The Economic Impact of the South Dakota Snowmobiling Industry

South Dakota’s snowmobile trail system is maintained without any contribution from general fund dollars, but brings substantial economic activity into the state. This study estimates the magnitude of that economic activity and its effect on the overall state economy.

by University of South Dakota


The Economic Impact of the SD Snowmobiling Industry 2012


South Dakota’s vast wilderness and heavy snows are a tantalizing combination for snowmobile enthusiasts. Thousands of riders from within the state and across the country are attracted to South Dakota’s ample snow, miles of groomed trails, and pristine scenery.

The economic activity generated by snowmobiling is substantial. South Dakota’s snowmobiling opportunities inject money into the state economy both by bringing in out-of-state visitors and by encouraging residents to spend their recreational dollars within the state. Their spending directly supports hotels, restaurants, gaming, and other tourism related industries, and provides revenue to South Dakota snowmobile retailers. There are also secondary impacts as these industries purchase goods and services and employ workers, who subsequently use that money in supporting other aspects of the state economy.

This report aims to quantify the impact that the snowmobiling industry has on the state. Using data collected from residents, non-residents, and snowmobile retailers and distributors, we construct a dynamic regional economic model to estimate this impact. Whenever necessary, we have used conservative assumptions so as to provide a reasonable lower bound for the true impact of the industry.

We begin with a description of the groups that work together to provide the extensive trail system that supports South Dakota snowmobiling: The South Dakota Snowmobile Trails Program, administered by the Game, Fish and Parks Department – Division of Parks and Recreation, the Governor’s Snowmobile Advisory Council, and the South Dakota Snowmobile Association, and the USDA Black Hills National Forest Service. We then summarize the collected survey data, describe the economic impact model, discuss the results, and conclude with a brief summary.

Published January 01, 2012

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