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Record attendance at Missouri’s state parks in 2021

JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — State parks in Missouri are proving to be more popular than ever, with record numbers of visitors.

A park visitor follows a trail at Castlewood State Park.

More than 22.5 million people visited Missouri state parks in 2021, a nearly 7% increase from 2020 and an all-time high for the state’s 92 parks and historic sites.

The state also reported a 24% increase in campsite rentals and a 17% increase in lodging units rented.

Division of State Parks Director David Kelly said the biggest complaint the division got was that the parks are so popular people can’t always get into them.

The popularity is driving the state to plan new parks, build new cabins and take other steps such as increase internet connectivity and upgrade current campsites. Much of that work will be funded with money from the American Rescue Plan Act.

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