According to the NASPD, state parks have an economic impact of more than $20 billion annually on the communities they serve.

Several states have recently completed economic impact studies of their state parks. The following is a summary of these studies:


• According to The Economic Impact of Arizona State Parks, an assessment by the Arizona Hospitality Research & Resource Center at Northern Arizona University, W.A. Franke College of Business, direct annual spending by Arizona State Park visitors totals $163 million, or $70.84 per person. The combined total economic impact (direct spending, indirect, and induced impacts) of recreation parks is $156.8 million; historic parks and conservation parks contribute $35.4 million and $32.2 million, respectively.



• The 85.2 million visitors to California state parks generate approximately $2.6 billion in spending in local communities and an estimated $6.7 billion in total output and

new sales.


• According to the Maryland State Parks Economic Impact & Visitor Study, visitors directly spend more than $567 million during their trips to state parks, producing a total economic impact of more than $650 million annually.

New York

• The park system boosts the New York economy by about $2 billion, providing a 5-to-1 return on investment for state spending. State spending produces about 6,600 jobs; visitor spending supports an additional 13,500 jobs, according to an independent study.

North Carolina

• According to a study by researchers at North Carolina State University, state parks contribute $289 million to local economies annually as well as $120 million to local residents’ income.


• A study by the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Management at Penn State assessed that the 38.0 million visitors to Pennsylvania state parks spend $859 million on their trips and support 12,630 jobs.


• Economic Impacts of Tennessee State Parks is prepared every five years by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture. Tennessee 2020 estimated direct spending by the 16.9 million annual visitors to Tennessee state parks at $725.2 million, with 12,000 jobs supported. Including indirect expenditures, the impact to the state’s economy is $1.5 billion.


• Economic activity generated by visitors to the 80 state parks in T exas is estimated at $793 million in sales and accounts for 11,928 jobs.


• Utah’s state parks contribute $67 million in state economic benefit through day-use, camping, and golf.

Most Popular State Parks

The 2016 Readers Choice Awards poll by 10Best (, a USA Today travel site, ranked the Best State Parks as follows:

1. Letchworth State Park (New York)

2. Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park (Michigan)

3. Watkins Glen State Park (New York)

4. Ha Ha Tonka State Park (Missouri)

5. Devil’s Lake State Park (Wisconsin)

6. Fall Creek Falls State Park (Tennessee)

7. Indiana Dunes State Park (Indiana)

8. Assateague State Park (Maryland)

9. Custer State Park (South Dakota)

10. Hunting Island State Park (South Carolina)

118.4 Market Resources

National Association of State Park Directors, 8829 Woodyhill Road, Raleigh, NC 27613. (919) 676-8365. (

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