Do you know how many people in your state actively participate in outdoor activities and how much they are spending on it?

According to the Outdoor Industry Association’s recently released 2017 National Recreation Economy Report, outdoor recreation in the United States generates a whopping $887 billion in spendings each year. Wow!

The report includes a survey conducted by Southwick Associates, that reveals the percentage of the population of each state that participate in outdoor recreation activities. We created a map to visualize this data:

Outdoor Receation Participation in % of the population of each state in the US

The Top 10 States with the Highest Percentage of Outdoorsy Residents

  • Alaska – At the top of the list, 81% of Alaska’s population participate in outdoor recreation, and it’s no surprise. With its picturesque landscape, Alaska is well known for fishing, hiking, and wildlife.
  • Montana – Like Alaska, Montana’s outdoor recreation industry is well supported with 81% of the population participating in some form of outdoor recreation. Montana has outstanding natural assets ranging from expansive miles of public land to 54 state parks and numerous fishing sites.
  • Idaho – The study found that 79% of Idaho residents participate in outdoor recreational activities. The Gem State is well known for its hot springs, canyons, vast lakes and some of the largest unspoiled wilderness areas in the United States.
  • North Dakota – Barely ranking below Idaho is North Dakota – with 76% of its population participating in outdoor recreation. It’s location and climate is perfectly suited for seeing the Northern Lights.
  • Wyoming – With its mountainous landscape, it’s no surprise that Wyoming ranks in the Top 10. 73% of Wyoming residents participate in outdoor activities such as wildlife viewing, hiking, and ATV-related recreation.
  • Utah – Camping and day hiking are just a few of the activities and recreation that Utah residents are likely to participate in. 72% of Utah’s population participates in outdoor recreation activities.
  • Vermont72% of the population of Vermont participate in outdoor activities. Activities like snowshoeing, biking, boating, and day hiking are among the popular ones.
  • Washington – Like Vermont, 72% of the population engage in some form of outdoor recreation. Hiking trails, state parks, lake activities, and various sightseeing tours make up just a part of Washington’s outdoor recreation industry.
  • Colorado – Well known for its snow sports and mountain related outdoor activities, Colorado ranks surprisingly low on the list – although still making the Top 10. 71% of Colorado’s population participate in outdoor recreation activities ranging from day hiking to popular winter sports.
  • Maine – Last, but certainly not least, 70% of Maine residents participate in outdoor activities, especially snowshoeing and kayaking.

The Top 5 States Who Spend Most on Outdoor Recreation

You may be surprised that some of the well known outdoorsy adventure states like Colorado or Montana are not to be found in the top 5. In fact, this list shows that population numbers play a huge role in a state’s outdoor economy.

  1. California: $92 billion
  2. Florida: $58.6 billion
  3. Texas: $52.6 billion
  4. New York: $41.8 billion
  5. Pennsylvania: $29.1 billion

What is the Money spent on?

Of the $887 billion that outdoor recreation generates, $184.5 billion come from consumer spending on outdoor recreation products such as gear, apparel, footwear, equipment, services and vehicle purchases.

What about the other $702.3 billion?  Expenditures such as airfare, fuel, lodging, groceries, lift tickets, guides, lessons, etc. are responsible for this and make up a significant part of the consumer spending on outdoor recreation.

7.6 Million American Jobs depend on Outdoor Recreation

States known for their outdoor adventure characteristics have some of the highest numbers, by percentage, in outdoor recreation-related jobs: like Alaska (9.7% of the population), Wyoming (8.5%), and Vermont (8.2%) – to name a few. The outdoor recreation industry’s significant impact on the economy means it’s the lifeblood of millions of Americans.

Fun Facts

Here are a few fun facts from the report:

More Americans participate in outdoor recreation each year (145 MILLION) than attend NFL, NBA, MLB AND NHL games combined (134 MILLION).

More Americans are directly employed by hunting and fishing (483,000) than oil and gas extraction industries (180,000).

More Californians are employed by the outdoor recreation industry (691,000) than the wine and television industry (516,000) combined.

Based on the 2017 report, it’s evident and undeniable that outdoor recreation is on the rise throughout the United States. Everyone should come to the realization that outdoor recreation promotes good mental and physical health, and supplements a good quality of life. It should be a priority to preserve and protect public lands and waters in such a way that they can be enjoyed by generations to come.

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Data Source: OIA 2017 National Recreation Economy Report