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Wyoming’s outdoor recreation economy grows to over $2B in 2022

A competitor fishes during the fourth episode of a five-part reality series featuring Wyoming's outdoors. (Screenshot, Wyoming Office of Tourism website)

CASPER, Wyo. — Wyoming’s outdoor recreation economy increased to $2.02 billion, or 4.1% of the state’s GDP, according to the latest report from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis. 

The total value added by outdoor recreation rose from $1.5 billion, or 3.6% of state GDP in 2021, representing a $520 million overall increase to the state’s GDP from 2021 to 2022, according to a Wyoming State Parks & Cultural Resources news release. In 2022, Wyoming ranked fourth among all states in outdoor recreation growth, at 26.1%.

Wyoming outdoor recreation employment increased from 15,285 to 16,202 jobs accounting for 5.6% of the state’s total employment. Since 2021, outdoor recreation employment has grown 7.7% in Wyoming, compared with an increase of 7.4% for the United States.

“Outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of the Wyoming economy and is stitched tightly into what it means to live in our state, with endless opportunities to explore the great outdoors,” said Patrick Harrington, manager of the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation. “We are thrilled to see this growth and to celebrate the work of folks all across Wyoming who are advancing this economy in a way that makes sense for the people that call this place home.”

Many outdoor recreation activities saw significant growth in 2022, with some surpassing pre-pandemic value added. Wyoming’s top contributing outdoor recreation activities include RVing, Hunting/Shooting/Trapping, Snow Activities, Boating/Fishing and Motorcycling/ATVing, the release said.

In response to trending visitation growth and demand for new outdoor recreation opportunities and infrastructure across the state, the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation has continued its efforts to help promote, enhance and expand responsible outdoor recreation in Wyoming through a variety of projects, programs and partnerships at a local, state and national level. The Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation currently facilitates eight Outdoor Recreation Collaboratives throughout the state focused on defining grassroots projects and initiatives for outdoor recreation growth and development in communities across the state.

Wyoming’s outdoor recreation industry continues to thrive as a strong economic driver resulting in recent historic advances to ensure outdoor recreation continues to add vitality to local and state economies and the quality of life of Wyoming citizens, the release said.

In July 2022, the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation announced the launch of the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Grant Program. Made available through the American Rescue Plan Act State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds appropriated by the Wyoming Legislature and approved by Governor Mark Gordon, the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation Grant Program was established to award funding to public outdoor recreation projects throughout the state. 

In March 2023, Gov. Mark Gordon signed House Bill 74, creating the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Trust Fund, which is designed to award grants to outdoor recreation projects. This fund will create opportunities to educate recreators, disperse them away from already high traffic areas by building new opportunities, and concentrate them into landscapes that are built to to handle high use sustainably.

Nationwide, the outdoor recreation economy surpassed one trillion dollars for the first time, at  $1.1 trillion or 2.2% U.S. GDP. Outdoor recreation accounts for 3.2% of all U.S. employment, or five million total jobs. 

For information about the Wyoming Office of Outdoor Recreation, visit wyorec.com. The full BEA Report is available at www.bea.gov/news/2023/outdoor-recreation-satellite-account-us-and-states-2022.