughout 2024, and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, X (