Pa. parks see growth during pandemic | The Numbers Racket

By: - February 1, 2021 6:30 am

(C) Sandra Burm –

Nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic began, people everywhere have taken up hobbies that allow them to mitigate their risk of exposure and practice social distancing while doing them. 

One such activity that has proven popular with Pennsylvanians is hitting the trails at the Keystone State’s 121 state parks. 

In fact, a poll released by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which manages state parkland, found that 86 percent of visited parks, trails and open spaces agree time spent in these areas has been essential to their mental and/or physical health during the pandemic. 

Additional Findings

75 … the percentage of respondents who agree that funding outdoor recreation facilities, such as parks, trails and open spaces, should be considered a top priority by state and local governments. 

37 … the percentage of respondents that said their interest in learning new outdoor recreation and hobbies/skills increased since the pandemic began. 

By the Numbers

So just how many people hit the commonwealth’s trails in 2020? 

DCNR saw an increase of 7.5 million users/visitors to its website in 2020 over the previous year, including more than 4 million new users.

State park attendance has increased from 37 million in 2019 to more than 46.9 million in 2020, a 26.6 percent increase. 

About half of all respondents visited a local trail or park. 

Outdoor Economics

According to the poll, about one out of five respondents tried a new recreational activity. 

Another one out of five respondents bought outdoor recreation equipment, gear or clothing. 

Of those: 

42 percent spent $50-$249, 

Nearly 17 percent spent $250-$499, 

10 percent spent $500-$749, 

And 5 percent spent $1000 or more.

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Cassie Miller
Cassie Miller

A native Pennsylvanian, Cassie Miller worked for various publications across the Midstate before joining the team at the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. In her previous roles, she has covered everything from local sports to the financial services industry.