Visitor spending in Wyoming's national parks down $65 million last year

PROMO 64J1 States - Wyoming Welcome Sign - iStock - Ingo Dorenberg
Published Saturday, June 12, 2021
by Robert Davis | The Center Square contributor

(The Center Square) - Wyoming's national park sites saw a $65 million decline in visitor spending last year, according to data released Thursday by the National Park Service (NPS).

The agency's annual report found that NPS-managed lands in Wyoming welcomed over 7 million visitors who spent $859 million on things like lodging and recreational activities.

Visitors spent $924 million in 2019, according to NPS data.

Data for Colorado showed a similar drop for the state, with visitor spending falling from $515 million in 2019 to $392 million last year in "gateway" areas near NPS lands.

Lodging accounted for nearly 37% of tourism spending while restaurants and retail accounted for 18% and 10%, respectively.

Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks were the most visited parks, attracting over $1 billion in visitor spending. Both parks straddle Wyoming's borders with Montana and Idaho, so those states also benefit economically from the parks.

Devil's Tower National Monument attracted $27.9 million in visitor spending and generated $35.7 million in economic output.

Even with the significant decline in visitation, Wyoming moved up two spots in the state-by-state rankings based on revenue. The state ranked fifth, just ahead of Arizona and Tennessee, but just $20 million behind Utah.

Nationwide, NPS said park visits reached a 40-year low as visits dipped by 28%. The nation's 389 locations generated an economic impact of over $28.6 billion in 2020, and supported 234,000 jobs, $9.7 billion in labor income, and $16.7 billion in value added to the nation's economy.

In 2019, NPS brought in over $41 billion in economic impact and grew its presence in the U.S. economy by over $1.6 billion when compared to 2018.

"The decrease is attributed largely to temporary park closures and restrictions implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic," the report said.

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