How many visitors – and dollars – MN's national parks helped bring in last year

National parks in Minnesota saw 1 million visitors last year.

It turns out national parks can be pretty good for the economy.

The National Park Service (NPS) released a bunch of data this week, and it shows the estimated 1 million visitors to National Park Service lands in Minnesota last year spent an estimated $56.2 million in communities located within 60 miles of the parks.

That's up from 2015, when visitors spent $47.3 million in and around the state's national parks.

All that money people spent in Minnesota last year helped the state's economy quite a bit. According to NPS, it supported 897 jobs and contributed $79.7 million to Minnesota's economy through spending on things like hotels, restaurants, and gas.

You can see a breakdown of all the spending here.

Spending in Minnesota by park

There are five official National Park Service locations in Minnesota. Here's a breakdown of how much each one contributed to the state's economy:

– Voyageurs National Park near International Falls: There were 241,911 visitors in 2016 who spent $19.7 million. That spending helped support 310 jobs and contributed $24.6 million to the local economy.

– The Mississippi National River and Recreation Area in the Twin Cities: There were 256,944 visitors in 2016 who spent $11.18 million. That helped support 175 jobs and contributed $15.56 million to the local economy.

– Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Portage: There were 95,862 visitors last year who spent $6.174 million. That helped support 87 jobs, and contributed $6.11 million to the local economy.

– Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone: There were 67,489 visitors last year who spent $3.9 million. That helped support 66 jobs, and contributed a little more than $5 million to the local economy.

– The Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway in St. Croix Falls, Minnesota and Wisconsin: There were 708,259 visitors last year, who spent $30.3 million in communities near the park. That helped support 473 jobs and contributed $41.6 million to the local economy in both states.

How about nationally?

Nationally, there were 331 million park visitors last year who spent $18.4 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park.

That spending helped support 318,000 jobs nationally, and contributed $34.9 billion to the U.S. economy.


"National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning more than $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service, and it’s a big factor in our local economy as well," Bob DeGross, superintendent of Voyageurs National Park, said in a statement. "We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities.”

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