A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that over 8.3 million visitors to national parks in Washington spent $505 million in the state in 2018. That spending resulted in 5,826 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $700 million.

“The national parks of Washington attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Stan Austin, regional director for the Pacific West Region. “Whether they are out for an afternoon, a school field trip, or a month-long family vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending a little money along the way. This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, a result we can all support.”

The national parks in Washington are:

  • Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial
  • Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve
  • Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
  • Ice Age Floods National Geologic Trail
  • Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park – Seattle
  • Lake Chelan National Recreation Area
  • Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area
  • Manhattan Project National Historical Park
  • Mount Rainier National Park
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Olympic National Park
  • Ross Lake National Recreation Area
  • San Juan Island National Historical Park
  • Whitman Mission National Historic Site
  • Wing Luke Museum of the Asian Pacific American Experience (affiliated area)

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Egan Cornachione of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service. The report shows $20.2 billion of direct spending by more than 318 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 329,000 jobs nationally; 268,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $40.1 billion.

Lodging expenses account for the largest share of visitor spending, about $6.8 billion in 2018. Food expenses are the second largest spending area and visitors spent $4 billion in restaurants and bars and another $1.4 billion at grocery and convenience stores.

Visitor spending on lodging supported more than 58,000 jobs and more than 61,000 jobs in restaurants. Visitor spending in the recreation industries supported more than 28,000 jobs and spending in retail supported more than 20,000 jobs.

Report authors also produce an interactive tool that enables users to explore 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: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/socialscience/vse.htm

To learn more about national parks in Washington and how the National Park Service works with Washingtonian communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/state/wa.