2016 State of the Park
Another year has passed and I would like to thank everyone who visited Lake James State Park in 2016. Our centennial year was a huge success, thanks in large part to the hikers, mountain bikers, swimmers and fishermen that love the park and take advantage of the many outdoor recreational opportunities it provides. Without you folks there wouldn’t be any incentive to protect and preserve the great outdoors in our little corner of McDowell and Burke counties. Your attendance and participation, day-in and day-out, proves how important Lake James State Park is to the fabric of this community. The staff here takes great pride in that relationship and looks forward to forging even stronger bonds with our neighbors, one-time users and park “regulars” in the year to come. A large part of our success in 2016 was due to the many special events we hosted. People from near and far have discovered, and rediscovered, how wonderful Lake James State Park truly is. From returning events like the Lake James Clean-up held each spring, to new events like the Dragon Boat Festival, Lake James continues to prove its up and-coming status as a major attraction. These events drew in more than 3,500 visitors last year and we already have several new events booked for 2017.
I would be remiss to neglect the wonderful seasonal staff we’ve been so fortunate to hire in recent years. From general utilities workers, to concessions stand cashiers, to lifeguards to naturalists; these are the folks who keep this park operating at a high level during the heavy visitation months of summer. Without them, the park would be overwhelmed on weekends, holidays, and when hosting large events. Looking forward, 2017 will be a year of planning and maintenance. We now have more facilities to maintain, with a total of 83 campsites, and we have a laundry list of major maintenance improvements throughout the park, to include a new entrance sign at the Catawba River Area and new decking on our overlooks and fishing pier, just to name a few. We will spend much of the year planning the design of our new Visitor Center and we will finish up the design of a 238-foot bridge that will connect the Paddy’s Creek and Long Arm peninsulas. We spent the last year celebrating the North Carolina State Parks Centennial, and this year the celebration will continue with the 30th Birthday of Lake James State Park.
With your continuing support and involvement and the help of citizens’ groups like the Friends of Lake James State Park, the future is bright. I look forward to seeing you and your families enjoying the great outdoors.
Nora Coffey Park Superintendent Lake James State Park