Economic Impact and Importance of Snowmobiling in Idaho

Benefits studied:
Uses studied:
Place: Idaho counties


Across Idaho, the counties with the most snowmobile use and associated spending on trips are the counties with the best access to snowmobile trails. Spending on equipment, which is highly lucrative, happens mostly in population centers and not in the destination communities.


This study is relevant to those interested in understanding how the economic impact of snowmobiling is distributed across a rural western state. Most spending on equipment is concentrated in the population centers and most trip-related spending occurs in counties with the most access to snowmobile trails.

This study also provides useful details on multipliers (how each dollar spent in the county translates into jobs and income) and how they differ across counties, highlighting how some communities are more able to amplify the value of snowmobiling-related dollars spent.

The county-level economic impact estimates may have included spending by county residents, which would overstate the value of snowmobiling as this does not represent new money coming to the county. Similarly, the statewide estimates include spending only by Idaho households, and does not represent new economic activity in the state.


This study considers all counties in Idaho.

Trail Type

This study addressed snowmobiling trails.


The purpose of this study is to estimate the economic impact of snowmobiling in Idaho, to help prioritize and allocate public investments in snowmobile trails.

This study was funded by a grant from the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation.


  • Of the 190,675 snowmobiling trips taken in 2015, 85% were day trips.
  • The counties with the most snowmobile use are those that have the best access to snowmobile trails. The top three counties for day trips were Fremont, Valley, and Bonner counties. Fremont, Valley, and Elmore counties are the top destinations for overnight trips.
  • Valley, Fremont, and Ada counties are the top three in terms of spending on snowmobiling equipment and trip-related spending. Most spending in Valley and Fremont counties is associated with trips (e.g., fuel, lodging, food) while spending in Ada is mostly on equipment.


The authors surveyed 86% (15,452) of the 18,023 households that live in Idaho and registered snowmobiles for recreational use in Idaho in 2015. They had a procedure to ensure that less populous counties would be represented, sampling 65% of households in a county. In counties with fewer than 1,000 households, they sampled 100% of households.

Households completed a survey reporting the number and location of trips and spending on each trip. The authors provide detailed steps for calculating total estimated trips and spending based on responses to the survey data.


Black, G., M. Fragkias, Z. Hansen, D. Holley, R. Humphrey, S. Lowe. 2017. Economic Impact and Importance of Snowmobiling in Idaho. Boise, ID: Department of Economics, College of Business & Economics, Boise State University.