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County has two of 10 most-visited state parks

Oct 25, 2015 By Eric Blom Staff Writer

Fishing, boating, beaches and camping at Boysen State Park brought in 115,000 visitors last year - enough to be ranked the seventh-busiest state park in Wyoming.

It also was the fifth most expensive to run last year, incurring $512,000 in operating expenses.

At 36,000 acres, Boysen is the largest state park in Wyoming.

Sinks Canyon

The geologic anomaly of the Popo Agie River's disappearance into the ground and subsequent rise a quarter mile away drew 212,000 visitors to Sinks Canyon State Park last year. That number made Sinks the fourth most-visited state park or historic site in Wyoming in 2014.

Sinks Canyon is the third-smallest state park, encompassing only 600 acres. Its operating expenses were $229,000 in 2014, making it the cheapest state park to run. The state spent about a $1.08 for each visitor to Sinks.

South Pass

The historic buildings at Fremont County's state historic site, South Pass City, drew 13,000 visitors, earning it the 23rd spot out of 28 parks and historic sites last year. South Pass had the seventh most visitors counting only the state's 13 historic sites.

South Pass City was the second most costly historic site last year with operating expenses of $430,000.

Data about the state parks and historic sites were presented to legislators at a Sept. 28 meeting of the joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee.

Hot Springs

Nearby Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis saw the most visitors of any state park or historic site. The 1.8 million visits to the hot springs, bath house and bison herd there accounted for nearly half of the 3.9 million visitors to all state parks last year.

National parks

The state parks and historic sites total is more than the total for either of the national parks in Wyoming.

Yellowstone National Park saw 3.5 million visitors, and Grand Teton National Park drew 2.7 million.

Devil's Tower and Fossil Butte national monuments, also in Wyoming, attracted 441,000 and 17,000 visitors respectively in 2014.

Year by year

Visitation increased by 10 percent compared to 2013 at both Sinks Canyon and Boysen state parks. South Pass City saw 18 percent fewer visitors compared to the year before, however.

Overall visitation at Wyoming's parks and historic sites rose by 1 percent.

Johnny Behind the Rocks

Another local recreation hotspot made a top list recently. The Johnny Behind the Rocks Trail System made the Bureau of Land Management and International Mountain Biking Association's 20 best BLM managed mountain-biking opportunities in the country.

The trail southeast of Lander is the only location in Wyoming to make the list. The nod ranks the local trail with some of the most well-known mountain-biking hotspots in the nation, such as in Moab, Utah.

Visitation at Wyoming state parks in 2014

1. Hot Springs State Park - 1.8 million visitors

2. Glendo State Park - 301,000

3. Bear River State Park - 261,000

4. Sinks Canyon State Park 212,000

5. Keyhole State Park - 187,000

6. Curt Gowdy State Park - 150,000

7. Boysen State Park - 115,000

8. Edness Kimball Wilkins State Park - 84,000

9. Guernsey State Park - 78,000

10. Buffalo Bill State Park - 77,000

11. Seminoe State Park - 24,000

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