ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. — Outdoor recreation is helping Wyoming’s economy grow.

Wyoming Outdoor Recreation, Tourism and Hospitality’s 2023 report shows outdoor recreation in Wyoming contributed $1.5 billion, or 3.6 percent, to the state’s GDP. Visitors spent $4.3 billion dollars while traveling and recreating in Wyoming, which produced $259.2 million in travel-related tax revenue, a 60 percent increase from 2020 numbers. What’s more, approximately 15,285 jobs directly supported Wyoming’s outdoor recreation industry.

On March 6, 2023 Governor Gordon signed a bill creating the Wyoming Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Trust Fund. An initial six million dollars were placed into the fund. Currently, additional work is being done on how best to grow the initial investment and to determine the best process to decide which outdoor recreation projects will receive monies. “We have seen a hunger for visitors to experience Wyoming’s mountains, rivers and trails. This trust fund has the potential to create new opportunities for small businesses, focus visitation towards appropriate locations and enhance the quality of life for all Wyoming residents,” said Governor Gordon.

Western Wyoming Community College (Western) launched an innovative new program this fall to support this demand. Western’s Outdoor Recreation Program gives students interested in the outdoors the ability to pursue a variety of careers across numerous fields. 

The Outdoor Recreation degree can be completed in as little as two years as a full-time student. In the program, students will learn the necessary skills to teach, facilitate, plan and lead others in outdoor recreation experiences. The program is hands-on, applying knowledge from the classroom to the field. Coursework for the degree is diverse with classes ranging from Wilderness First Aid & Survival, Leave No Trace Training & Land Ethics, to Public Speaking and Applied Risk Management.  

Western also offers a Wilderness Skills certificate, which can be completed in one year. The certificate provides students with the ability to plan safe outdoor experiences in the backcountry, facilitate educational groups and manage risk in various outdoor settings. Part of the coursework includes training in wilderness first aid and Leave No Trace practices. 

Graduates in the degree or certificate will walk away with four nationally recognized certifications: NOLS Epinephrine Auto-Injector; NOLS Adult/Child/Infant CPR & AED, NOLS Wilderness First Aid and Leave No Trace Certificate. Coursework allows students to gain the necessary skills to succeed in jobs such as park rangers (state or national), park managers (state or national), outdoor recreation guides, camp counselors and more.  

To learn more about Western’s Outdoor Recreation program visit or contact Assistant Professor of Outdoor Recreation, Clemencia Caporale at 307-382-1711, or email