Benefits of Parks and Trails

Peggy Prowe, a strong advocate for the trail riding across the bridge in Northfield named in her honor.

Parks & Trails are good for the economy

Outdoor recreation in the United States is big business. Americans spend more on outdoor recreation than on pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, gasoline, or household utilities. And outdoor recreation spending spurs job growth; the outdoor recreation industry employs more Americans than finance, construction, transportation, education, or real estate.

Minnesotans love outdoor recreation. Nearly 9 million people visit Minnesota’s state parks every year, and more than just enjoying worldclass recreation, these visitors are integral to the state’s economy. Parks and trails are instrumental in Minnesota’s economic output: they increase retail sales, support jobs, attract new residents and businesses, and boost property values. A University of Minnesota study has found every dollar invested in conserving natural lands nets a return of $1.70 to $4.40.

Increase retail sales

Create jobs

Attract businesses and residents

Boost property values

Read full report

Parks & Trails are good for your health

Physical activity is one of the easiest, effective, and most inexpensive ways of improving health. Even moderate, weekly exercise decreases the risk for many of the most costly medical conditions such as weight control, stroke, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, falls and hip fractures, depression, and certain types of cancer. Unfortunately, only 21% of Minnesota adults meet physical activity guidelines, and 19% don’t get any physical activity at all. Sedentary life styles are costly: researchers estimate physical inactivity is a leading contributor of premature death, accounting for 22% of coronary heart disease, 22% of colon cancer, 18% of osteoporosis-related fractures, 12% of diabetes and hyper-tension, and 5% of breast cancer. Encouraging physical activity, then, is crucial to improving Minnesota’s health.

“Every $1 spent on bike trails and walking paths saves an estimated $3 in health costs” ~ American Heart Association

Read full report
Kayakers on Lake Superior with Gold Rock Point
Kayakers next to Gold Rock Point

Parks & Trails are good for tourism

Tourism plays a significant role in our state’s overall economic picture. It generates nearly 20% of Minnesota’s sales tax revenues and supports over 10% of Minnesota’s private sector employment. And outdoor recreation is a significant driver of tourism.

Nearly half of all tourists in Minnesota participate in outdoor activities. Many visit our parks, helping to make Minnesota State Parks among the top most visited attractions in the state (of the top 35 most visited attractions in Minnesota, 12 are state parks). When tourists in Minnesota are asked what they are visiting, state parks rank second only to friends and family.

Tourists from out-of-state have an important impact on our state.

Nearly 20% of state park visitors are tourists from out-of-state

$75 million business sales come from out-of-state tourists

$440 million is spent along Minnesota’s non-motorized trails every year by tourists from out-of-state

Read full report