Montana State Parks Sees Slight Decrease In Visitation So Far For 2022

Temperate weather with a few cold spells during the first quarter of 2022 contributed to a slight decrease in the number of overall visitors to state parks in Montana.


The state park system recorded 358,230 visitors in the first quarter, a decrease of 8.6 percent from 2021, but an increase of 9.3 percent over the same period of time in 2020 and an increase of 62 percent over 2019.



“We’re grateful for the cooler temperatures and some moisture along with the benefit that has for the habitat and resources at our sites,” said Hope Stockwell, administrator of the Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division at Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. “While that may have contributed to a decrease in visitation this quarter, our numbers remain high compared to historic levels. We appreciate our users continuing to recreate responsibly and practicing ‘Leave No Trace’ principles during their visits.”



The five most visited state parks in first quarter of 2022 were:

  1. Giant Springs State Park, Great Falls – 79,355 visitors

  2. Spring Meadow Lake State Park, Helena – 39,000 visitors

  3. Flathead Lake State Park (all units), Flathead Lake – 28,612 visitors

  4. Cooney Reservoir State Park, Roberts – 25,935 visitors

  5. Lake Elmo State Park, Billings – 18,081 visitors

Visitation snapshot for the first quarter of 2022:


Northwest Montana: Region 1 saw an estimated 71,980 visitors across its eight parks reporting visitation figures during the first quarter of this year, an estimated 13.5 percent decrease in visitation compared with last year.


West Montana: Region 2 saw an estimated 42,836 visitors across its nine parks reporting visitation figures during the first quarter of this year, an estimated 25.3 percent decrease in visitation compared with last year.



Southwest Montana: Region 3 saw an estimated 21,755 visitors across its six parks reporting visitation figures during the first quarter of this year, an estimated 11.3 percent decrease in visitation compared with last year.


North-central Montana: Region 4 saw an estimated 137,367 visitors across its eight parks reporting visitation figures during the first quarter of this year a slight 1.1 percent decrease in visitation compared with last year.


South-central Montana: Region 5 saw an estimated 51,942 visitors across its four parks reporting visitation figures during the first quarter of this year, an 11.1 percent decrease in visitation compared with last year.



Eastern Montana: Regions 6 and 7 saw an estimated 32,350 visitors across their six parks reporting visitation figures during the first quarter of this year, a 9.8 percent increase in visitation compared with last year.


A full list of state parks and their estimated visitation levels can be found in the 2022 report.

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