National parks drove record spending last year

Aug 24, 2023

A new report from the National Park Service found that visitor spending in communities near national parks in 2022 resulted in a record $50.3 billion economic benefit to the nation’s economy and supported 378,400 jobs. Annual appropriations for the National Park Service totaled $3.3 billion in fiscal year 2022, effectively turning a $1 investment in the national park system into a more than $10 boost to the nation’s economy. 

“At the Interior Department, we understand that nature is essential to the health, well-being and prosperity of every family and every community in America. But outdoor recreation is not just good for the soul, it’s a significant driver of our national and local economies and job sustainability,” said Interior Secretary Deb Haaland.

Hotels and restaurants saw the largest share of visitor spending dollars. Visitors also spent heavily on gas, outdoor recreation, and retail. California, Utah, and North Carolina brought in the most visitor money out of the 50 states. In the WestZion and Grand Canyon national parks and Golden Gate National Recreation Area brought in the most spending, with Grand Teton and Rocky Mountain national parks following closely behind. The Great Smoky Mountains brought in the most spending out of all NPS-managed sites, at $2.1 billion.

The power of urban parks

While the national park system drives thriving economies, urban parks help make cities healthier. That’s according to a new report from the Trust for Public Land called the Power of Parks to Promote Health that quantified the health and ecological benefits of urban parks. The Center for Western Priorities spoke to Vice President of Strategy and Engagement at the Trust for Public Land I Ling Thompson about the report on the latest episode of CWP’s podcast, The Landscape.

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Quote of the day

We still have a framework where mining and drilling rights are supreme. And then we’ve layered over these environmental safeguards, which try to guide how we do those activities and minimize the impact. But we’re still operating in a system where mining rights, drilling rights, are the foundation and we’re just addressing the symptoms of that activity.”

—Center for Western Priorities Policy Director Rachael Hamby, Sierra Nevada Ally

Picture This

Yellow-eyed junco on a branch


Yellow-eyed juncos are the much less commonly seen cousins of dark-eyed juncos. In the US, the only place to see these bright-eyed birds is in Arizona’s Sky Islands. Photo: Mick Thompson CC BY-NC 2.0


Feature Image: Visitors to Zion National Park spent $672 million and drove a total economic output of $961 million in 2022, according to the National Park Service; Al_HikesAZ, Flickr