Visitor counts are from the 2007 and 2006 editions of the Annual Information Exchange, which is produced by the National Association of State Park Directors (NASPD), in cooperation with North Carolina State University. Both day and overnight visits are tabulated in the report.

The number of state park and recreation areas also grew in recent years. For 2005-2006, the number of park and recreation areas reached 4,962, which is 80 more than reported in 2004-2005.

The NASPD defines park and recreation areas to include historic sites, environmental education areas, scientific areas, forests, fish and wildlife preserves and natural and miscellaneous areas.

Operating expenses on the rise

In recent years, state parks have seen their operating expenses rise. Total operating expenses in 2005-2006 reached almost $2.2 billion, an increase of about $349 million over the $1.8 billion in operating expenditures for 2004-2005.

The Annual Information Exchange offers state-by-state data for a variety of other topics, including capital expenditures, parks' share of state expenditures, user fees, revenue sources and personnel.

To download the NASPD's Annual Information Exchange, click here.