An Economic Evaluation of Snowmobiling in Maine

Benefits studied: ,
Uses studied:
Place: Statewide


This study found that snowmobilers in Maine generate large annual expenditures, and increased expenditures observed over a two-year period are due largely to a dramatic increase in non-resident snowmobilers. This growth is attributed to more active state- and local-level promotion as well as a good snow year in Maine relative to other regions.


This study’s findings may be of interest to states or regions considering the benefits of increasing their marketing to non-residents. While this study has interesting findings, the two years of data do not represent long-term trends.


The study covers trails statewide in Maine.

Trail Type

The study analyzes expenditures associated with riding on Maine’s groomed snowmobile trail network, which is 14,000 miles long according to the Maine Snowmobile Association.


This study is an update to an original study conducted for the 1995-1996 season, designed to show the size of snowmobiling’s economic impact and identify any trends. It was commissioned by the Maine Snowmobile Association, which was in the process of proposing new snowmobiling programs in the state legislature.


  • Non-resident snowmobile registrations increased by 71 percent over two years.
  • Resident snowmobile registrations increased by 4 percent over two years.
  • Snowmobilers spent $176 million on snowmobile-related expenses during the 1997-1998 season, an increase of 16 percent from the previous season. This increase is attributed to more non-resident snowmobilers, drawn by increased promotion of the state within the region and poor snow in other regions.
  • Communities increased their own spending on trail maintenance and promotion from $37,000 in 1995-1996 to $550,000 in 1997-1998, suggesting they are aware of snowmobiling’s economic development potential.


Because these findings are based on the original 1995-1996 study, methods for both study years are described here.

For the 1995-1996 study, the author conducted three surveys: resident snowmobilers; non-resident snowmobilers who registered their snowmobiles in Maine; and New Hampshire snowmobilers who can snowmobile in Maine without registering their machines. Respondents were asked to describe snowmobiling-related expenses. The author used data from state agencies for the total number of snowmobilers, and from the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association for annual expenditures on new snowmobiles.

For the 1997-1998 study, the author updated the number of registered resident and non-resident snowmobiles, and the number and average price of new snowmobiles purchased. The author assumed that per-user expenditures did not differ substantially in two years.


Reiling, S. 1999. An Economic Evaluation of Snowmobiling in Maine. University of Maine Department of Resource Economics and Policy.