National Park tourism in South Dakota creates $236.4 million in economic benefit

Farm Forum

OMAHA, Neb. — A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that 3,950,666 visitors to national parks in South Dakota spent $236.4 million and supported 3,706 jobs in the state in 2012.

“The national parks of South Dakota attract visitors from across the country and around the world and provide premiere historical, cultural, natural, and recreational experiences,” said NPS Midwest Regional Director Michael T. Reynolds. “This new report shows that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy – returning $10 for every $1 invested – and funding generated by national parks has a swift and direct positive impact on local economies in South Dakota as well.”

The national parks in South Dakota are: Badlands National Park, Interior; Jewel Cave National Monument, Custer; Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, Philip; Missouri National Recreational River, Yankton; Mount Rushmore National Memorial, Keystone; and Wind Cave National Park, Hot Springs.

The peer-reviewed visitor spending analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists Catherine Cullinane Thomas and Christopher Huber and Lynne Koontz for the National Park Service. The report shows $14.7 billion of direct spending by 283 million park visitors in communities within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 243,000 jobs nationally, with 201,000 jobs found in these gateway communities, and had a cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy of $26.75 billion.

According to the report most visitor spending supports jobs in restaurants, grocery and convenience stores (39 percent), hotels, motels and B&Bs (27 percent), and other amusement and recreation (20 percent).

To download the report visit

The report includes information for visitor spending by park and by state.

To learn more about national parks in South Dakota and how the National Park Service works with South Dakota communities to help preserve local history, conserve the environment, and provide outdoor recreation, go to