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Report: Tourism in Colorado's national parks brought in $864M in 2021

Rocky Mountain National Park sign
Posted at 1:53 PM, Jun 27, 2022

More than 7.8 million people visited Colorado's national parks and spent more than $560 million in 2021, according to a new National Park Service (NPS) report.

Economists at the NPS and U.S. Geological Survey analyzed the data, which showed that in 2021, Colorado's national parks saw 7,819,153 visitors who spent $560,100,000. This resulted in 7,571 jobs, according to the report.

In total, 2021 brought in an state economic benefit of $864,900,000, NPS said.

Total Economic Output Contributed to the Colorado Economy 2012-2021_National Park Service

Visitors' trip-related spendings supports communities around the national parks and NPS said its annual report helps illustrate the annual economic contributions of these visits.

Of the $560 million spent by visitors in 2021, about 33% was for hotels, 20% was for restaurants, and 13% was for gas.

The $560 million is up from a dip in 2020 due to COVID-19, when visitors spent $392 million, according to NPS.

Colorado national park spending 2012-2021_National Park Service

The NPS said parks around the country saw a jump in recreation visits from 2020 to 2021 "largely due to parks' evolving COVID-19 Pandemic protocols, which allowed more park facilities to be open and available for visitors than in 2020," the report reads. Other factors also affected visitation in 2021, including wildfires in the west and temporary closures along the Gulf Coast and northeast due to hurricanes and flooding.

In total, 297 million park visitors nationwide spent $20.5 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park, the NPS reported. The NPS system covers 423 areas and more than 84 million acres.

These are Colorado's national parks, areas and sites:

  • Amache National Historic Site (designated but not yet established
  • Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site 
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park 
  • California National Historic Trail 
  • Colorado National Monument              
  • Curecanti National Recreation Area    
  • Dinosaur National Monument              
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument     
  • Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve             
  • Hovenweep National Monument        
  • Mesa Verde National Park        
  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail 
  • Pony Express National Historic Trail 
  • Rocky Mountain National Park             
  • Sand Creek Massacre National Historic Site    
  • Santa Fe National Historic Trail 
  • Yucca House National Monument     

Click here to read the full report from NPS.