Tourism & Outdoor Recreation

Where Trail Meets Trade

From the prairies of eastern Colorado to the high peaks along the Continental Divide, Colorado provides a diverse landscape for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, backpacking, rafting, camping, mountain biking, hunting and more.

The appeal of the state’s abundant outdoors shows: Colorado is #1 in the nation for overnight ski visits and it ranks 8th in the country for outdoor overnight trips.

While the natural surroundings is certainly a draw, the secret ingredient behind Colorado’s prowess at bringing visitors back is the companies who have made it their priority to ensure that guests leave with an energized opinion of the state.

Trust us, this isn’t an easy feat. Not only does the altitude surprise people, but not everyone can manage a ski lift or paddle like they once could. Our state’s large pool of talented, skilled workers have been trained by the best and the brightest to navigate these sticky situations and keep people happy, healthy and safe.

But don’t just assume that it’s visitors and residents who are the only beneficiaries of these miles of trails, national parks, family attractions and conserved landscapes; companies in the outdoor recreation industry are leveraging Colorado’s nearly 67 million acres as testing ground for their products.

Take for instance Big Agnes and Honey Stinger, located in Steamboat Springs. With a simple idea to not only make great outdoor apparel and equipment, but also to provide healthy sports oriented trail food as well, they have gone on to become one of the largest primary employers in Steamboat. Big Agnes is just one of the many innovative companies in the state that are manufacturing and testing outdoor products including skis, snowboards, packs and apparel.

With the density of the companies, the natural assets found in the state and a workforce that is emboldened by the outdoors, Governor Hickenlooper launched the Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office (OREC) in 2015. OREC is one of only two offices in the nation that provides a central point of contact, advocacy, resources and support at the state level for the diverse constituents, businesses, communities and groups that rely on the continued health of the outdoor recreation industry.

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Luis Benitez Director, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
Cathy Ritter Director, Colorado Tourism Office

Key Facts & Figures


Outdoor Recreation firms



$6 Billion

Annual Payroll

$48.7 Million

Total Exports


of Coloradoans participate in some form of outdoor recreation every year


in the nation for overnight ski visits


in the nation for outdoor overnight trips

Success Story

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Major Employers

Luis Benitez Director, Colorado Outdoor Recreation Industry Office
Cathy Ritter Director, Colorado Tourism Office