Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Devil Canyon Overlook is pictured at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area near the Sullivan’s Knob Trail in southeastern Montana.

Tourism in Bighorn Canyon adds $13.5M to local economy

A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 259,485 visitors to Bighorn Canyon in 2016 spent $11,238,600 in communities near the park – the main hubs being Fort Smith and Lovell, Wyo. That spending supported 174 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $13,502,700.
“Bighorn Canyon welcomes visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Acting Superintendent Regina Klein Dissler. “We are delighted to share the story of this place and the experiences it provides. We also feature the park as a way to introduce our visitors to this part of the country and all that it offers. 
“National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning more than $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service,” she continued. “It’s a big factor in our local economy as well.”
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; 271,544,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion. 
According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.2 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.2 percent), gas and oil (11.7 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7 percent), local transportation (7.4 percent), and camping fees (2.5 percent).
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:
The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.
For more information visit or