A sign marks the entrance of Centennial Park and Campground on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

A sign marks the entrance of Centennial Park and Campground on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Soldotna campgrounds see record use

There were more than 11,100 day uses of campgrounds — the most ever.

2021 was a record year for Soldotna’s campgrounds. That’s according to seasonal data prepared by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department for the Soldotna City Council’s Wednesday meeting.

Those data show that total revenue among all of Soldotna’s campgrounds — nearly $500,000 — was higher in 2021 than in 2020, 2019, 2018 and 2017. The bulk of that revenue — about $355,000 — came from Centennial Park and Campgrounds, which has 176 designated campsites.

Soldotna parks include two campgrounds — Centennial Park and Campground and Swiftwater Park and Campground. That’s in addition to parks that do not offer camping opportunities, such as Soldotna Creek Park and 3 Friends Dog Park, as well as the Community Memorial Park, which serves as the city’s cemetery.

There were more than 11,100 day uses of campgrounds — the most ever, Soldotna Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael wrote in a Nov. 1 memo to Soldotna City Manager Stephanie Queen. That doesn’t include 759 people who bought day-use passes for the season.

Soldotna recorded more than 13,500 camp nights hosted over the summer, which Carmichael said is the first time the city has ever surpassed 13,000 camp nights and “is likely the most ever in one summer.”

“The abundance and late push of the reds had a great return for people, visitors and especially the area businesses,” Carmichael wrote.

Carmichael said the city often uses data from Rotary Park to determine what impact the sockeye salmon run had on overall camping revenue, because he estimates that 99% of Rotary’s revenue and use comes from people sockeye fishing. Rotary revenue was about $26,700 this year, compared to about $16,000 in 2020, Carmichael wrote.

Soldotna Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Shanon Davis spoke to Soldotna’s successful summer during a quarterly report delivered to the city council last month. She said many of Soldotna’s summer tourists came from Anchorage, where the chamber concentrated marketing efforts, and that use of city campgrounds was consistent throughout the summer, as opposed to being focused in July.

“An interesting note is that it wasn’t our highest year for peak season in July,” Davis told the council. “The additional camp nights came from June, August and September, which is what we really love to see.”

More information about Soldotna’s campgrounds can be found on the city’s website at soldotna.org/departments/parks-and-recreation.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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