06/14/17 — State parks see boost in visits

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State parks see boost in visits

By Steve Herring
Published in News on June 14, 2017 7:00 AM

SEVEN SPRINGS -- An estimated 195,000 to 215,000 people visit the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park annually -- an increase from just three years ago.

Parks across the state are experiencing the same increase, especially in destination parks like Fort Macon on the coast and Grandfather Mountain.

Because of that increase the Division of Parks and Recreation is asking visitors to follow tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable outdoor experience over the summer weekends and holidays.

Ed Wilkerson, superintendent of the Cliffs of the Neuse State Park, agrees that knowing the rules can make the trip more enjoyable for everyone.

The Cliffs of the Neuse offers camping, swimming, hiking and picnicking, and parking is not normally an issue, he said.

Currently, the park is adding a new trail that is expected to be ready within two years. It also is adding power and water and gray water disposal to 13 camping sites. Three new cabins are being built in the area, too.

In some parks, such as Fort Macon, rangers have to spent much time just directing traffic, Wilkerson said.

Visitors need to be prepared for parking issues, he said. Also, they need to remember that state laws are still enforced on park property.

State parks staff encourage those planning a visit to review park rules to minimize inconvenience and maximize enjoyment.

They offer the following suggestions when visiting swim beaches or day use areas:

* Carpool with friends and family whenever possible. This will help alleviate overflowing parking areas where available spaces are limited.

* Arrive with all the essential items that you need for your visit. Once you park, it will be difficult to leave the park for supplies without losing your parking space. Re-entry to the park is not guaranteed.

* Arrive early (before 10 a.m.) or later in the day (after 4 p.m.) to avoid traffic and parking closures due to full lots.

* Do not slow down, stop, or park on park roads or near park entrances. Rangers must keep traffic flowing to prevent accidents.

* Be patient -- park rangers appreciate your cooperation while working to keep you and your family safe.

* Watch your children at all times to ensure they are in safe areas and follow all park rules.

* As a reminder, alcoholic beverages are not permitted on North Carolina State Park properties. This includes beaches and picnic areas.

To view the rules visit www.ncparks.gov/park-rules.