A new National Park Service report shows 14,409,742 visitors to national parks in Utah spent almost $1.6 billion in the state in 2016. That record visitation and spending supported 17,914 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $1,597,500,000. The results represent a whopping 25.5 percent increase in visitor spending and 21.2 percent rise in visitation over 2015. 

“From Arches to Zion, the 13 national park units of Utah attract visitors from within the state, across the country and around the world,” said NPS Intermountain Region Director Sue Masica. “Whether they are out for a weekend, a school field trip, or a month-long vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending some money along the way. This new report also shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the Park Service – and a big factor in Utah’s economy. That’s a result we can all support.” 

The most visited national parks in Utah in 2016 included five with more than 1 million visitors each: Zion National Park (4,295,147), Glen Canyon National Recreation Area (3,239,525), and Bryce Canyon (2,365,111), Arches (1,585,719), and Capitol Reef (1,064,904) National Parks. Utah’s eight other NPS units include Canyonlands National Park; Cedar Breaks, Dinosaur, Hovenweep, Natural Bridges, Rainbow Bridge and Timpanogos Cave National Monuments and Golden Spike National Historic Site. 

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally, with 271,544 of the jobs in those park gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion. 

According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending, by percentage, was for lodging (31.2 percent), followed by food and beverages (27.2), gas and oil (11.7), admissions and fees (10.2), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7), local transportation (7.4), and camping fees (2.5).

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm. This report includes information for visitor spending by park and by state. 

To learn more about national parks in Utah and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/states/ut.