News Release 135

Attendance continues to increase at Missouri state parks

Volume 39-135 (For Immediate Release)
For more information: 573-751-1010

JEFFERSON CITY, MO, MAY 2, 2011 – More and more people are discovering the joys of visiting Missouri state parks and historic sites and it shows in the attendance numbers. In 2010, more than 16.3 million people visited Missouri’s 85 state parks and historic sites, and this reflects an almost 10 percent increase in attendance in the last two years.

"Missouri state parks are no longer the state’s best kept secret. More people are discovering the benefits and fun you and your family can have by visiting a state park or historic site," said Governor Jay Nixon.

“The department works to preserve and interpret the state's most outstanding natural landscapes and cultural landmarks and to provide outstanding recreational opportunities to the citizens of Missouri," said Sara Parker Pauley, Director of the Department of Natural Resources.

More people also are hearing about the wonders of the state park system through our programs and visitors. The number of interpretive contacts in 2010 was 1,891,723 compared with 1,576,616 in 2009. These figures represent the number of visitors who attended interpretive programs and tours in parks and sites, visited the museums and visitor centers to view exhibits, and used self-guiding interpretive trails.

"Missouri’s state park system offers visitors a great way to connect with nature, to explore the past and experience healthy and enjoyable recreation," said Bill Bryan, Missouri State Parks director. "You can have fun and adventure close to home without spending a lot of money. Our professional interpreters are very dedicated and they do an amazing job of presenting this information to the public. In 2010, we also benefited from the seasonal interpreters provided through the State Parks Youth Corps," said Bryan.

The State Park Youth Corps, a program initiated by Gov. Jay Nixon, provided jobs to more than 1,000 youths to enhance Missouri state parks and historic sites. Their jobs ranged from routine maintenance and construction work to social media efforts and interpretation. This program has proven so successful that it has been extended through 2011 and will offer jobs to approximately 600 youths ages 17-21 from April 1 through Nov. 30.

The overall effort has proven successful with the visitors who gave the state park system a 97 percent overall satisfaction rating in 2010. This rating is determined by guest comment cards that ask customers to rate a variety of areas and provide input on services they receive.

"The Missouri state park system is one of the best in the nation. Our goal is to do more than just maintain that standard; we intend to improve the way we do things, especially our customer service," said Bryan. The department is also working to improve the way its measures how the state park system is doing, including the most accurate way to compile comprehensive attendance data.

For information on Missouri state parks and historic sites, visit