Jockey’s Ridge is busiest state park at 1.8M visitors

By on January 26, 2022

(North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources)

(Jockey’s Ridge State Park / Photo credit: Spencer Bost)

In a year of booming tourism at North Carolina’s 41 state parks and recreation areas, Jockey’s Ridge State Park in Nags Head was the top attraction, according to a Jan. 25 release from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources (NCDR).

In total, the 41 sites attracted 22.8 million visitors in 2021, which exceeded the previous record of 19.8 million a year earlier – even with many parks closed temporarily in 2020 because of the COVID pandemic.

According to the NCDR, 28 of the 41 cites reported increases in visitation in 2021, with Jockey’s Ridge claiming the highest visitation with 1.8 million visitors.

Nine other state parks reported more than 1 million visitors including Carolina Beach, Eno River, Fort Macon, Pilot Mountain, and William B. Umstead state parks, and Falls Lake, Fort Fisher, Jordan Lake, and Kerr Lake state recreation areas.

“North Carolinians in 2021 showed us how much they value state parks and trails to enhance their physical and mental health,” Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson a statement. “Fortunately, the new state budget invests heavily in new state and local parks, trails, and greenways to meet growing public demand.”

The 2021-22 state budget allocated an additional $91 million for state and local parks and trails and beach access, plus $29 million for state trails projects. The Division of Parks and Recreation will also receive 30 new permanent field positions, $10 million to create park facilities for veterans and those with disabilities, and $40 million in water and sewer upgrades.





County Dare, North Carolina
Dare County Tourism Board

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN that the Visitors Bureau will hold a public meeting to review the plans for an Outer Banks Event Center. The meeting will take place on Monday, June 6, 2022 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. at the Keeper’s Galley building at Haven on the Banks, 115 Dove Street, Nags Head North Carolina 27959.

Still in the conceptual phase, the Event Center is intended to provide suitable and flexible space for year-round events, concerts, sports, meetings, smaller tradeshows, galas and any number of other uses. Learn more about the benefits for visitors and residents and how the Event Center is planned to complement the new Soundside boardwalk that is being designed.

Staff will be on hand to answer any questions. For additional information, please visit our Event Center FAQ page.


See what people are saying:

  • Travis

    Jockey’s Ridge would not be what it is today were it not for the bravery of one woman against the bulldozers and a slew of like minded people who fought to preserve it.

    Development is not always good. Growth needs to be leavened with green (or sand in our case) spaces in mind. Not every square inch of the Outer Banks needs a house on it.

    Wednesday, Jan 26 @ 1:32 pm