Early returns suggest the 2012 summer season was a busy one for recreational outlets operated by the state in Western New York, the Niagara Gazette reported.

During Monday’s (Oct. 15) meeting of the board of commissioners for the state parks western region, officials reported increases in attendance at area state parks, campgrounds and the golf course at Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island.

While the specific numbers are still being confirmed as part of the preparation of a final report, state parks deputy general manager Ron Peters said the initial figures show “across the board” increases, including what’s expected to be about a 3% jump in revenue and attendance at Niagara Falls State Park.

“We had an outstanding summer,” said Mark Thomas, director for the state parks Western Region.

Peters told commissioners the initial attendance numbers show increases of 7% in both visitation to the Cave of the Winds and use of the Niagara Scenic Trolley system. He said all three area campgrounds operated by the state in Western New York – Golden Hill near Albion, Four-Mile Creek in Youngstown and Evangola in Irving – were at or near 100% capacity most weekends this summer. He also reported what was described as an “uptick” in use of the Beaver Island golf course.

“It’s very, very good news,” Peters said.

State parks also experienced what marketing and media specialist Angela Berti described as a “banner year” in terms of Niagara Discovery Pass sales. The pass allows visitors to take in the Cave of the Winds, Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, Aquarium of Niagara, Niagara Adventure Theater and ride the Maid of the Mist for one price. Officials said state parks sold 160,000 Niagara Discovery Passes this year, which Peters said represents an increase in sales of about 15% from 2011.

Berti said more encouraging for state parks was the increase in online sales of the passes, which came in at a “record” high 32,000 in 2012.

Berti said western region state parks recently received word from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office that there will be no need to increase the cost of Niagara Discovery passes next year so they will remain $33 for adults and $26 for youth in 2013.

“People are buying a pass that more or less requires them to stay longer and that benefits the community,” Berti said.