Beachgoers enjoy a warm day at the Lily Bay State Park beach. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

Maine state parks attendance topped 3 million visits in 2020, according to year-end statistics compiled by the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. It was a record-breaking year for both camping and day use visits.

“Everyone wants and needs to get outside, and Maine state parks are some of the best destinations to relax and reinvigorate,” said Andy Cutko, director of the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands. “In particular, with various travel limitations in place, it was great to see so many Maine families discovering our state parks for the first time.”

Despite pandemic-related spring closures and season-long capacity limitations, a total of 3,067,112 people visited Maine state parks in 2020. Of those, 2,786,750 were day-use visits (up 74,532 or about 3 percent from 2019) and 280,362 were camping visits (up 21,871 or 8 percent from 2019).

“Our biggest concern going into 2020’s peak season in our state parks was the risk of COVID-19 exposure for our staff and our visitors,” said Amanda Beal, commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “Fortunately, because of our team’s preparedness and professionalism, we made strategic designs, and we stayed healthy while creating safe experiences for the more than 3 million people who came to visit. It is quite an achievement, and one we intend to repeat in 2021.”

“The whole [Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands] team and I extend a huge and warm thank you to everybody who arrived at the parks prepared with face coverings and hand sanitizer and all the other requisite supplies for getting outside safely during the pandemic,” Cutko said. 

The camping reservation call center for Maine state parks opens Monday, Feb. 1 for the 2021 season, though only certain sites can be reserved that day. Starting at 9 a.m., group campsites and shelters can be reserved at all parks by phone, and camping can also be reserved at Sebago Lake State Park by phone or online. Reservations for all other Maine state park campgrounds opens Friday, Feb. 5, at 9 a.m. by phone or online. The phone number to reserve a campsite at Maine state park campgrounds is 800-332-1501 (from a Maine area code) or 207-624-9950. Seasonal reservation call center hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, excluding holidays.

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Aislinn Sarnacki

Aislinn is a Bangor Daily News reporter for the Outdoors pages, focusing on outdoor recreation and Maine wildlife. Visit her main blog at actoutwithaislinn.bangordailynews.com.