WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW) -- National Park Week is a celebration recognized in Wisconsin for national parks, state forests, trails and other natural areas.
According to Wisconsin DNR Recreation Partnership Section Chief Missy VanLanduyt, the Badger State is home to more than a couple million acres of outdoor recreation opportunities.
There are 49 state parks in Wisconsin, and VanLanduyt says visitation was up 22% in 2020, in comparison to previous years.
According to DNR data, so far this year, through March, visitation is up to 25% more than last year. Numbers are expecting to continue rising throughout the year.
21.5 million people went to parks, trails and forests for recreation in 2020, and the data show that the outdoors have, and continue to serve, as a vital option during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
"Not only that physical wellness, but that mental health wellness as well," VanLanduyt said. "Getting out and just embracing the outdoors, getting that solitude and that silence, finding that space outside and also that social wellness too."
VanLanduyt encourages people to dress accordingly to enjoy the parks year round, not just during the warmer months and not just confined to National Park Week itself.
Starting April 30, several changes will go into effect as it pertains to the parks.
Changes will include the following:
- Observation towers and playgrounds will reopen.
- Volunteer group sizes will be increased to 50 people.
- Capacity for open-air shelters, amphitheaters, and outdoor group campgrounds will be increased to 100 people.
- Non-department led special event capacity will increase from 50 to 100 (special event permit applicants may work with property staff to phase larger events with capacities over 100).
- Stand-alone concession facilities will open to the public at 50% capacity, including staff.
The following amenities will continue to be available to visitors:
- Family camping (100% reservable with auto check-in).
- Outdoor group camping, maximum capacity of 100 people (100% reservable with auto check-in).
- Bathroom and RV dump station facilities.
- Accessible cabins.
- Drive-up window service.
- Concessions, including firewood sales.