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Numerology: State of Fun

Colorado’s booming outdoor recreation economy is essential to the well being and identity of this thriving state. Here’s some big numbers that back up that claim.

Colorado has built a national reputation as the epicenter of the outdoor industry, of clean business and a quality of life that draws everyone from Google to The North Face here to set up shop. Why not? Here you can head out and find deep meaning in big mountains one day and watch an NBA game the next. Colorado got here because it’s a state that embraces outdoor recreation and conservation as key building blocks to sustainable communities. To celebrate our forward-thinking state, we decided to run down the numbers behind this outdoor recreation economy.


$28 billion

The amount consumers spend on outdoor recreation in Colorado, according to a report from the Outdoor Industry Association (OIA), the trade group that advocates for outdoor brands. That spending reels in $2 billion in state and local tax revenues and creates 229,000 direct jobs that rack up $9.7 billion in wages and salaries.


Number of times Luis Benitez, the director of the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office, has stood atop one the Seven Summits, the highest mountains on each continent, including six successful trips to the top of Mount Everest.


Acreage of the newly opened Eagle River Park near the Eagle County Fair and Rodeo Grounds and Chambers Park. The park is part of the Eagle River Corridor Plan established in 2015. In April of 2016, town of Eagle voters approved a 0.5 percent sales tax to fund a variety of park and trail improvements including the River Park project.


Acreage of the new Riverfront at las Colonias business park in Grand Junction. The progressive office space is drawing brands like Rocky Mounts—who moved to the West Slope from Boulder because of the allure of the space—and Bonsai Design, with built-to-suit spots that incorporate sustainable design practices from LEED, Green Globes, and like-minded industry leaders. It features outdoor meeting zones as well as an open space park, aerial adventure, bike trails, retail outlets and a river recreation zone. “We are seeing more and more interest from businesses like Rocky Mounts,” says Robin Brown, Grand Junction Economic Partnership executive director. “Companies are growing tired of metropolitan areas and their long commutes, high real estate costs and congested neighborhoods. They want good business conditions without compromising on quality of life. We believe we can offer that here in Colorado’s Grand Valley.”

photo courtesy LUIS B ENITEZ


 Number of Colorado residents who participate in outdoor recreation each year. Wow, that actually seems low to us here at EO.

$919 million 

Amount hunting contributes to the Colorado economy each year. Fishing contributes $1.92 billion and wildlife watching contributes $2.28 billion. Resident and non-resident big game hunters each contribute about $300 million dollars to Colorado’s economy each year. Resident big game hunters spend nearly twice as many days hunting as do non- residents, but non-residents spend nearly twice as much per day to hunt in Colorado.


Estimated number of jobs that will be created, including 80 top-level corporate positions, by the move of the VF Corporation to Denver, announced in September. VF is the parent of The North Face, JanSport, Smartwool, Eagle Creek and Altra. Those brands are currently in separate locations across the U.S., but they will all move in together in Colorado. “The state’s position on the outdoor environment—clean air and land and access—is personal to our employees and we’re creating an environment that allows our employees to bring their best selves to work,” VF president Steve Rendle says. “This just started to feel like the best place to be.”

Three Hundred and Forty

The number of brands registered to attend the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market trade show in Denver in early November. The show moved its three-time yearly event from Utah to Colorado because Utah politicians insisted on promoting disturbing anti-public lands measures such as shrinking Bears Ears National Monument and even seizing and selling off federally protected land essential for outdoor recreation and quality of life.

25,000 to 30,000

The estimated number of hikers who climb Grays and Torreys peaks each year, according to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. The group says about 334,000 people hiked a fourteener in 2017, up 7.4 percent from the previous season. 

photo courtesy BEN DUKE
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