By Taylor Boyd
Fairy Stone State Park recorded its highest revenue year to date in 2021.
Park Manager Adam Layman estimated the park experienced a 30 percent increase in revenue because it was much busier than normal.
“We’re still working through a lot of the impacts of the pandemic. There’s still not a lot of places that are back to full speed or open like they were previously, but our state parks remain open, and people are coming out and coming out in record numbers,” he said.
Layman said the increase in visitors was because the park offers the ability to get away from daily life and its stresses, and to be outside in nature with friends and family.
“People want to come out and be outside,” he said, adding that many take advantage of the park’s hiking trails, beach, lake, and other outside activities.
A plan to become one of Virginia’s stargazing Dark Sky Parks also is currently in the works.
“We are working on some more plans towards getting the Dark Sky designation, but we’re still waiting it out,” he said of the park’s quest to become an IDA International Dark Sky Park (IDSP).
The program is a land possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment. The land may be publicly owned, or privately owned provided that the landowner(s) consent to the right of permanent, ongoing public access to specific areas included in the IDA designation, according to online information.
The Natural Bridge State Park in Rockbridge County and Sky Meadows State Park in Fauquier County, as well as James River Park and Staunton River Park are among the Dark Sky Parks in Virginia. There are several parks in other states to have earned the distinction, according to online information, as well as parks in Spain, Ireland, Austria and England.
Layman said the park also started its cabin renovation project the last week of 2021.
“Over the next two years, all of our cabins will be renovated and restored. Of course, we are keeping the original charm of the log cabins, but updating to some more modern affinities in the cabins as well as making some pretty big changes as far as updating electrical and plumbing and renovating kitchens and bathrooms,” he said.
The park plans to do 14 cabins this year and the remaining 11 cabins next year.
Layman said the project will affect the number of cabins available for rental over the next two seasons. “We’re going to have some really nice changes and the cabins will be really nice once this project is completed,” he said.
Layman said the park is also preparing for its summer season and is seeking to hire seasonal employees. “Anybody who is interested in coming out and working in the park for the summer, and being able to work out in the great outdoors in a beautiful setting – we’d love to have you,” he said.
Summer job openings at Fairy Stone will be available on the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) website at www.dcr.virginia.gov/state-parks/fairy-stone, in local newspapers, and employment websites.