The Gordons Pond Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park. (Courtesy of DNREC)

Del. State Parks set attendance record: 8 million-plus

Ken MammarellaCulture, Headlines

The Gordons Pond Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park. (Courtesy of DNREC)

The Gordons Pond Trail at Cape Henlopen State Park. (Courtesy of DNREC)

Delaware State Parks set another attendance record in 2022, with more than 8 million visitors.

Attendance at the 17 Delaware state parks has increased each year since 2015. In the past five years, visitation is up 37%.

The most visited state park in 2022 was Cape Henlopen, with 1.9 million visitors.

Alapocas Run, Auburn Valley, Brandywine Zoo, Fort Delaware and Killens Pond state parks and the First State Heritage Park all saw visitation increase more than 10% in 2022.

The Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, which runs the parks, used the announcement to pitch open jobs and push earlier reservations.

“Such voluminous visitation year-to-year calls for more staff working both at the parks and in administration,” DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin said. “There currently is a range of job openings we look to fill as DNREC and the Division of Parks and Recreation work to meet demands from the rising growth.”

Job postings can be found at

And the division encouraged people to make reservations as early as possible, as prime spaces book faster than pre-COVID-19 visitation levels.

Division programs, volunteer hours and amenities all saw increases in 2022, compared with 2021. These included a 28% increase in school program participants, a 23% increase in volunteer hours, a 12% increase in visitors to Deerfield and Garrisons Lake golf courses (with nearly 60,000 rounds of golf played) and 40,000 visitors for events in 2022.

Other state park systems saw declines in visitation in 2022, DNREC said in making the announcement.

Honors for state parks

The parks system has earned two recent accolades.

In 2022, it was accredited by the National Recreation and Park Association’s Commission for Accreditation of Park and Recreation Agencies. Fewer than 2% – or 199 out of 12,000 parks and recreation agencies in the United States – are CAPRAaccredited.

In 2021, for the second time, it won the National Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management from the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and the National Recreation and Park Association.

“Not only is attendance up, but I am extremely proud of the high marks our division staff receive for customer service, thanks to their dedicated efforts,” Garvin said.

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