Fishing on the Little Juniata River, PA

Fishermen cast their lines on the Little Juniata River in Pennsylvania. 

Pennsylvania was one of the top 10 states receiving the most dollars from outdoor recreation in 2019, ranking sixth in the nation with $13 billion in revenue.

Among other states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, New York ranked fourth with $29 billion in outdoor recreation dollars, according to the federal Bureau of Economic Analysis. Virginia ranked 17th with $9 billion and Maryland was 23rd with $7 billion.

Recreation revenue considered in the study included money spent on travel, accommodations, food, retail sales and employment related to manufacturing outdoors products in each state.

Nationwide, outdoor recreation was a $460 billion industry in 2019, a 1.3% increase over 2018, the report showed. The states with the highest recreational dollars were California, Florida and Texas, in order.

The statistics could see significant jumps in the next analysis, as COVID-19 drove many more people outdoors.

Boating/fishing was the top category of outdoor pursuits across the nation. Following was the use of recreational vehicles and motorcycles/all-terrain vehicles.

An official from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources said the report confirmed how much value Pennsylvanians place on their state parks and forests, which total 2.5 million acres.

“State and local parks, state forests and trails are true economic drivers worthy of investments to keep them open, safe and welcoming,” spokeswoman Gretchen Leslie said.

“Not only do they support jobs and generate revenue, but they also provide the amenities and services that are so critical to the vibrancy of the places we call home. Access to the outdoors for all improves quality of life, which translates into attracting business and increasing housing value,” she said.

Ad Crable is a Bay Journal staff writer based in Pennsylvania. Contact him at 717-341-7270 or

(1) comment

Jeff in Kensington

The study covered here is a bit odd. I learned that RVing is an outdoor activity, at least to the U.S. Department of Commerce agency that did the study. Second most commercially valuable outdoor activity, it turns out. The study also shows that the Chesapeake Bay states are not big outdoors recreation states. Looked at by the percentage of state GDP spent on outdoor recreation, the Mid-Atlantic states are all far behind Hawaii, Florida, Montana, Wyoming and Maine, where more than 4 percent of state GDP comes from outdoor recreation. None of states sharing the bay watershed get as much as 2 percent of their revenue from outdoor recreation. West Virginia is at the top with 1.9 percent of state GDP.

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