Delaware State Parks Visitation Exceeds 8 Million for 2022
Delaware State Parks’ growing popularity set another attendance record in 2022 by surpassing the 8 million visitors mark, the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control announced today.
While other state park systems saw declines in visitation in 2022, Delaware State Parks, under administration of DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, continue to experience stellar if not skyrocketing growth. Visitor attendance at Delaware State Parks has increased each year since 2015 making this the eighth year in a row a new visitation record was set. In the past five years alone, Delaware State Parks visitation is up 37%.
Alapocas Run, Auburn Valley, Brandywine Zoo, Fort Delaware and Killens Pond state parks and the First State Heritage Park within Delaware’s nationally-recognized park system all saw visitation increase by more than 10 percent in 2022. The most visited state park in 2022 was Cape Henlopen with 1.9 million visitors, accounting for almost one in four of all park visits.
“We are excited that the public is getting out to Delaware State Parks more than ever and discovering the many attractions and offerings the parks provide through our Division of Parks and Recreation,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin of the record year. “Not only is attendance up, but I am extremely proud of the high marks our division staff receive for customer service, thanks to their dedicated efforts.
“We also are aware that such voluminous visitation year-to-year calls for more staff working both at the parks and in administration – and there currently is a range of job openings we look to fill as DNREC and the Division of Parks and Recreation work to meet demands from the rising growth in visits made to Delaware State Parks.”
DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation programs, volunteer hours and amenities all saw increases in 2022 compared with 2021. These included a 28% increase in school program participants, a 23% increase in volunteer hours, a 12% increase in visitors to Deerfield and Garrisons Lake golf courses with nearly 60,000 rounds of golf played, 40,000 visitors for events in 2022, and a 10% increase in visitors to the Killens Pond Water Park.
In light of the parks’ continuous growth, the Division of Parks and Recreation advises that all parties who plan to camp or host events in Delaware State Parks are encouraged to make reservations as early as possible as these spaces book faster than pre-COVID-19 visitation levels.
Delaware State Parks annual passes and surf fishing permits are on sale now and can be purchased at any state park office Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., or online at www.destateparks.com/Know/PassesTagsFees.
In other Delaware State Parks news from 2022, after demonstrating a high quality of operation, management and service to the community through a rigorous peer evaluation in 2022, the DNREC Division of Parks and Recreation achieved accreditation from the National Recreation and Park Association’s Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies (CAPRA). Fewer than 2% – or 199 out of 12,000 parks and recreation agencies in the United States – are CAPRA accredited.
As Delaware State Parks staff gears up another busy year, the Division of Parks and Recreation is ramping up hiring to meet the challenge. Job openings in administration, enforcement, interpretation, lifeguarding, maintenance, park leadership and more are available, and job postings can be found at www.jobapscloud.com/DE.