Wednesday, February 28, 2024

National Parks in Midwest US Create $2 Billion in Economic Impact

Omaha, NE, USA (April 21, 2016) – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 20.66 million visitors to national parks in the NPS Midwest Region spent $1.3 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park site in 2015. That spending supported 22,818 mostly local jobs and provided a $2 billion benefit to the region’s economy.

ABOVE: Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Courtesy National Park Service.

“The national parks of the Midwest Region attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Midwest Region Director Cam Sholly. “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 – and a big factor in the Midwest Region state economies as well. That’s a result we can all support.”

The NPS Midwest Region states are Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.

The national parks in the Midwest Region are: Agate Fossil Beds National Monument, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Arkansas Post National Memorial, Badlands National Park, Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site, Buffalo National River, Col. Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument, Chimney Rock National Historic Site, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Dayton Aviation National Historical Park, Effigy Mounds National Monument, First Ladies National Historic Site Fort Larned National Historic Site, Fort Scott National Historic Site, Fort Smith National Historic Site, Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site, George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, George Washington Carver National Monument, Grand Portage National Monument, Harry S. Truman National Historic Site, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, Homestead National Monument of America, Hopewell Culture National Historical Park, Hot Springs National Park, Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, Isle Royale National Park, James A. Garfield National Historic Site, Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, Jewell Cave National Monument, Keweenaw National Historical Park, Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, Lincoln Boyhood National Monument, Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site, Minute Man Missile National Historic Site, Mississippi National River and Recreation Area, Missouri National Recreational River, Mount Rushmore National Monument, Nicodemus National Historic Site, Niobrara National Scenic River, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Pea Ridge National Military Park, Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Pipestone National Monument, President William Jefferson Clinton Birthplace National Historic Site, Pullman National Monument, River Raisin National Battlefield, St. Croix National Scenic Riverway, Scotts Bluff National Monument, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Theodore Roosevelt National Park, Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site, Voyageurs National Park, William Howard Taft National Historic Site, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, Wind Cave National Park.


State Total Recreation Visits Total Visitor Spending Jobs Total Economic Output
Arkansas 3,282,634 $174.2 million 2,819 $215.4 million
Illinois 233,298 $13.9 million 216 $20.5 million
Indiana 1,887,761 $82.9 million 1,340 $103.7 million
Iowa 209,506 $12.4 million 209 $15.9 million
Kansas 115,901 $5.7 million 92 $7.3 million
Michigan 2,386,614 $204.4 million 3,304 $289.8 million
Minnesota 840,009 $47.3 million 763 $67 million
Missouri 3,247,220 233.9 million 4,164 $339 million
Nebraska 291,238 $13.9 million 228 $17.7 million
North Dakota 605,015 $37.6 million 562 $46 million
Ohio 2,624,149 $168.4 million 2,898 $246 million
South Dakota 4,397,788 $282.3 million 4,801 $364.8 million
Wisconsin 544,223 $49.4 million 834 $67.3 million
Midwest Region 20,664,906 $1.33 billion 22,818 $2.09 billion


The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas of the U.S. Geological Survey and Lynne Koontz of the National Park Service.  The report shows $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally; 252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.

According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).

Report authors this year produced an interactive graphics tool to help illustrate the numbers. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for the nation, states, and at the park level economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and the Visitor Spending Effects report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage at

The report includes information for visitor spending by park and by state. To learn more about national parks in the Midwest Region and how the National Park Service works with communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to For example,

Joe Kleiman
Joe Kleiman
Raised in San Diego on theme parks, zoos, and IMAX films, InPark's Senior Correspondent Joe Kleiman would expand his childhood loves into two decades as a projectionist and theater director within the giant screen industry. In addition to his work in commercial and museum operations, Joe has volunteered his time to animal husbandry at leading facilities in California and Texas and has played a leading management role for a number of performing arts companies. Joe previously served as News Editor and has remained a contributing author to InPark Magazine since 2011. HIs writing has also appeared in Sound & Communications, LF Examiner, Jim Hill Media, The Planetarian, Behind the Thrills, and MiceChat His blog, takes an unconventional look at the attractions industry. Follow on twitter @ThemesRenewed Joe lives in Sacramento, California with his wife, dog, and a ghost.

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