Weather Forecast


Visitors show love, money for states' national parks

A kayaker hauls his gear before another day of paddling in Voyageurs National Park. ( 2006 file / News Tribune)

Visitors to national parks in the Northland likely took home memories, but they definitely left behind some cash.

Accord to reports released in recent days by the National Park Service, 658,000 visitors to Minnesota’s national parks in 2013 spent $38 million and supported 550 jobs in the state.

Those National Park Service properties include Voyageurs National Park, Grand Portage National Monument, Saint Croix National Scenic River, the Mississippi National River and Recreation Area and Pipestone National Monument.

At Voyageurs alone, some 221,600 visitors spent about $17.9 million and spurred 248 jobs in 2013, the report notes.

In northern Wisconsin, some 148,556 visitors to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in 2013 spent $22.4 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 304 jobs in the local area.

“Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is proud to welcome visitors from across the country and around the world,” said Bob Krumenaker, Apostle Islands’ superintendent, in announcing the numbers.

At Isle Royale National Park on Lake Superior, officially in Michigan although much closer to Minnesota’s North Shore, 16,274 visitors spent some $3.5 million and created 51 jobs, the report notes.

The new numbers confirm that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, said Patricia Trapp, acting director of Park Service’s Midwest Region.

“The national parks of Minnesota attract hundreds of thousands of visitors a year from across the country and around the world,” Trapp said in announcing the Minnesota numbers.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists for the National Park Service. Nationwide, the report shows $14.6 billion of direct spending by 273.6 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported more than 237,000 jobs nationally, with more than 197,000 jobs found in these gateway communities and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.5 billion.

According to the 2013 numbers, the top three areas park visitors spent most of their money was: lodging (30.3 percent) followed by food and beverages (27.3 percent) and gas and oil (12.1 percent).