Attendance At NC State Parks Continues To Climb

Sep 2, 2019

Ranger Kimberly Radewicz is the Acting Superintendent at Eno River State Park in Durham.
Credit Leoneda Inge

Visitation at state parks across the state is bustling in some places and still recovering from Hurricane Florence in others.

A lot of trees fell down, bridges got washed out and there was water erosion at many state parks after the hurricane.

Ranger Kimberly Radewicz is acting Superintendent at Eno River State Park. She says attendance is finally back up at Eno River in Durham.

"Anytime the weather is nice we're going to get a lot of people out," said Radewicz. "People want to be out in nature."

There are over 30 miles of trail at Eno River, with a park totalling 4,500 acres.

“I think people love that they can come here and get away from it all. This is an urban state park," said Radewicz.

Radewicz says 2019 attendance at Eno River and nearby Occoneechee Mountain State Natural Area will likely top the 778,000 visitors it had in 2018. 

Katie Hall is a spokesperson for the state division of state parks. She says attendance at North Carolina's state parks and natural areas broke records in 2016 and 2017, with numbers topping 19 million visitors. Numbers were still headed in that direction last year; then Hurricane Florence hit.

More urban parks like Eno River were not as affected by Florence as the coast. Ginger Kowal of Asheville says this is her third time visiting Eno River.

"This is a great place for kids because they can wade in the water, it's not too deep or strong for them to walk in and they can just hang out there," Kowal said, while visiting with her neice. "You don't need to bring toys, you dont need to have entertainment, you can just hang-out."

This time of year, a lot of visitors at Eno River like to swim, jump and play in the quarry. Radewicz warns, there is no lifeguard on duty and the quarry is not a recommended swimming area. The water is also not tested for contaminants and it is 70 feet deep.

Meanwhile, the state park system is celebrating the re-opening of camping and ferry service to Bear Island at Hammocks Beach State Park. It was damaged after Hurricane Florence.

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