KALAMAZOO, Mich. — State parks and campgrounds were at high capacity rates over the Fourth of July weekend with local visitors and even people traveling from other states.
The Michigan DNR said it saw a high record of people enjoying the state parks for the holiday weekend, and the organization said it believes this trend will likely continue through the summer.
"This year, even early, we had many parks reporting that people were coming out and doing things outdoors that they would experience typically a month later when the weather got better," said Michigan Department of Natural Resources Chief of Parks and Recreation Ron Olson.
It was no surprise to the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) that campgrounds almost hit full capacity even before the weekend began.
That's because state parks saw around 95% capacity during Memorial Day weekend, higher than it has been for years.
"Last year we saw even with the COVID situation, once we got going on June 22, the camping numbers went up 25% plus and plus visitation went way up but dropped the year prior to that," said Olson.
State parks and campgrounds were over 96% occupied for the Fourth of July holiday weekend, according to the Michigan DNR.— Lauren Kummer (@LaurenKummerTV) July 5, 2021
At Fort Custer Recreation Area, the park & recreation manager says they were at full capacity and had to turn people away. @FOX17 pic.twitter.com/IPHrQGDf3L
This past weekend, state parks were nearly 96% occupied and lines formed at many entrances with visitors waiting to get in.
"We had a very, very busy weekend. We had many reports from the parks that it was busy with not only campers and lodgers but day-use people coming out and doing things," said Olson.
While it was a holiday weekend, Olson said he is expecting to continue to see higher than normal numbers during the rest of the summer as well.
"Clearly people are valuing the state parks plus the resources we have to offer as opportunities to get out and do stuff," said Olson.
The DNR said it is important to make sure to clean up after yourself to help keep the parks clean and always leave campsites in the same, if not better condition than when you arrived.
Earlier this year, the Michigan DNR experienced a worker shortage. Olson said out of the 1,300 to 1,400 seasonal and part-time jobs available, they were able to fill 90% of those.