Research Highlights

Research and Resources




There’s nowhere else on earth like Utah. Our unique combination of the best snow on earth and the nation’s best playgrounds make Utah the best place to recreate in the United States. When one factors in the fact that Utah has the healthiest economy in the nation it’s clear that there’s no better place to work and play than in Utah.

WalletHub: Utah has the healthiest economy in the U.S.

Utah is home to roughly 54 million acres of public lands, including 5 National Parks, forty-three state parks, 7 National Monuments and sixteen of the best ski resorts in the world. These outdoor spaces are our state’s greatest assets and are the economic foundation of our economy.

Life Elevated: Utah’s Mighty 5 National Parks and other National Places

Whether people are coming to hop off a lift to ski our champagne powder, or are coming to Utah to climb Wall Street in Moab, some analysts estimate that the direct net benefit of the tourism and outdoors industries to our economy is as high as $17 billion per year. Utah welcomes well over 20 million visitors per year, and recreation visits to our National Places is increasing at over 15% per year.

Fodor's 2016: Utah is the #1 Place to Visit in the World

These visits not only support our leisure and hospitality industry and our outdoor products industry, but also have far reaching effects on our retail, construction and real estate industries. Additionally, this visitor spending is vital to our state budget, accounting for $1.15 billion in tax revenue each year.


Roughly 150,000 Utahns are employed in tourism and outdoor industry, meaning that over 1 in every 10 people in our state relies on this industry for employment. In counties like Grand County, Utah, almost half the population works in the travel and tourism field. Travel and tourism contributes over $4 billion to Utahn's wages every year, and that number is steadily increasing. Protecting our public lands means that we’re also protecting these jobs and this vital sector of our economy. 

University of Utah Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute: The State of Utah’s Travel and Tourism Industry, 2017

Headwaters Economics: The Economic Value of Public Lands in Grand County, Utah

Additionally, our quality of life allows Utah businesses to recruit and keep talented business individuals from around the country. Our public lands close proximity to our major cities makes Utah the best place to have or to start a career.

CNBC: Salt Lake City is the best place to start a career; has the highest ‘Quality of Life’ in the nation

"Good Quote Here"

In the entire western region of the United States, where public lands are a major draw for all Americans, job growth has out paced the rest of the country by 74 percent over the last 40 years. This is the type of long-term, sustainable growth that is seen around public lands, with 19.3 million of those new jobs created being in the services sector.

Headwaters Economics: “West is Best How Public Lands in the West Create a Competitive Economic Advantage”

While the designation of a National Monument can be a source of extensive political debate, there's no debating that when a Monument is designated it has a positive economic impact on the area surrounding it. As an example, after the designation of the Grand Staircase-Escalante Monument the following effects were seen in the surrounding areas:

  • Jobs grew by 24%
  • Population grew by 13%
  • Real personal income grew by 32%
  • Real per capita income grew by 17% 

Most importantly, this is growth that developed and sustained itself over a period of 20 years, and that will continue to sustain itself since a National Monument is a resource that cannot be depleted. Public lands create jobs and grow Utah's economy in the healthiest way.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument: “A Summary of Economic Performance in the Surrounding Communities”


With our public lands providing unmatched access to field-testing opportunities, Utah is home to some of the nation’s premier outdoor product companies, such as Black Diamond, Easton, Lifetime Products and Easton (and about 200 others). Over 7,000 Utahns work in the outdoor product field, and employment is rapidly increasing, growing at over 25% over the last 5 years.

EDCUtah: Utah’s Outdoor Products Employment Index is 10 times higher than the national average

Utah's unmatched business advantages are a huge reason that the state continues to see such phenomenal economic growth every year. However, our state's outdoor opportunities are high on the list when it comes to those business advantages. For the fiscal year 2016, nine major companies located to Utah at least in part because of the outdoor recreation that's found here. Those companies include: Selle Royal, Cotopaxi, SIA, SolarCity, Stadler Rail, Alces Technology, SoFi, Peek Travel and Press Ganey. Bringing in these businesses is expected to create nearly 6,000 Utah jobs and over $3.15 billion dollars in wages over the next 5-15 years.

GOED Annual Resource Report p. 28: Outdoor Recreation Brought Businesses to Utah