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Rock Island sees increase in visitors
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Rock Island State Park records show 679,525 visitors for fiscal year 2021, an increase of 180,000 from the year before.

You could say Tennessee state parks offer a wealth of beauty.

Increased visitors are leading to a greater economic impact for the communities which are blessed to have a state park. This includes Rock Island.

For fiscal year 2021, Tennessee’s 56 state parks had 38.5 million visits, a nearly 4 million increase from the previous year, according to information released by the state.

At Rock Island, state park records show 679,525 visitors for fiscal year 2021, a whopping increase of 180,000 from the year before.

“That number is likely in reality much higher due to several areas of the park we are not able to capture,” said Rock Island park manager Damon Graham. “We think it could have been as high as 750,000 to 800,000 for fiscal year 2021.”

Visitors generate spending. State parks had a combined economic impact of $2.1 billion, according to the state, a figure that includes lodging, shopping and recreation spending in relation to the state park visit. That’s up $300 million from the year before.

“We saw an increase in visitors to our state parks when the pandemic hit, and these figures show the parks continue to be a strong source of enjoyment and an economic lift for communities,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Deputy Commissioner Jim Bryson.

With the first official day of spring this coming Sunday, March 20, state park officials are preparing for crowds to return.

“Many parks, including Rock Island, are expecting overcrowding again this spring and summer,” said Graham. “There may be times we are at capacity and cannot allow in more cars or visitors. We are also seeing more severe impacts on our natural resources due to overcrowding. We suggest avoiding peak days if possible.”