2022 Sets Record in Outdoor Recreation Participation

In 2022, the outdoor recreation participation base grew 2.3% to a record 168.1 million participants—55% of the U.S. population over the age of 6, according to the Outdoor Participation Trends Report from the Outdoor Industry Association and Outdoor Foundation. The report also found that the new participant base is becoming increasingly diverse in terms of ethnicity, race, age, and sexual and gender identity.

“For any business that wants to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace, understanding the evolving consumer base and how they choose to spend their time outdoors is essential knowledge,” said Kent Ebersole, president of OIA. “Industry growth is dependent on attracting and retaining the ‘core’ and increasingly diverse ‘casual’ participant through innovation, valued sustainability practices and pursuing policies for increasing equitable access to the outdoors for everyone.”

Key findings in the report include:

  • The participation rate for Hispanic people increased from 34% in 2015 to 56% in 2022, the highest participant growth rate for any single group.
  • The participation rate for Black people increased more than 5% in 2022 to 40.7%, the only group with increased average outings and the highest number of outings on average compared to any other ethnic or racial group.
  • LGBTQIA+ participants make up 11% of the participant base and are the most active of any adult cohort.
  • A significantly higher percentage of seniors are participating in outdoor recreation. At 35% of the base, seniors now represent one in every five outdoor participants.
  • Gateway activities, where new participants begin their outdoor recreation journey, continue to drive new entrant outings and frequency of participation.
    80% of outdoor activity categories experienced growth, including camping, fishing, sport climbing, skateboarding and hiking.
  • Record growth in the participant base does not translate to participation rates, which are down for the first time since the pandemic, especially amongst “core” and “youth” segments.

“The findings of this year’s report underpin the critical need for initiatives like Thrive Outside that seek to address outdoor equity barriers,” said Stephanie Maez, Outdoor Foundation executive director. “While the growth in ethnic and racial diversity in the participant base is encouraging, we must strive to do better. Outdoor participation should reflect the diversity of the U.S. population overall and currently, it does not.”

For more than 15 years, the report has served as a trusted and comprehensive source of insights and narratives around who’s doing what, when and how outdoors. The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Outdoor Industry Association, funds the research and publishes the findings in partnership with OIA every year.

The 2023 report reflects data gathered during the 2022 calendar year and garnered a total of 18,000 online interviews consisting of people ages 6 and older.