In 2015, a record-breaking 4.1 million visitors to Yosemite National Park spent nearly $450 million in gateway communities within 60 miles of the park.
Out of all visitors to the park last year, about 110,000 were categorized as day trips by people from ‘local’ communities surrounding Yosemite. Last year was the first time since 1996 that an excess of 4 million people visited Yosemite.
These expenditures supported nearly 7,000 jobs, and nearly $208 million in labor income in towns surrounding the park.
According to the report from the National Park Service, Natural Resource Stewardship and Science Office, 31.1% of the $450 million was spent for lodging, followed by food and beverages (20.2%), gas and oil (11.8%), admissions and fees (10.2%), and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8%).
Nearly 30% of visitors to a national park stay in hotels outside the park, with another 6.4% camping outside the park.
The No. 1 entrance for visitors to Yosemite is via Highway 41, through Coarsegold, Oakhurst, and Fish Camp.
“The national parks of California attract visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Pacific West Regional Director Laura Joss. “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 state’s economy as well, a result we can all support.”
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 visitors to 57 parks nationally (a new record and an increase over 2014 of nearly 5%) in gateway communities.
This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally, with 252,000 of those jobs found in gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion.
There are more than two dozen national parks in California - more than any other state in the nation - including Yosemite, Sequoia, Muir Woods, Point Reyes National Seashore, Lassen Volcanic, Joshua Tree, Death Valley, and lessor known parks such as Cabrillo, Lava Beds, and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monuments.
Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: go.nps.gov/vse.
To learn more about national parks in California and how the National Park Service works with communities in the state to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to www.nps.gov/ca.