National Parks

U.S. National Parks

Western United States

Responsible strategies for needed visitor services.

Many of the nation’s most iconic national parks were originally developed by private stage coach and rail road companies, creating a relationship between parks and private concessions that has existed for over 150 years. Today, concessioners operating in U.S. National Parks gross well over $1 billion annually with revenue in Yosemite National Park exceeding $400,000,000.

Over several years, J. Richard Hill & Co. assisted the National Parks and Conservation Association in developing a complete understanding of the issues and economics of commercialism in eleven national parks. Among the many issues uncovered, it was found that use fees paid by the concessioners were often as low as 1.5% of gross revenue. These low rents had long been rationalized by the expense of operating in remote locations, the high cost of providing nonprofitable services, and the capital investments made in the facilities of the concessioners.

Research conducted by J. Richard Hill & Co. found that sales in the largest parks were highly profitable with limited competition and that many of the major assets had been fully depreciated. Rick Hill testified in senate and congressional hearings to present his findings and wrote significant portions of the Concession Reform Act, which was adopted in 1998.

Parks Studied: 11
Major National Parks Studied:  Yosemite, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Rocky Mountain
Yosemite Annual Visitors: 4,300,000+
Yosemite Economic Impact: $589,000,000