North Carolina’s State Parks set an attendance record in 2015, welcoming 17.3 million visitors to the state’s 41 parks and recreational areas, an increase of 1.7 million from 2014.
The attendance figure is expected to grow again in 2016, when the state’s park system celebrates a centennial of providing history, outdoor recreation and education to visitors.
In March 1915, after a group of citizens urged the government to protect the Summit of Mount Mitchell (the highest peak in the eastern U.S. at 6,684 feet above Yancey County) the N.C. General Assembly authorized Mount Mitchell as the first North Carolina State Park. With the property acquired by the state in 1916, the first state parks system in the nation began.
This year, North Carolina celebrates 100 years of state parks growth, from 525 acres on Mount Mitchell to more than 228,000 acres across the state today. Visitors travel through the gates of these parks to learn more about an area’s bio-diversity, history and culture, escape into wilderness, grab a picnic under a tree, paddle the waterways, hike various levels of trails, follow the footprints of critters and breathe in the smells of the surrounding flora.
Mt. Mitchell will be hosting a signature event August 27th
You can learn more about North Carolina’s State Parks Centennial Celebration by visiting this article from the April 2016 issue of Carolina Country