Which parks generate the most spending by visitors?
The chart below shows the top 10 park units in terms of overall spending generated by visitors in 2011. I was a little surprised by these results. Generally speaking, I figured that the park units with the most visitors would also have the highest amount of total spending by its visitors. Not so. For example: although the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area ranks 32nd in the total number of visitors for 2011, it ranked 9th in the total amount of spending generated by visitors. Moreover, only five parks that ranked in the top 10 for visitors in 2011, also ranked in the top 10 for visitor spending:
Which park units supported the most jobs?
This analysis was more in line with what I expected. Generally speaking, the park units with the most visitors tended to support the most jobs for the surrounding local communities:
|Great Smoky Mountains NP||11,418|
|Grand Canyon NP||7,361|
|Grand Teton NP||6,352|
|Blue Ridge PKWY||4,379|
|Glen Canyon NRA||2,755|
|Rocky Mountain NP||2,742|
|Denali NP & Preserve||2,669|
Which park units generated the most spending on a per visitor basis?
Finally, I wanted to see which park units generated the most spending on a per visitor basis. These results were quite interesting. Each of the park units making the top 10 in this category were in Alaska. At first glance you might think that this must seem like some statistical anomaly. However, given how remote each of these parks are from civilization, the cost of services is likely far greater than in the lower 48. I would also guess that transportation costs are likely the biggest drivers in spending. My guess is that many of these parks have local airports and local air services that benefit from park visitors.
|Yukon-Charley Rivers NPRES||$1,144|
|Denali NP & PRES||$394|
|Aniakchak NM & PRES||$368|
|Bering Land Bridge NPRES||$345|
|Gates of the Arctic NP & PRES||$345|
|Cape Krusenstern NM||$345|
|Kobuk Valley NP||$344|
|Lake Clark NP & PRES||$344|
|Katmai NP & PRES||$257|
Not on the list above, but ranked 11th, is Grand Teton National Park, which makes it the highest ranked park outside of Alaska in terms of spending on a per visitor basis ($169).
The George Washington Memorial Parkway in Washington DC has the distinction of having the lowest amount of spending on a per visitor basis - only $4.63.
The lowest ranked national park is Glacier Bay National Park & Preserve in Alaska. On average, visitors only spend $10.63. Well, you might be asking yourself why this park isn't ranked much higher - given that it's in Alaska. According to the park website; "Most visitors to Glacier Bay see the park from large cruise ships with thousands of passengers. These visitors do not go ashore in the park; instead National Park Service naturalists board the ship to share their knowledge about the park and its wildlife during a day-long cruise in the bay."
I would interpret this to mean that the NPS doesn't count these dollars as being spent in a local community.
To view the entire NPS report, please click here.