Colorado’s national parks saw record revenue from visitors last year

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Visitors line up at Rocky Mountain National Park’s Fall River Entrance Station, near Estes Park, on July 21, 2021. The park has instituted a timed entry permit and an entrance pass program as a way of managing increased visitor demand alongside COVID-19 concerns, budget constraints and staffing challenges.

National parks in Colorado had a record year in revenue last year.

In a report released by the National Park Service, 7.8 million visitors spent an estimated $560 million while visiting national parks in Colorado in 2021. Those numbers broke the previous mark of $515 million set in 2019. The expenditures from the revenue funded 7,570 jobs in the state, according to the report.

Visitors spent the most of their money on lodging, restaurants, and gas. Lodging brought in $188 million which accounted for 33.5 percent of revenue earned. Restaurants took in $109 million, and $58.7 million was spent on gas.

Rocky Mountain National Park brought in the most visitors and revenue among national parks lands Colorado in 2021 with 4.4 million visitors spending $323 million. That supported 4,420 jobs. 

Mesa Verde National Park on the Western Slope brought in the second highest revenue at $62 million. And in Southern Colorado, Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve brought in the most revenue in the region with $41.3 million from 603,000 visitors.