Maryland considering reservation system to manage park visitor boom

During the height of the pandemic, Maryland’s state parks enjoyed a boom in visitors.

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And now – with so many people visiting – the Maryland Department of Natural Resources is considering implementing some sort of reservation system.

Last year DNR police had to close several state parks, including Sandy Point State Park, and turn people away because parks kept reaching capacity at unprecedented levels.

Sandy Point State Park closed down due to full capacity 23 times in 2020, compared to just five times in 2019, according to Maryland DNR.

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Another popular spot, Patapsco Valley, closed 55 times last year compared to 30 times in 2019. The agency said Calvert Cliffs closed 53 times due to full to capacity in 2020. I’m 2019, the agency said that only happened once!

Maryland State Parks saw a 45% jump in state park visits all across the board. Now that so many people have a newfound love for nature, Maryland park officials say 2021 is on track to meet or exceed the last year’s visitation numbers, hence the talk of reservations.

Right now, we’re told the agency has no specific plans or mechanisms in place to move forward at this point.  But it is something they are considering in the long term.

According to data from the department of natural resources, certain parks say much bigger spikes than others. Gambrill, for example. saw a massive 230.6% visitation spike from 2019 to 2020. Calvert Cliffs had a 147.5% surge.

They’re also asking with more people visiting, please make sure you clean up after yourselves to help keep these parks places people (and of course the wildlife) can enjoy.

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The top four state parks visited last year were: Patapsco Valley, Gunpowder Falls, Assateague and Sandy Point.