What drives the outdoor recreation economy?

The outdoor recreation economy thrives when Americans spend their hard-earned dollars in the pursuit of outdoor recreation. This spending occurs in two forms: the purchase of gear and vehicles, and dollars spent on trips and travel. Gear purchases include anything for outdoor recreation, such as outdoor apparel and footwear, bicycles, skis, fishing waders, tents, rifles, or backpacks. Vehicle purchases include vehicles and accessories used only for outdoor recreation, such as boats, motorcycles, RVs, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles.

A recent photo of several members from Boise ATV Trail Riders Club who traveled over 80 miles from Boise to Lowman, Idaho wanting to do their part in helping to keep the roads and trails open for all, which helps the economy. Most stayed at the campground in their RV, one stayed in a Lowman motel, and several came up just for the day. Each spending money on fuel and food, as well as recreation equipment such as their ATV, trucks, trailers and recreational vehicles.

The outdoor recreation economy grows long after consumers purchase outdoor gear and vehicles. When people use their outdoor gear and vehicles, they spend money on day and overnight trips, and on travel-related expenses such as airfares, rental cars, lodging, campgrounds, restaurants, groceries, gasoline and souvenirs. They pay for river guides and outfitters, lift tickets and ski lessons, entrance fees, licenses and much more. Their spending supports innumerable small business owners. And they visit recreation areas that are cared for by land managers, park rangers, NGOs and volunteers.

This spending is the outdoor recreation economy — $646 billion in spending that each year supports 6.1 million direct jobs and $80 billion in federal, state and local tax revenue.


See link for the Outdoor Recreation Economy Report 2012.

Source: Kristen Nelson, National Interpretive Services and Tourism Manager, US Forest Service, 202-205-1406