SILVER CITY — A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that the 1,872,045 visitors to national parks in New Mexico in 2016 spent $108.4 million in the state. That spending supported 1,685 jobs and had a cumulative benefit to the state economy of $132.4 million. It also represents an 11.1 percent increase in spending and a 9.1 percent rise in visitation over 2015.

“From Aztec Ruins to White Sands, the 14 national park units of New Mexico attract visitors from within the state, across the country and around the world,” said NPS Intermountain Region Director Sue Masica. “Whether they are out for a weekend, a school field trip, or a month-long vacation, visitors come to have a great experience, and end up spending some money along the way. This new report also 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 New Mexico’s economy. That’s a result we can all support.”

New Mexico’s national park sites include Carlsbad Caverns National Park; Aztec Ruins, Bandelier, Capulin Volcano, El Malpais, El Morro, Fort Union, Gila Cliff Dwellings, Petroglyph, Salinas Pueblo Missions and White Sands national monuments, Chaco Culture and Pecos national historical parks and Valles Caldera National Preserve.

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 $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally, with 271,544 of those jobs in these park gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion.
According to the 2016 report, most park visitor spending, by percentage, was for lodging (31.2 percent), followed by food and beverages (27.2), gas and oil (11.7), admissions and fees (10.2), souvenirs and other expenses (9.7), local transportation (7.4), and camping fees (2.5).