PROMO Outdoors - Fishing Fisherman Aspen Maroon Bells Mountains Water Trees - iStock - Matt Dirksen

Colorado's outdoor recreation accounts for 2.8 percent of state's GDP

A fly fisherman makes a cast at sunset in the Maroon Bells wilderness near Aspen, Colorado. © iStock - Matt Dirksen
Joe Mueller

(The Center Square) – Colorado’s outdoor recreation economy accounted for 2.8 percent of the state’s gross domestic product, according to statistics from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Colorado had $13.9 billion in total outdoor recreation value added last year, according to the report. The industry employed 129,773 people, or 4.3 percent of the state’s employment. Colorado’s total outdoor recreation compensation was $6.9 billion.

The research broke down Colorado’s outdoor industry into specific activities for 2022:

  • conventional outdoor recreation activities, $4.8 billion;
  • boating and fishing, $546 million;
  • recreational vehicle traveling, $743 million;
  • snow activities, $1.4 billion;
  • other outdoor recreation activities, $2.3 billion;
  • amusement and water parks, $216 million;
  • festivals, sporting events and concerts, $362 million;
  • games, including golf and tennis, $499 million;
  • all other supporting outdoor recreation, $6.1 billion;
  • government expenditures, $594 million.

Colorado’s snow activities were the largest in the nation, followed by California ($688 million) and Utah ($601 million). Snow activities totaled $7 billion nationally.

Hawaii’s outdoor recreation economy accounted for 5.6 percent of its GDP, the highest of the 50 states. It was followed by Vermont (4.6%), Montana (4.3%), Wyoming (4.1%), Maine (3.9%) and Florida (3.6%). The state with the lowest percentage was Connecticut at 1.4 percent and the District of Columbia was 0.9 percent of GDP.

Nationally, the outdoor recreation industry accounted for 2.2 percent of GDP or $563.7 billion in 2022. All 50 states had increases in outdoor recreation employment in 2022, ranging from 18.5 percent in Hawaii to 1.1 percent in Kansas. Colorado’s outdoor recreation employment grew 9.2 percent.

“Inflation-adjusted ('real') GDP for the outdoor recreation economy increased 4.8 percent in 2022, compared with a 1.9 percent increase for the overall U.S. economy, reflecting a deceleration from the increase in outdoor recreation of 22.7 percent in 2021,” the report stated. “Real gross output for the outdoor recreation economy increased 7.5 percent, while outdoor recreation compensation increased 9.1 percent and employment increased 7.4 percent.”