According to year-end numbers recently compiled by the South Dakota Department of Game, Fish and Parks, the most-visited state parks gained popularity in 2013.

KOTA Radio reported that the agency said both visitation and camping in the state parks reached all-time highs last year, topping records set in 2012.

The biggest draws were Custer State Park and at Lewis and Clark Recreation Area near Yankton. The two parks also set their own records for the number of visitors, at 1.9 million and 1.2 million, respectively. Both parks are major draws for out-of-state visitors.

Custer and Lewis and Clark comprised nearly 40% of the 7.8 million park visitors statewide. Camping numbers also increased across the state, up 3.2% over 2012.

“A lot of people took to the outdoors in 2013,” said Doug Hofer, director of GFP’s Division of Parks and Recreation. “We saw increases in mid-week and shoulder season use, both in camping and day-use. Plus, it was a great year for fishing, which boosted use especially at the Missouri River parks.”

Hofer said that parks across the state were busy, including South Dakota’s newest park, Good Earth State Park at Blood Run, located near Sioux Falls. Good Earth, which officially became a state park in July, attracted over 20,000 visitors in its first year.

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