Death Valley National Park Tourism Creates $124 Million in Economic Benefits in Spite of Floods

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Date: April 25, 2016
Contact: Abby Wines, 760-786-3221

DEATH VALLEY, CA –A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 1,154,843 visitors to Death Valley National Park in 2015 spent $95,036,900 in communities near the park. That spending supported 1,336 jobs in nearby communities and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $124,098,200. The amount of money visitors spent in gateway communities increased for the second year in a row.

The report studied the economic benefits of tourism to Death Valley National Park to communities in Nye County (NV), Clark County (NV), Esmeralda County (NV), Inyo County (CA), Mono County (CA), and San Bernardino County (CA) from January through December 2015. Death Valley welcomed 1,154,843 visitors in 2015. This was only 6% below the highest visitation the park had ever counted, and is perhaps surprising when considering challenges near the end of the year.

Many roads in Death Valley National Park were closed after flash flooding in October, which reduced economic benefits to gateway communities in the last quarter of 2015. Most roads were reopened in the following months. The direct route from Shoshone, California to the southern part of Death Valley National Park is still closed. Repair work on this road is scheduled to begin in mid-May. Scotty's Castle, a popular tourist destination, is likely to remain closed until 2019. Repairs to Scotty's Castle Road are planned for spring of 2017.

The same storms that damaged park roads, utilities and historic buildings also set up conditions for the spectacular "super bloom" of wildflowers Death Valley experienced starting in January 2016. Superintendent Mike Reynolds said, "There were people everywhere! People parked anywhere there were nice flowers alongside the road, set up their camp chairs, and just enjoyed the view. Parking lots at popular trailheads were overflowing. Sometimes visitors couldn't find a hotel room closer than 2 hours from the park." 213,212 people visited Death Valley National Park during March 2016. This shattered the park's previous monthly record of 133,300 visitors, set in March 2010.

Superintendent Mike Reynolds said, "Death Valley National Park appreciates the relationships we have with our surrounding counties and communities. Providing a seamlessly high-quality experience for the visiting public is good for both the park and the local economy."

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 $16.9 billion of direct spending by 307.2 million park visitors in counties within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 295,000 jobs nationally;252,000 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $32 billion. National park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service.

According to the 2015 report, most park visitor spending was for lodging (31.1 percent) followed by food and beverages (20.2 percent), gas and oil (11.8 percent), admissions and fees (10.2 percent) and souvenirs and other expenses (9.8 percent).

More information is available through an interactive tool and report at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: The report includes information for visitor spending at individual parks and by state.

To learn more about how the National Park Service works with communities in California and Nevada to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to or

Last updated: April 25, 2016

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