N.C. parks set new attendance record
North Carolina's state parks saw a record number of visitors last year, despite destruction wreaked by Hurricane Matthew on the coast and huge wildfires that closed western North Carolina state parks for long stretches in the fall. The N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation said there were 18.8 million park visitors in 2016, which also was the system's 100th anniversary. That attendance figure was nearly 9 percent more than the 17.3 million people who visited in 2015. The Asheville Citizen-Times reports that Mount Mitchell State Park, the first park established in North Carolina, had one of the highest jumps in attendance. It saw its attendance increase 26 percent from the 2015 total. Among 39 state parks and state recreation areas, 31 reported increases in visitation in last year.