Colorado’s national parks bring millions to local cities

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Colorado’s national parks generated just under $293 million, and account for 6,366 jobs statewide, according to information from the National Park Service.

Rocky Mountain National Park had the most visits, just under 3 million people, including 174,000 who spent the night. The park accounts for 2,641 jobs.

The second-most visited Colorado national park was Mesa Verde, which had 559,000 visitors. Colorado National Monument had 433,000 visitors and the Grand Sand Dunes National Park had 283,000 visitors.

Nationwide, park visitors spent $12.13 billion in local communities, within 60 miles of the park, Visitors staying outside the parks in hotels, motels and cabins accounted for 56 percent of the total spending, half of which was for lodging and meals. Spending by visitors on overnight trips varied from $47 for backcountry campers to $341 for visitors staying in park lodges. Campers spent $116 per night if staying outside the park and $101 if staying inside the park.

“Our National Parks and other public lands continue to be economic engines that produce and support jobs in communities across America,” said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.“It is the reason President Obama signed an Executive Order last month to promote travel and tourism in the United States. By investing in our parks and promoting them to visitors, especially internationally, we can have the dual benefit of an improved National Park System and a stronger economy that produces more jobs.”