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Millions of people come to Starved Rock State Park, but the first million to arrive this year came faster than ever. Starved Rock hit 1 million visitors in June, a feat never reported in the park’s history. A mild winter and record attendance in March and June have the park poised to top last year’s record total.
Starved Rock State Park appears headed for another year of record attendance, having already drawn 1 million visitors through the end of June.
The park office reported 238,288 people visited Starved Rock last month, breaking a year-old June record by nearly 6 percent. The June total is now the second monthly record to fall this year. In March, the park welcomed 186,318, shattering a five-year-old mark by 29 percent.
Coupled with excellent attendance in winter and spring, Starved Rock has now reached an unprecedented milestone: A million visitors in the first six months of the year. Attendance stood at 1,036,064 at the end of June, the fastest the park has ever drawn a million visitors.
“The Rock has arrived,” said Joe Hook, managing general partner at Grand Bear Lodge in Utica. “I think this is great news not only for us but the entire area. And if the area could get additional attractions we could do even better in the future.”
If the trend holds, Starved Rock should crest 2 million visitors for the fourth consecutive year and perhaps break last year’s 2,181,083 visitors, an all-time high.
“Our marketing efforts have paid off,” said Terry Cross, president of Starved Rock Lodge. “We believe tourism is great when you have history, woods and water. We’ve got all three and we flaunt the hell out of them.
“I think, too, people are looking to experience nature,” he said, “and I think what’s happened in the past is people have lost sight of how great the park is.” Attendance has surged at Starved Rock in recent years, a trend attributed in part to a tough economy that has Illinois families vacationing closer to home.
Eleven monthly records have fallen over the past eight years and the park came close this year to topping the record for May (244,606 visitors) set in 1982.
Good weather seems to have given the 2012 totals a boost. A mild winter helped Starved Rock post back-to-back marks of 100,000 visitors in January and February — a feat accomplished only twice before — and then post a banner March followed by near-record totals in April and May.
The strong spring figures came as a bit of a surprise considering Route 178 was under heavy construction in downtown Utica and at the Interstate 80 interchange. The June record was less of a surprise, as the realignment of Route 178 drew to a close amid unseasonably cool temperatures.
Posted: Sunday, July 15, 2012
Article comment by:
The awakening to the beauty, nourishment, and deep connection we have to Mother Nature is occuring. Those who support the clean maintained environment are showing up! Thank you, earth, water, air, animals and plants, for without you we are living in an illusion of man alone.
Posted: Saturday, July 14, 2012
Article comment by:
How do they keep track the amount of visitors?
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