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DNREC Division of Parks & Recreation posts record year for camping

DOVER – DNREC’s Division of Parks & Recreation announced today that 2017 was a record-breaking year for camping, cabins, and cottage stays in Delaware’s state parks. Visitor stays grew by 19 percent, with more than 16,500 additional overnight stays occurring in 2017, compared to 2016. The strongest months of growth in 2017 were the shoulder seasons of April, May, September, October, and November.

Since 2015, DNREC’s Delaware State Parks has invested more than $11 million in campground improvements and renovations at parks throughout the state. Improvement projects are selected based on electronic surveys sent to customers following a stay.

Campers are taking advantage of the improvements being made and responding with more frequent and longer visits to state parks. Over the last five years, overnight stays have increased 47 percent in state parks – the highest at any time in the Division’s history. In 2011, statewide user stays totaled 67,453. This number has grown to 104,469 in 2017. In addition, online travel service ‘Hip Camp’ recently named Delaware the second-most camping-friendly state in the country.

“These numbers show that our award-winning state parks system provides high-quality experiences that all Delawareans can enjoy,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “More than five million visitors come to our state parks, which boosts our tourism economy tremendously. Our state parks staff, volunteers, and concessionaires do an outstanding job providing top-notch campgrounds, educational programs, trails, historic sites, and outdoor recreation opportunities. These new figures bear that out.”

Recent campground improvements include:

Killens Pond State Park – New 50-amp electrical service at campsites, fire pits, and renovated kitchens for the cabins have been added. In addition, a $3 million renovation brought four 45-foot slides to the popular waterpark.

Cape Henlopen State Park – Recent renovations include electric hookups, new bathrooms, a new playground, camp store, additional cabins, and improvements to the nature center.

Lums Pond State Park – A $5 million renovation added full hookup sites and new bathrooms. Over the past five years, the park has seen a 250 percent increase in overnight stays.

Delaware Seashore State Park – The park remains the most popular camping park in the state. A new playground is under construction for the South Inlet campground and the Big Chill Restaurant offers food to visitors just a short walk away.

Trap Pond State Park – Upgrades to bathrooms are underway and the park friends group, the Trap Pond Partners, has raised more than $180,000 in grants and donations to build a new playground for the campground.

Campsites for other holiday weekends are already filling up fast; for example, several parks are already completely booked for Memorial Day weekend.

Campers are advised to think ahead and go online now to make reservations. Bookings can be made up to one year in advance of the date of arrival. To make a reservation, visit www.destateparks.com, or call 877-98-PARKS.