Oregon Snowmobiler Participation and Priorities

Uses studied:
Place: State-wide


Across Oregon, snowmobilers account for approximately 353,000 user days per year and $15 million in spending associated with snowmobile trips. Respondents are most concerned about the availability of backcountry, off-trail riding opportunities and sustaining access to existing riding areas.


This research is relevant for those interested specifically in snowmobiler preferences and spending. The economic impact estimates from non-local trail use represent new spending in the region; spending associated with local trail use does not represent new economic activity in the area. Because the study included only Oregon residents, the measured economic impact is not new money in the state.


This study addressed snowmobile recreation across Oregon.

Trail Type

The study considers snowmobile use on all public land across Oregon.


The purpose of this study is to provide detailed information about snowmobile use, user preferences, and snowmobile-related spending. This is one of four studies on specific uses. The others are: non-motorized trail, non-motorized boat, and motorized (ATV/OHV) recreation. This information will be used to inform the 2015-2024 Oregon Trails Plan.


This project was funded by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.


  • Across the state, the number of registered snowmobiles has declined since a high of 17,771 in 2006. The authors acknowledge the recession likely played a role in this decline, as has declining amounts of snow in the state.
  • Ninety-six percent of respondents had taken at least one day trip and 72 percent had taken at least one multi-day trip in the previous 12 months.
  • Respondents snowmobile an average of 26 days per year.
  • The median multi-day trip is three days long.
  • Respondents identify backcountry off-trail riding opportunities, parking availability, and trail grooming and maintenance as the top three factors affecting their decision where to ride.
  • Respondents are most interested in trails less than 100 miles long, with less interest in interconnected loop trails more than 100 miles long.
  • In addition to snowmobiling, respondents on multi-day trips also dine out and explore towns near snowmobile trails.
  • Respondents identified sustaining and expanding access as the greatest need for future funding, followed by ensuring backcountry off-trail snowmobiling and expanding the existing trail system.
  • Oregon snowmobilers spend about $212 per group, per trip on non-local day trips (more than 50 miles from home) and $650 on non-local multi-day trips. These expenditures are significantly higher than the national average of $147 for non-local day trips, but lower than the national average of $732 for non-local multi-day trips. The authors attribute these differences to more people per party but shorter than average multi-day trips.
  • The average expenditure per day is $55 on single day trips and $32 on multi-day trips. Multi-day trip expenditures are lower per day due to lower spending at restaurants and gas.


The authors distributed a web survey using a random sample of people with snowmobiles registered with the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. Survey respondents were older than the known average age of registered snowmobile owners, so the authors weighted responses from younger snowmobilers more heavily to ensure the sample is representative.

The authors use participation and expenditure data as inputs into IMPLAN, a regional economic model used to estimate economic impact.


Lindberg, K. and T. Bertone-Riggs. 2015. Oregon Snowmobiler Participation and Priorities. Salem, OR: Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.