Outdoor Recreation Resources

Outdoor recreation and tourism go hand-in-hand in Montana. Residents and visitors alike value the abundance of opportunities the state has to offer for enjoying the outdoors throughout the year. Below are some resources that provide information and context of the importance of outdoor recreation to Montana as well as other states.

Montana & Outdoor Recreation

image of infographic highlighting economic impact of outdoor recreation in montana

By the Numbers - Business for Montana's Outdoors

"Montana's economy and future depends on our outdoor assets"

Montana's Outdoor Economy - Montana Department of Labor & Industry

Montana’s mountains, rivers, plains, and lakes offer ample recreation opportunities for residents and visitors. Whether people camp, hike, ski, hunt, fish, float, or bike, they contribute to the “outdoor economy” by spending money and interacting with businesses. This month’s article explores Montana’s outdoor recreation economy: the activities people pursue, the places they recreate, and how recreation has changed over the past two years since the COVID pandemic

Understanding Visitor Recreation Experiences on Montana's Public Lands - ITRR

The grandeur of Montana’s public lands attracts visitors from all over the world who want to experience the beautiful parks, wilderness, wildlife, and waters. Montana is ranked 10th in the nation in federal land ownership, with about 30% or 27 million acres, followed by state agencies that manage a little over 5 million acres. Moreover, Montana is the gateway to the iconic Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks.

Snowmobile Recreation in Western Montana - ITRR

ITRR conducted surveys of snowmobilers in Western Montana to understand the profile and general characteristics of this user group.

Recreate Responsibly: Montanans' Confidence & Perceptions When Recreating Outdoors - ITRR

This report is a summary of Montana residents and their self-reported level of confidence in the outdoors as well as their perception of others' abilities while recreating. In 2021, there was a collaborative effort amongst tourism partners and public land agencies to reach out to the public with an initiative designed to provide resources to residents and non-residents on how to properly behave while recreating on Montana's public lands. The Recreate Responsibly campaign aimed to provide guidelines for responsible action, incorporating such topics as aquatic invasive species, leave no trace principles, and physical distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outdoor Recreation in the United States

US BEA map showing states' Outdoor Recreation percentage of GDP

The Outdoor Recreation Economy by State - Headwaters Economics

The outdoor recreation economy is a significant and growing contributor to the U.S. economy, as measured by the Outdoor Recreation Satellite Account (ORSA), produced by the Bureau of Economic Analysis of the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

  •  Outdoor Recreation Roundtable 2022 Annual Report highlights the group's efforts to support and grow the outdoor recreation economy nationwide. 

Outdoor Recreation Roundtable annual report cover


The Amenity Trap: How high-amenity communities can avoid being loved to death - Headwaters Economics

More than ever, people are visiting and moving to places with inspiring natural amenities: forests, lakes, beaches, trails, and wildlife. A new report from Headwaters Economics explores the unique challenges facing amenity communities, and some of the solutions underway across the country.

Innovative new ways to count outdoor recreation - Headwaters Economics

We know that outdoor recreation is a large and growing part of our economy, as described by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and evidenced by the many state offices of recreation. But what we don’t know is: How much recreation is happening, and where is it happening?

In this study, we examine the potential of novel data sources—fitness tracking apps, social media, and web browser data—to estimate how much recreation is happening. We developed a new, highly accurate statistical model to estimate and predict trail use through novel data. This information can help land agencies better manage outdoor recreation and help local communities better capitalize on its economic potential.

Recreation Economy for Rural Communities - U.S. EPA

Outdoor activities are increasingly popular across the United States, and so many communities are seeking to grow their outdoor recreation economy and tourism, while investing in their main streets and conserving forests and natural lands. Encouraging growth on main streets while promoting outdoor recreation can help foster community revitalization, protect air and water quality, create jobs and support economic diversification, and offer new opportunities for people to connect with the natural world. 

UPEP Policy Brief #1: Utahns Support State Spending for Outdoor Recreation - Community and Natural Resources Institute, Utah State University

Do Utahns actually support state investments in outdoor recreation? And is outdoor recreation an important component of Utahns’ lifestyle? The 2023 Utah People and Environment Poll (UPEP) gathered data to answer these questions and provide insight into which outdoor recreation investments would be most supported by Utahns.