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Death Valley Visitors Spent $108m in Local Economy

Graph of visitor spending

Jan17_001 Family at Devil's Golf Course by Kurt Moses

DEATH VALLEY, CA – A new National Park Service (NPS) report shows that visitors to Death Valley National Park spent $108,000,000 in communities near the park last year. That spending supported about 1,500 jobs in the local area.

The study analyzed the economic impact of Death Valley National Park on surrounding counties in Nevada and California.

Superintendent Mike Reynolds said, “Death Valley had more visitors in 2016 than ever before. I’m not surprised that the economic benefit to local communities was also a new record.”

1,296,283 people traveled to Death Valley National Park in 2016. Visitation increased in spite of the temporary closure of Scotty’s Castle due to a flash flood. People were drawn by last year’s super bloom and a nationwide “Find Your Park” publicity campaign.

“People come from across the country and around the world,” said Superintendent Mike Reynolds. “I’m amazed at the different languages I hear when I walk through the visitor center.”

Most Death Valley-bound travelers spend a night, fuel up, or have a meal in a gateway community such as Pahrump, Amargosa Valley, Beatty, Tonopah, Bishop, Lone Pine, Ridgecrest, Baker, or Shoshone.

Last year visitors spent about $38 million on hotels and camping, $20 million on restaurants, $18 million on groceries and retail purchases, $11 million on transportation, $11 million on gas, and $10 million on recreation in Death Valley’s surrounding communities.

“We appreciate the partnership and support of our neighbors and are glad to be able to give back by helping to sustain local communities,” said Superintendent Reynolds.

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 $18.4 billion of direct spending by 331 million park visitors nation-wide in counties within 60 miles of a national park. This spending supported 318,000 jobs nationally; 271,544 of those jobs are found in these gateway communities. The cumulative benefit to the U.S. economy was $34.9 billion.

Report authors this year produced an interactive tool. Users can explore current year visitor spending, jobs, labor income, value added, and output effects by sector for national, state, and local economies. Users can also view year-by-year trend data. The interactive tool and report are available at the NPS Social Science Program webpage: 


Death Valley National Park is the homeland of the Timbisha Shoshone and  preserves natural and cultural resources, exceptional wilderness, scenery, and learning experiences within the nation’s largest conserved desert landscape and some of the most extreme climate and topographic conditions on the planet. About two-thirds of the park was originally designated as Death Valley National Monument in 1933. Today the park is enjoyed by about 1,300,000 people per year. The park is 3,400,000 acres – nearly as large as the state of Connecticut. Learn more at