State Parks Are Big Business

A new study indicates state parks in Kansas are a boom to the economy.

According to Governor Laura Kelly’s Office,  a new study by the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks (KDWP) and the Center for Economic Development and Business Research (CEDBR) at Wichita State University showing Kansas parks have a positive economic impact across the state and across several industries.

“This study confirms that our wildlife and parks industry is good for our economy and good for Kansans,” said Governor Laura Kelly. “In 2020, state park visitors contributed more than $170 million to grow our economy. We’ll use this data to support our parks, strengthen our economy, and continue improving Kansans’ quality of life.”

For the study, KDWP and CEDBR polled 39,156 visitors who stayed at one of Kansas’s 28 state parks between April 1, 2020 and September 11, 2020 to better understand economic contributions to regional and state economies. Notable findings from the study include:

  • Survey respondents had an average party size of four people, stayed 4.1 days, and spent approximately $510 each trip.
  • On average, 91.9% of visitors indicated they would recommend the state park to others, and 79.9% indicated they would revisit the same state park within a year.
  • In 2020 alone, largely due to the global pandemic, Kansas state parks saw a dramatic increase of 52% in the number of visitor days in parks. This led to an additional 1,354 jobs and $35.2 million dollars in wages for Kansans.
  • In 2020, total estimated spending by visitors in Kansas was 170.1 million dollars.
  • Approximately 67% of spending related to nature-based tourism activities was conducted near survey respondents’ destination, with sales predominantly conducted within just 40 miles of Kansas state parks. Currently, 29 Kansas counties are home to at least a portion of a state park.

“Kansas state parks not only provide natural amenities which help visitors destress and improve their quality of life,” said CEDBR Director Jeremy Hill, “They are economic engines for each of the twenty-eight regional economies.”

“We’re proud to contribute to the state’s economy, especially in the mostly rural communities where our state parks are located,” said KDWP Secretary Brad Loveless. “If there’s anything the past two years have taught us, it’s that people’s time is valuable and when given the choice, people want to spend their time out-of-doors. This challenges us to constantly improve the park experience, so this data will be invaluable in helping us determine where our efforts can benefit visitors most.”

“As our staff and volunteers plan special events, they remain committed to offering activities that are not only memorable, but improve visitors’ quality of life,” said Kansas State Parks Director Linda Lanterman. “No matter the income level of our visitors, Kansas state parks remain an affordable, ‘close to home’ getaway that everyone can enjoy.”

For more on Kansas State Parks, and to view the full study, visit The full report can also be downloaded here.