Mountains rank with beaches and metropolitan areas among the three most popular categories of tourist destinations.
Mountain regions attract tourists for their beauty, outdoor recreation, and serenity. Camping and skiing in mountain regions generate $5 billion and $6 billion, respectively, each year in the United States.
Small mountain towns are strong competition for tourism with major metropolitan areas. For example, Helen, with a population of 518, is the third most popular tourist destination in Georgia. Only Atlanta, with a metropolitan area population of 6.16 million, and Savannah (347,600 population) attract more people than the Bavarian-style village.
The following mountain towns have been recognized as among the most popular small town tourist destinations in the United States (sources: Forbes Travel, Frommer’s, Midwestern Living, and Rough Guides, USA Today, and various online sources):
Asheville, NC Aspen, CO Beaver Creek, CO Bend, OR Bishop, CA Boone, NC Boulder, CO Bozeman, MT Breckenridge, CO Catskill, NY Copper Mountain, CO Crested Butte, CO Dillon, MT Gatlinburg, TN Girdwood, AK Helen, GA Hood River, OR
Jackson, WY Keystone, CO Lake Placid, NY Lewisburg, WV Livingston, MT Manitou Springs, CO Moab, UT Montpelier, VT Saugerties, NY Steamboat Springs, CO Stowe, VT Talkeentna, AK Taos, NM Telluride, CO Vail, CO Wallace, ID Whitefish, MT
The following is an assessment of the economic impact of tourism in some of the mountain regions of the United States:
• According to The Economic Impact of Tourism in New York State, a report by the New York State Department of Economic Development (www.esd.ny.gov), tourists spend $1.1 billion in the Adirondacks each year.
Black Hills & Badlands
• According to a recent assessment by the Rapid City Convention and Visitors Bureau (www.visitrapidcity.com), tourism in the Black Hills, Badlands, and Lakes region has an $810 million economic impact for the state of South Dakota. Tourism supports
28.000 jobs in South Dakota, or one out of 11 jobs in the state.
MOUNTAIN DESTINATIONS in USA Photo Gallery
Blue Ridge Mountains
• A recent study by the National Park Service reported that visitors to the Blue Ridge Parkway spend $902 million annually in communities near the park. That spending supports 12,168 jobs in the local area. The Blue Ridge Parkway, which connects Shenandoah National Park to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, had
15.1 million visitors in 2015.
• A study commissioned by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development, Catskill Mountainkeeper, and Catskill Heritage Alliance assessed that outdoor recreation in the Catskills creates an annual economic impact of almost $115 million, with almost 2.5 million visitors, and supports 2,413 jobs.
Great Smoky Mountains
• The National Park Service assesses that Great Smoky Mountains National Park provides an economic hub generating over $718 million a year for surrounding tourist communities. The park received 10.7 million visitors in 2015.
• According to the Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau (www.800poconos.com), visitor spending by the 25 million people who visit the region totals $2.4 billion annually.
Southern Rocky Mountains [Colorado Rockies]
• According to Colorado Travel Impacts, a report by the Colorado Tourism Office (www.colorado.com), annual direct spending by overnight travelers in the mountains region of Colorado totals $3.4 billion. This region includes Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs, Telluride, Vail, and other ski resort areas. Spending by overnight travelers in the Pikes Peak region is an additional $1.2 billion.
46.4 Market Resources
Adirondack Regional Tourism Council, P.O. Box 911, Lake Placid, NY 12946. www.visitadirondacks.com
Appalachian Regional Commission, 1666 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700, Washington, DC 20009. (202) 884-7700. (www.visitappalachia.com)
Black Hills & Badlands Tourism Association, 1851 Discovery Circle, Rapid City, SD 57701. (www.blackhillsbadlands.com)
Blue Ridge Travel Association of Virginia, P.O. Box 1395, Wytheville, VA 24382. (www.virginiablueridge.org)
Catskill Mountainkeeper, P.O. Box 1000, Livingston Manor, NY 12758. (www.catskillmountainkeeper.com)
Great Smoky Mountains Association, P.O. Box 130, Gatlinburg, TN 37738.
(865) 436-7318. (www.smokiesinformation.org)
Northeast Georgia Mountains Travel Association, PO Box 464, Gainesville, GA 30503. (www.georgiamountains.org)
Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, 1004 Main Street, Stroudsburg, PA 18360.
(570) 421-5791. (www.800poconos.com)