Great Outdoors Month® 2023

Governors play a crucial role in supporting outdoor recreation by implementing policies aimed at promoting and enhancing recreational opportunities.

Every June, Americans across the country get outside during Great Outdoors Month®. Beyond the health benefits —  promoting physical activity, reducing stress, and providing opportunities for relaxation – outdoor recreation also provides significant economic benefits to local communities and the national economy.

GDP for the outdoor recreation economy increased 18.9% in 2021, with outdoor recreation providing over 4.5 million jobs, according to recent U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data. Real gross output – a broader measure of all economic activity generated – for the outdoor recreation economy was even more significant, totaling $862 billion in 2021.

“Great Outdoors Month allows us to celebrate the partnership of government agencies, tribal nations, recreation and tourism industries, educators, volunteers, and others that make outdoor opportunities possible for everyone to enjoy.”

Governor Tim Walz

The economic benefits of outdoor recreation in the United States extend beyond direct spending — creating jobs, supporting small businesses, boosting tourism, and contributing to regional development.

Outdoor recreation is a major driver of tourism and visitor spending. Many people travel to different regions of the country to hike, camp, fish, ski, see wildlife, and more. These visitors spend money on accommodations, dining, transportation, recreational equipment, and other goods and services, which directly contributes to the local economies. This activity often benefits small businesses, including local outfitters, gear rental shops, adventure tour operators, and restaurants near recreational areas. These businesses thrive on the presence of outdoor enthusiasts and visitors, generating income and employment opportunities within the community.

“Outdoor recreation is an important part of Virginia’s economy and key to furthering the Commonwealth’s position as a top destination on the East Coast. The projects developed from the DRIVE Outdoor program will spur job creation, private investment, and endless opportunities for outdoor-focused partnerships.”

Governor Glenn Youngkin

The proximity of recreational areas, parks, and natural landscapes can enhance property values in surrounding communities, and outdoor recreation can play a vital role in regional development and revitalization efforts. Areas that invest in outdoor recreational infrastructure and amenities often experience increased tourism, new business development, and a diversification of their local economy.

By preserving and expanding outdoor recreational opportunities, communities can continue to reap economic rewards while enjoying the numerous health and social benefits provided by the great outdoors.

Governors play a crucial role in supporting outdoor recreation by implementing policies aimed at promoting and enhancing recreational opportunities. Many states have dedicated offices or agencies that focus on outdoor recreation. These entities are responsible for coordinating and promoting outdoor recreational activities within the state. They work with local communities, businesses, and organizations to develop and implement plans that enhance outdoor recreation opportunities. 

“The Maine outdoors is one of our greatest treasures. At a time when devices and screens too often grab the attention of our kids, getting them outside and connected to our state has never been more important.”

Governor Janet Mills

Ways that Governors, and other state leaders, support outdoor recreation include:

  • Establishing and maintaining parks, forests, wildlife areas, and other public lands
  • Investing in the development and maintenance of trails and greenways
  • Creating and prioritizing education and outreach programs to promote outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship
  • Convening and collaborating with federal agencies, local governments, nonprofits, businesses, and community organizations to leverage resources, share expertise, and coordinate efforts for the development and management of recreational areas
  • Ensuring public safety, protecting natural resources, and managing land use through rule and permitting systems and processes for activities such as hunting, fishing, boating, and off-road vehicle use. These regulations help maintain the sustainability of outdoor recreation and balance it with other land uses.

These efforts collectively contribute to the support and growth of outdoor recreation opportunities across the United States, driving economic growth through investments in the nation’s outdoor economy.

“With the Natural State Initiative, we are expanding access for all Arkansans and our visitors to unparalleled natural beauty and world-class outdoor adventure — sharing our story with the world. Come join us!”

Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders

For more information on Governors’ work in supporting and promoting outdoor recreation please visit NGA’s outdoor recreation page or contact