Economic Analysis of Outdoor Recreation in Washington State

Washington’s outdoor recreation is a driving force for the state’s economy, creating jobs and building rural businesses. It also is a way of life in the Pacific Northwest. The report shows $26.5 billion is spent on recreation trips and equipment annually, supporting 264,000 jobs across Washington State.

Economic and Health Benefits of Walking, Hiking, and Bicycling on Recreational Trails in Washington State

Companion studies that look at the economic, environmental, social, and health benefits of trails.

Recreational Assets of Statewide Significance

RCO conducted a study of recreational assets of statewide significance. These are outdoor places that make Washington a great place to live. They include local facilities that support the most popular forms of recreation in our state as well as marque, popular, and destination sites that have a regional or statewide draw.

The study identified these assets, where gaps may exist, and recommendations and investment strategies to fill these gaps. The study also forecasts needs through 2040 and how this study will implement the goals of the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Plan.

Maps of the foundational assets


Adam Cole
Natural resources policy specialist

Outdoor Recreation Inventory

The Outdoor Recreation Inventory map and dashboard includes information on more than 23,000 outdoor recreation areas, facilities, trails, and water access sites. It is used to understand the quantity and distribution of key outdoor recreation opportunities across the state. The dashboard also includes a service area analysis for outdoor recreation opportunities, such as accessing a local park or trail. 

Off-Road Vehicles

Outdoor Recreation Equity Grant Program

In 2021, the Legislature directed RCO to review some of its recreation and conservation grant programs. The goals of the review were to identify opportunities to improve equitable distribution of recreation funding and identify barriers that prevent underserved communities from participating or being successful in RCO programs. The review provides numerous findings gathered through research and community solicited feedback and recommendations on how the agency can address inequities.

Read the report

Trails Database for Planners

The Washington State Trails Database project website compiles data from state and local agencies and their partners responsible for building and maintaining trails. The database provides a comprehensive picture of multi-modal trail systems, which may be used to identify trail gaps, plan trail connections, and prioritize funding to improve access to Washington State trails.

Governor’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation

Gov. Jay Inslee established the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation through Executive Order 14-01 to develop an action plan and recommendations to manage, transform, better leverage, or develop Washington’s outdoor recreation assets and state programs to increase outdoor recreation activities as well as promote the jobs and business associated with outdoor recreation.

From April through September 2014, the 29 task force members journeyed around the state, listened to hundreds of people who took time out of their busy lives to show up and speak, and read thousands of comments submitted by e-mail and through an online town hall. The task force submitted its final report to the Governor in September, and the advisory process expired December 31, 2014.