The Economy Created By U.S. National Parks

Ryan Flynn | | BrainsBrains
A look across Zion National Park. Credit: Zion National Park

The National Park system in the U.S. has 419 sites across 50 states. The National Parks allow locals and travelers to unprecedented outdoor recreation, views, and life-changing experiences. With some now reopening with strict social distancing requirements, now is the time to think about how crucial these sites are to the local economy.

New changes come to national parks under social distancing.
Reservations are now required to visit Yosemite Valley National Park. Credit: Yosemite National Park

In recent years visitor spending at National Parks has increased. In 2015, visitor economic output added $32 billion to the U.S. economy. In comparison, 2018 saw visitor economic output increased to $40.1 billion. With increases in spending from 2013-2019, the National Park system adds money to the national economy but also supports thousands of local jobs.

Per a National Park report, the $40.1 billion in visitor economic output in 2018 supported 329,000 jobs. Jobs supported were related to lodging, recreation, transportation, and restaurants. While millions of visitors travel to National Parks each year, they also spend money in local towns. These communities rely on the income from National Parks for their livelihood.

Yellowstone National Park is one of the clear examples of how park visitors contribute to the local communities. In 2019, Yellowstone visitors spent $507 million in towns within 60 miles of the park’s borders. Alone this supported roughly 7,000 local jobs.

Yellowstone National Park is crucial to the local economy. Credit: Yellowstone National Park

Everyone has been affected in some way or another by COVID-19. It is easy to forget about these small towns that sometimes sit only feet away from some of the most beautiful places in the United States. They rely on the National Parks for their jobs, recreation, and sense of security. Without the months of business, no doubt have they been suffering like so many others. When you return for your first trip back to these majestic parks, remember about the towns that allow you to visit them. They need us more than ever.


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