In this May 2020 file photo, the Umphrey family from Old Town sits around the picnic table at their campsite at Megunticook Campground by the Sea in Rockport.. Credit: Linda Coan O'Kresik / BDN

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 helped ignite a surge of people heading into the Maine outdoors — and that trend continued in 2022.

Maine State Park campgrounds were visited at a record level last year, with more than 319,000 visitor nights recorded at the 12 parks that offer camping.

“The credit for this record-breaking growth goes to every staff member in our Maine State Parks system,” said Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Commissioner Amanda Beal.

The new record for overnight camping coincided with another busy year overall for state parks. More than 3.28 million people spent time at one of the 48 parks and historic sites managed by the Bureau of Public Lands.

That ranks second only to the record 3.3 million visitors, along with more than 315,000 campers, who availed themselves of state parks during 2021.

“Many of us have been interested to see whether the pandemic spike in outdoor activity would be sustained,” said Bureau of Public Lands Director Andy Cutko. “Our 2022 statistics show that Maine people and our visitors continue to love our State Parks.”

Last year’s record camping visits means those planning an outing during 2023 should be prepared to lock in their plans in advance. The state’s campground reservations center opens at 9 a.m. on Feb. 1 to begin taking online and phone reservations for Lily Bay and Sebago Lake state parks.

At 9 a.m. on Feb. 6, the state will begin accepting reservations, on the phone or online, for all 12 of the state park campgrounds.

The online reservations platform can be found at campwithme.com, while the phone numbers are 1-800-332-1501 (within Maine) or 207-624-9950.

Pete Warner

Pete graduated from Bangor High School in 1980 and earned a B.S. in Journalism (Advertising) from the University of Maine in 1986. He grew up fishing at his family's camp on Sebago Lake but didn't take...