Nov 18, 2022 - Business

Skiing and snow sports drive Colorado's outdoor economy

Value added to Colorado GDP by select outdoor activities in 2021
Data: Bureau of Economic Analysis; Table: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Colorado outdoor recreation generated $11.6 billion in economic activity in 2021 with the snow sports industry leading the nation, a new federal report shows.

State of play: Outdoor recreation activities accounted for 2.7% of the state's total gross domestic product and created more than 125,000 jobs, or 4% of the state's total, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Half the value added is from supporting industries, such as travel and tourism.

  • The majority of the recreation sectors saw growth compared to pre-pandemic numbers, with hiking, tent camping and climbing leading the way at 37% growth in 2021 compared to the year prior.
  • Colorado's $1.3 billion generated in economic activity linked to snow sports ranked first in the nation.

Yes, but: Snow activities is the one sector that hasn't rebounded to pre-pandemic levels. It's still down 19% from 2019, the report found.

What they're saying: Conor Hall, the state's outdoor recreation czar, noted growth during the pandemic and said in a statement that Colorado "must continue our work to support the industry, stewardship of our natural resources and equitable access to the outdoors."

The big picture: Nationwide, the outdoor industry grew 19% in 2021 after seeing an equal level decline in 2020, both of which exceeded the broader economy.

  • Colorado's overall outdoor economy ranked 12th nationally behind bigger states and those along the coasts.

What to watch: The Biden administration is reviving efforts to elevate the outdoor recreation industry, which the Colorado Sun reports is lobbying for a national office and undersecretary-level leader.

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