Fact Sheet Minimize


Washington’s outdoor recreation is a driving force for the state’s economy, creating jobs and building rural businesses. It also is a way of life in the Pacific Northwest.

Washingtonians Love to Be Outside 
Washingtonians participate in outdoor recreation more than 445 million days each year, or on average, we spend 56 days a year recreating outdoors. Of all the places there are to go, local parks are the most visited.

What do we do?
The five most popular recreational activities (those with the greatest participation) are 1) walking, 2) running and jogging, 3) wildlife viewing and photography, 4) bicycle riding, and 5) playground use.

Where are we spending the most?
Each year, Washingtonians and visitors spend $21.6 billion on outdoor recreation, supporting many different businesses, such as gear and equipment (42 percent), gas and oil (13 percent), grocery stores (9 percent), food and beverage services (10 percent), and lodging (7 percent). 

When looking at the amount of money spent by land type, outdoor enthusiasts spend the most when they are recreating on the water, especially when using motorized boats. Ranking second in most expenditures were special events such as sports tournaments and races, which generally involve fees and overnight stays, and occur on all land types. Ranking third was recreation on private lands, which includes more costly recreation activities such as golf, skiing, hunting, and off-road vehicle riding. 

When looking at spending by individual types of activities, people spend the most money on wildlife viewing and photography, motorized boating, bicycling, picnicking, and horseback riding.

Other Benefits of Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor recreation not only creates jobs and builds businesses, it cuts health care costs, brings families closer together, helps kids learn in school, and protects the environment. To quantify some of the non-market values, the report looked at the value of ecosystem services provided by the trees, water, and animals found on public recreation lands – clean water, habitat for wildlife, aesthetic beauty, and enhanced recreational experiences. The combined value of these non-market benefits is between $134 billion and $248 billion a year.

Supporting Rural Economies
Recreation markets play an important role in connecting urban and rural communities. The recreation market is one of the largest markets in the state for moving income from urban to rural areas and building jobs in more rural areas. The map to the right shows higher outdoor recreation expenditures outside the state’s largest cities.

About this Report
This report is the first comprehensive analysis of the recreation economy in Washington. It offers economic impact data by geography, by county, and by activity. The Legislature, as part of 2013-2015 Operating Budget, requested the report to quantify the economic contribution to the state economy from the state’s public lands and the economic contribution from statewide outdoor recreation to the state’s economy.

The Recreation and Conservation Office contracted with Earth Economics of Tacoma to compile the data and write the report. Data sources include existing studies on recreation, data recorded by destination sites, local surveys on recreation behavior, licenses and permits issued for specific activities, and modeling of location-specific trends.
































For full report visit: http://www.rco.wa.gov/documents/ORTF/EconomicAnalysisOutdoorRec.pdf