Attendance numbers through Labor Day indicate fewer residents made use of the state's parks and campgrounds this year than in recent summers past.

While parks are generally seen as a cheaper, close-to-home means of recreation in down economic times, officials and advocates cited poor weather - from late-spring flooding to a late-summer tropical storm that closed some New York parks - for the unimpressive turnout.

"People don't go to the park when it's raining," said Dan Keefe, spokesman for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "We've had lousy late-summer weather, and the spring was wet as well. There was a slow start to the season and a slow finish."

As of Labor Day, almost 240,000 fewer people had entered Saratoga Spa State Park compared to last year, a drop of 15 percent.

Admission to Moreau Lake State Park was down about 14 percent this year, according to the state.

Both parks charge $8 per vehicle to enter, with additional fees for other activities.

Camping reservations in the Adirondacks, which account for more than 85 percent of reservations statewide, were down 7 percent through Labor Day, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Just over 900,000 reservations had been made for the 42 campgrounds the DEC operates in the Adirondacks through Labor Day, according to the department. About 135,000 reservations were made at state campgrounds elsewhere.

Camping numbers statewide fell this year and fell last year as well, according to the DEC.

About half of the state's campgrounds closed on Labor Day for the year. Twenty Adirondack campgrounds will remain open through October.

The state charges between $16 and $28 to camp overnight, depending on the campground.

The DEC has warned campers and hikers that damage caused by Tropical Storm Irene could create dangerous conditions. Because of the storm, every DEC campground in the Catskills was closed indefinitely, and state parks and historic sites on Long Island and in the Mohawk Valley - and a few locally - were affected.

Robin Dropkin, executive director of the advocacy group Parks & Trails New York, said the tropical storm had a severe impact on what might have been a busy Labor Day for state facilities. The loss could reduce revenue for the state, she said, which has often placed parks as a low priority come budget season.

"There were so many parks that were damaged or closed," she said.

She lamented the loss in funding for parks and said $67 million in improvements that were scheduled for facilities in the Capital District area are now backlogged. Reduced hours due to slashed budgets could mean fewer visitors and thus less revenue, Dropkin said.

She said statewide park attendance increased between 2009 and 2010 by just over 1 million visits because of the poor economy.

"People are staying close to home," she said.

(14) comments


good close them all


being an avid camper for years, we didn't go camping this year or use the parks for a number of reasons. First off cost, permits and registrations for boats and RVs have gone up not to mention the prices of camping supplies, gas and propane. Most parks now have so many rules that I would rather just relax in my backyard where I can have a cigar and drink a beer and not have to be harassed and questioned where I got my wood and get my boat searched 3 times in one day to make sure I have enough life preservers and that I'm not drunk. Tolls are a reason why many people I know don't come to the Adirondacks as well not to mention the high prices of gas and other things in NY. Most people I used to camp with now stay home as well, camping is enough work and hassle with the wet NY weather lately and it's just too much to have to deal with the hassles of all the laws and price gouging of the state. You've taken the fun out of everything.


I enjoy the parks but yes, the weather has been terrible. I really don't understand the sudden "staying close to home" comment near the end, it's not as if that is anything new, it has been said every summer ever since the economy was blown to bits. And quite frankly, the fees are awfully hefty, especially for park users like myself who are only spending a few hours rather than a full day. There are plenty of recreational areas and mountains around here that are still free and satisfying.


NY and the Adirondacks in particular have some truly spectacular resources. Other states don't have nearly the quatity or quality of park resources that NYS has. I don't think its at all unreasonable for users to pay an appropriate share of the cost. Those who feel harassed if their wood and boats are checked in order to protect our lakes and forests from invasive pests should stay home, everyone will be happier.


Could it also have something to do with the Reserve America system? Used to be, you could pull up to a campground & pick out a site. Now it's have a credit card, book a minimum stay. Then when you get there, 1/2 the park is empty anyway!Forget it! Also, TOTALLY agree w/Abacab - stop harassing everybody! Last time we went camping, we were scolded for putting our empties in a grocery bag & keeping it off the ground, away from animals. And the weather was crappy this summer.


Yes...we will stay home probably don't even live in the Adirondacks...I'm sorry we are not elite enough to be in your perfect dineylanesque little pristine private park of yours...we won't spend anymore of our money to the state than we have to from now on, you can pay higher taxes...while I plan to save my money and bale out of this state where there are less taxes and less silly laws and less harassment. You cops and park rangers can lose your comfy boating, horsey and ATV jobs as they continue to close down the parks and museums...Good luck with that...working real WELL for New York...isn't it? Maybe it's time to make the Adirondacks it's own state and Charge "Out of Staters" Triple the price.


We're also avid campers, but we did not go this year for a few reasons. First, the weather was rough this year. Normally not something that keeps us out of the woods, but this year we also had a new baby we would have had to bring with us.

While the ReserveAmerica system isn't new, and certainly not an explanation why this year there would be a sudden decline, I will concede that I don't like the system. I miss the days when you could decide, spur of the moment, to go out for a weekend and just drive in and find a site. It's just not the same anymore.


We're not just staying close to home because of the economy--we're staying home. The economy feels tough as ever. Most are on a bare-bones budget, even campground costs seem unaffordable. I'd like to see our town playgrounds get improvements and keep the family fun real local and as cheap as possible.


I can agree w/you on some things about NYS but we just came back from SC (we have gone down there 3 yrs. now); checked it out more than we ever did & discovered the only thing cheaper is that there are no school taxes. In return for that most people we met & real estate agts. told us that too is people end up putting their kids in private schools bec. the public ones are bad. Otherwise food was more we did'nt buy food where the condo was that we stayed in-where the locals go like us; electric is more-water is more, sales tax is more, etc. the list goes on. I think if anyone is looking to leave NYS they should check things out very well. By the way they had a lot of rain down there too, a miserable winter, & southern hospitality ends at their car. No one lets you in; they would rather run you over. Some other things. Unemployment is higher in the south, wages are less, ins. is more, etc. Housing & rents are more; they use very cheap labor for building.


I'm not sure where you people were, but I work in Lake George. We keep track of the weather everyday, and it has been amazing this summer. Other than May, every Saturday has been sunny and beautiful July and August except for one. Mon - Wed has been messy (my days off), but the weekends have been wonderful.


lbz1947, you are just plain wrong. I also checked out South Carolina (extensively), and moved here. Couldn't be happier. Food is way cheaper and much fresher. Electric is 1/2 NY cost. Gorgeous weather. As to hospitality, I can see why you didn't get much - sounds like you have a cloud over you. I, on the other hand, have been astounded at how friendly everyone, and I mean everyone is. Driving is different everywhere you go - I adapted. Gasoline is 25 cents cheaper. Housing? We bought a beautiful 3500 sq. ft. home in a nice neighborhood for $54.00/sq.ft. Our taxes are $1100/yr. Winters are mild. Summer is more than 2 months long. Medical care is amazingly better than upstate NY. Plenty of cultural opportunites where we are, and lots of parks, bike trails, libraries, etc. Sorry you didn't fit in, but please don't portray your experiences as if they ware universal. I don't miss the nanny state at all, and I'm a NY native.


Anyone consider this is due to technology and our more connected world? I know must young kids would rather stay home and play XBox than go be eaten alive by insects for a weekend with *gasp* their parents. The times they are a changing. Maybe when the campgrounds have free wifi and they install bushes with power outlets in them for the folks to recharge their cell phones people will be right back out there! ;)


[quote]signals75 said: "I'm not sure where you people were, but I work in Lake George. We keep track of the weather everyday, and it has been amazing this summer. Other than May, every Saturday has been sunny and beautiful July and August except for one. Mon - Wed has been messy (my days off), but the weekends have been wonderful. "[/quote]

Some of us work in healthcare, and don't work Monday-Friday jobs. ;o)


Randy that's the nearly identical to what I've heard. Unfortunately we have just enough to pay to live and not enough to move. But isn't that the ny way? If I ever get the chance, I'm going south. The bs politics in ny is for the birds. At this point I would be just as happy to see ny implode.

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