Meramec State Park

Meramec State Park in Sullivan was the sixth most visited state park in Missouri in 2017.

The 678,645 visitors last year were a 22 percent gain over the 2016 total of 556,194.

Over the past decade, the park has been in, or near, the top 10 parks in visitors and revenues.

According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the total revenues for 2017 were $1,028,185.

About two-thirds of the park’s revenue was from concessions, which brought in $638,972

In 2017, the park posted a 9 percent increase in camping units with 15,716, which contributed to general operations revenues of $389,213 from fees for camping and other items.

Overall operating expenses for the park last year were $793,098, including employee salaries and benefits of $576,538, leaving total profits at $235,087.

Salaries for park employees totaled $397,141.

Economic Impact

In addition to attendance and revenues increasing in the state park last year, the overall economic impact of the park has been positive in the Sullivan and surrounding areas as well.

According to the most recent DNR report released in 2012, 17.4 million people visited Missouri state parks and spent $777,624,444 statewide in 2011.

That year, 476,459 people visited Meramec State Park, making it No. 12 overall.

The report estimates each visitor spent $43 per day either in the park or in the surrounding areas, creating a total economic impact of more than $20.4 million in the region.

Applying the same per day expenditures ($43) with the 2017 visitors balloons the economic impact on the region to more than $29 million for 2017.


Since 2000, more than 9.6 million people have visited Meramec State Park, averaging 535,899 per year.

The highest attendance years were 2001 and 2002 with just under 720,000 visitors each of those years.

In 2003, attendance dropped by 17 percent and stayed near the 600,000 mark until a 17 percent uptick in 2007 to 646,000.

The increases did not hold and the park saw its highest decrease in the last 18 years, dropping 23 percent in 2008 to under 500,000, where it remained the next several years.

The lowest attendance year since 2000 was in 2009 when only 464,022 people went to the park.

The year 2015 saw a dramatic 31 percent increase, bringing visitors back up to 644,000, that again dropped by 100,000 in 2016 before the 22 percent increase last year.

Other Parks

Lake of the Ozarks was the most visited Missouri state park in 2017, drawing more than 2.5 million visitors.

Other top 10 parks for attendance included:

• Table Rock State Park — 1,296,257;

• Sam A. Baker State Park — 1,022,467;

• Bennett Spring State Park — 732,094;

• Castlewood State Park — 714,798;

• St. Joe State Park — 669,861;

• Roaring River State Park — 627,524;

• Mastodon State Park — 567,233;

• Ha Ha Tonka State Park — 553,018; and

Dr. Edmund Babler State Park in Wildwood came in 11th on the list with 549,871 last year.