A new study, Economic Analysis of
Outdoor Recreation in Washington State, by Earth
Economics demonstrates the importance of outdoor recreation for the Washington State economy.
Washington State residents recreate an average of 56 days a year outside and spend money when
they do it. Residents and visitors collectively spend $21.6 billion annually on trips and
equipment purchases supporting nearly 200,000 jobs.
This spending reaches all corners of the state as destinations for recreation include the
coastlines, wild rivers, mountains, forests, open deserts, and everything in between.
Those with jobs in cities like Seattle who are attracted to the region for the quality of life
and access to outdoor recreeation, spend their income in communities across the state. As a
result, outdoor recreation represents one of the most imporant means of moving income from urban
areas to rural communities.
Over one third of this economic activity occurs along water. American Whitewater is actively
engaged in efforts to promote public access to water and conserve the river resources of the
state that represent an important engine for this economic activity.
With abundant rainfall throughout the winter and snowpack and glaicers that keep rivers flowing
through the summer, Washington has hundreds of great whitewater trips.
“I have lived here for nearly two decades and I still find new rivers to explore within a
day’s drive of my home,” notes Thomas O’Keefe the Pacific Northwest Director
for American Whitewater. “The state truly offers a lifetime of adventures for outdoor
recreation and those of us who enjoy these experiences spend money pursuing our
The study was commissioned by the Recreation and Conservation
and American Whitewater provided data and information for the report. It supports the
work of the Governor’s Blue
Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation
which provided a series of action steps
designed to increase participation in outdoor recreation. Today’s study, makes clear that
this increased participation will also come with enhanced economic benefits for the state.
Similar opportuntiies exist in states across the Western United States.