Oklahoma State Parks Brace for Busy Spring Break
Editor’s Note: Sheila Stogsdill posted this story on mainstreetok.com.
Employees are preparing for an expected increase in spring break guests at Oklahoma’s 50 state parks.
Kim Moyer, director of communications and government affairs for the state Tourism and Recreation Department, said state parks already are booked at about 65% capacity for weekends in March and 25% for mid-week.
“If the weather holds it is anticipated, the state parks will be full in March,” Moyer said.
Moyer said reservations for cabins and lodges are slightly ahead of last year.
A recently posted story on spring break is one of the top five most-read stories on the tourism department’s website, she said. Spring break in Oklahoma is March 15-19, but the parks also get visitors from states that observe a different week in March.
“Our state parks are a great getaway,” said Hardy Watkins, Tourism and Recreation Department executive director.
This month alone, the tourism department has sent out 1,600 brochures, Watkins said.
“This is telling us people are looking at our parks,” Watkins said. “Last year was strong, but this year is even better.”
Visits to state parks were up last year, which tourism officials said was largely due to the economic downturn.
In 2009, there were 12.4 million park visitors, an increase of 150,000 over the previous year, Moyer said.
“In a tight economy, people are careful how they spend their recreational dollars,” Moyer said. “People will still take vacations; they just take them closer to home.”
Four state parks have lodges and 16 have rental cabins. Most of the parks also have spaces available for tent camping and recreational vehicles.
Moyer said a lot of spring break visitors come from north Texas.
Beavers Bend Resort Park near Broken Bow in southeast Oklahoma is the most popular of the state parks, Moyer said. A lodge and cabins are available for rent inside the park, and outside the state park are many other cabins, including luxury rentals, said Michelle Olsen, desk clerk at Beaver’s Bend.
Some state park lodge rooms and cabins still are available, but the third week in March is filling up quickly, Olsen said.