Montana Recreational Snowmobiles

Fuel-Use and Spending Patterns 2013

The Bureau of Business and Economic Research’s most recent surveys suggest that about 8 percent of the state's households include snowmobile recreationists. Nearly always, the whole family participates. With an average household size of about 2.5, perhaps as many as 100,000 Montanans participate in the sport each winter.

by Bureau of Business and Economic Research, University of Montana

Nonresident snowmobilers are important contributors to the Montana economy. Many winter visitors to West Yellowstone, for instance, use snowmobiles. West Yellowstone has successfully promoted itself as “The Snowmobile Capitol of the World”. Since Yellowstone National Park instituted limits to snowmobiling inside the park, visitation has dropped. Nonresident snowmobilers still visit the area but have diversified their snowmobiling areas.

Our estimates suggest that nonresident snowmobilers spend about $147 per activity day, including food, lodging, and often, snowmobile rental costs. Nonresidents accounted for about 97,000 activity days during the 2013-2014 snowmobile season, spending an aggregate of nearly $14.3 million in Montana. That spending supports about 200 winter jobs.

On average, residents spend much less per activity day than non-residents ($56); most of their out-of-pocket costs are for gasoline. Resident yearly spending is about $96.3 million over half spent on gasoline for snowmobiles and transportation.

We estimate that resident and nonresident snowmobilers buy about 4.3 million gallons of gasoline per season. With a base tax of $0.27 per gallon, we estimate that snowmobilers in Montana generate over $1.2 million in revenue for the state highway trust fund.

Access to snowmobiling areas is a concern of Montana snowmobilers. They are also concerned about a lack of personal responsibility affecting access to some areas.

In short, snowmobiling is a popular, revenue-generating winter recreation for Montana. It is popular with a solid share of households in the state, and popular with nonresident tourists.

Attached document published July 2014

About the Author

The Bureau of Business and Economic Research is a research department within the College of Business at the University of Montana, Missoula. We produce a variety of economic and industry data including annual economic forecasts for the United States as well as Montana, its industries, and counties.

Webinars on YouTube that you might like

Three Ways to Estimate the Economic Impact of Trails and Outdoor Recreation

Jun 13, 2024

This webinar will introduce you to three ways to use research and data to estimate the economic effects of trails and outdoor recreation, plus provide an overview of how to quantify several other types of economic benefits.

Trails Are Rural Economic Drivers

Feb 22, 2024

This webinar will discuss many of the transformational results of a community investing fully in trails, give real-world examples of the benefits derived including and beyond tourism, and take a hard look at some of the pitfalls many communities experience in this transformational process of embracing trails

More resources in this category

Three Rivers Heritage Trail: 2024 Impact Assessment

posted Jun 30, 2024

The Three Rivers Heritage Trail has become vital to Pittsburgh’s identity by honoring the past while contributing to a healthier and more prosperous future.

Trail User Survey and Business Survey Report

posted Jun 12, 2024

In 2014 the Trail Town Program® conducted a trail user survey along the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP). The GAP Trail runs from Pittsburgh, PA to Cumberland, MD, spanning 150 miles. This trail is visited by almost a million users every year generating economic impact along the way. The trail itself is owned and operated by several local trail organizations and merge under one coalition known as the Allegheny Trail Alliance.

The Outdoor Recreation Economy

posted May 20, 2024

Outdoor recreation is among our nation's largest economic sectors, representing the lifeblood of thousands of American communities and providing livelihoods for millions of American workers.

2023 Economic Contribution of Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation in Colorado

posted Apr 24, 2024

Colorado offers unique opportunities for motorized recreation throughout much of the state. As such, the sport and industry of motorized recreation has increased in popularity in Colorado, both for residents and non-residents. Abt Global, LLC (Abt) evaluated the economic contribution of motorized recreation throughout Colorado for the 2022–2023 season (July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023). This study is an update based on a previously conducted study, completed in December 2016, that estimated the economic contribution for the 2014–2015 season, referred to as the “2016 study” in this report.

341 views • posted 08/14/2020