FILE - Wyoming State Park

Kayaking on still blue waters at Keyhole State Park, Wyo.

(The Center Square) — Wyoming's state parks system is preparing for a busy summer.

Last year was a record-breaker for the state in terms of visitation, with parking lots overflowing and campsites booking out solid as people sought respite from strict lockdowns in other states.

Gary Schoene, public information office manager for Wyoming State Parks, said park officials don’t know if this year will be quite that busy, but they are expecting plenty of visitors.

“Our numbers reservation-wise are a little bit lower than last year, but not much, which is encouraging since there’s quite a bit more competition for the consumer dollar right now because things are starting to open up a little bit,” he told The Center Square. “So if [Memorial Day Weekend] is any judge, it looks like we should have a fairly decent summer visitor-wise which is encouraging.”

Learning from last year, Schoene said the department converted a few more campsites into first-come-first-serve sites rather than reservation only after feedback from visitors.

“Some people they don’t know until the day before or whatever that they are going to be able to camp so hopefully the first-come-first-served sites help those people in that regard,” he said.

More visitors generate more revenue for the parks which they can then use to make improvements, Schoene pointed out. 

The state parks funding this year was workable, but he said they can always use more money. 

“We can always use more money in terms of maintenance and operations, that type thing,” Schoene said. “There was a bill this last year, House Bill 58, which did allow us to do that with the money we generate with reservations and other user fees so that helps some, but you always feel like you could use some more.”

Schoene said the department is planning to hold as many events as they safely can this year. All facilities will be open this year as the state returns to operations as usual, he said.