The Impact of the Backcountry in 2016: From Individuals to the Masses

The Impact of the Backcountry in 2016: From Individuals to the Masses

The Impact of the Backcountry in 2016: From Individuals to the Masses


When it comes to the outdoors, it’s nothing to mess with. The land around us, or the little of it there is left, anyway, is so precious to mankind. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to breathe, drink water, eat, and ultimately survive. Sure, there’s a lot of debate about how much we’re actually helping. But, it’s clear that those who spend time outside and show a little appreciation for the backcountry, are much more likely to give back. The mere fact that one person can raise so much awareness to their outdoor community is all we need to start a chain reaction of ‘contributing’ enthusiasts.

The outdoors has become such an intricate part of everyday life. Despite the fact that we tend to think people are stuck inside now, the numbers actually reveal quite the opposite. And, important people are starting to take notice.

hiking, outdoors, impact on the backcountry, 2016

The Growing Impact of the Backcountry on The People

While we don’t have all the numbers in yet, we do have some information regarding this year’s statistics. In 2015, we saw a record number of visitors to the national parks. And, just as we predicted, that number increased this year, as well. Not just at national parks, either, but also on the trails. According to, this year has shown a major increase in thru-hikers (on the AT). Take a look at the charts. It’s clear how many more people have hit the trail this year than the last. And, we can only expect that number to grow in years to come.

Just this small look at the statistics tells us how serious the outdoor world is to people. Whether they hike the occasional trail, spend a weekend camping in a national forest or plan months in advance for a thru-hike, it means something to us all.

And, apparently, the number of individuals positively impacted over time has added up. So much so, that the U.S government has finally taken notice this year.

impact on the backcountry, hiking, outdoors, 2016

The Growing Impact of the Backcountry on the Masses

Just a few weeks ago, we found out that the outdoor industry does much more than just help out adventure-seeking individuals. It’s actually become much more than that. The Denver Post recently reported that for the first time ever, the outdoor industry has been included in the nation’s GDP. By outdoor industry, we mean any company or organization that’s involved in making retail, outdoor gear, or providing recreation. And, it’s official. After the Senate approved a bill include to include the outdoor industry in the annual GDP tally, soon we will start to see the real impact of the backcountry. Not just on the individual, but on the masses.

This bill is known as the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act, which was put into play by Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. For a long time, the outdoors, specifically national parks, were known as “America’s Best Idea.” But, now we can see that this “idea” has really taken off. 2017 will be the year of finally seeing how much this industry does for our economy, and of course, for the individuals who pay for it.

outdoors, hiking, impact of the backcountry, 2016

The Cold, Hard Outdoor Facts

Hopefully, all this news will mean great things for good-doers who want to put more money into the preservation of the parks and the experiences of those who want it. After all, according to the Outdoor Industry Association, Americans drop $646 billion a year on outdoor recreation. That’s not including those who come under the tourism branch of the GDP. But, we’re excited to see outdoor recreation now in its own monetary category.

Needless to say, it’s been a really great year for the backcountry. Now you know when you buy something at an outdoor store, you’re really making a difference. Let’s see what else will happen with the outdoor industry as more and more of us get outside.

hanalarock I'm Hana- a freelance travel writer and teacher who currently lives in South Korea. I'm originally from New York, but have spent the last two years traveling and living abroad. My first time hiking in the US was when I traveled around the country as a teenager. Though, my first adult backpacking trip was a year ago, when I hiked from Thailand down to Singapore for a month. I'm looking forward to many more adventures in the future. Visit my site for more information.