Visiting a national park has more of an impact than one might think.

A new economic impact report from the National Park Service says that 678,261 visitors to both districts of Tucson’s Saguaro National Park helped boost the local economy by more than $41 million last year.

That report reflects only those accounted for. “These are the folks using the scenic drive or coming in through the visitors center,” said Andy L. Fisher, spokeswoman for Saguaro National Park. It doesn’t reflect some of the locals who enter the park through one of the remote access areas, she added.

On the state level, national park visitors spent more than $773 million, up from $745.6 million the previous year.

The peer-reviewed analysis was conducted by U.S. Geological Survey economists for the Park Service.

“This new report confirms that national park tourism is a significant driver in the national economy, returning $10 for every $1 invested in the National Park Service,” said Sue Masica, director of the service’s Intermountain Region, which includes Arizona and seven other states. “This reality makes parks tourism an important factor in Arizona’s economy as well.”

Among other findings, the Park Service also says:

  • The 4.6 million visitors to Grand Canyon National Park in 2013 spent $476 million and supported 6,238 local jobs.
  • Tumacácori National Historic Park, south of Tucson, had 31,400 visitors who spent $1.7 million in communities near the park, supporting 23 jobs in the local area.

Contact reporter Angela Pittenger at 573-4137 or