It might seem like every other person in Colorado is hiking a fourteener on any given summer Saturday. While it might not actually be that crowded, the state’s highest peaks do count about 260,000 summit-scrambling trips every year.
All those feet headed to the 54 highest points in Colorado each year deliver $70.5 million in economic impact, with some hikers spending twice as much daily as a business traveler to Denver, according to the first study of the role fourteeners play in the state’s economy.
The most highly trafficked peaks closest to the Front Range deliver some of the biggest bumps, according to the hiking impact report compiled by the nonprofit Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, which works to protect and maintain trails reaching up the state’s highest mountains.
“I think now we have a much more compelling case to take to local governments and trailhead communities that benefit from all these fourteener hikers,” said Lloyd Athearn, the executive director of the 22-year-old Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. “There is a lot of money to be gained from people on these peaks, and just recognizing that helps us build these trails so we can continue to have these peaks as a great resource for people to come out and experience nature and find themselves and test themselves.”