Analysis of Touring Cyclists: Impacts, Needs and Opportunities for Montana

Benefits studied: ,
Uses studied: ,
Place: Statewide


This study found that cycle tourists in Montana spend an average of $76 per day and stay eight days in the state during their trip, much longer than the average tourist. Safety is cycle tourists’ top priority, so supporting more cycle touring in the state requires investments in safer routes, including narrower rumble strips, wider shoulders, and bike paths separate from roadways in high-traffic, high-speed areas.


To our knowledge, this is the only study that specifically addresses the economic impact and particular needs of cycle touring. The findings can be used to illustrate cycle tourists’ potential economic impact and the infrastructure and amenities needed to develop this market.


This study is statewide in Montana.

Trail Type

This study does not address specific trails, but evaluates cyclists who use designated touring routes both on- and off-road.


The purpose of this study is to better understand the touring cyclist market and the potential for developing cycle tourism in Montana, as well as to identify the most popular routes. Funding for this study was provided by Montana’s Lodging Facility Use Tax. It was conducted in cooperation with the Adventure Cycling Association, a non-profit cycle-touring organization.


  • The average cyclist touring in Montana spent $75.75 per person per day and spent eight nights in the state. One-third of respondents spent over ten nights in Montana on their most recent trip.
  • On-road cycle tourists spent an average of $73 per day, while off-road cycle tourists spent $108 per day.
  • Respondents’ ideal trip is long: only 5 percent preferred a trip shorter than five days. Five to seven days (29% of respondents) and at least 30 days (28% of respondents) were the most popular durations for ideal trips.
  • Cyclists were most satisfied with the hospitality of locals, historical sites, and local breweries. They were least satisfied with cell phone coverage, the width of shoulders on the road, and the availability of cycling equipment stores.
  • Six percent of respondents were from Montana, 8 percent were from outside the U.S., and the remaining 86 percent were from other states in the U.S.
  • One-third of respondents suggested that narrower rumble strips and broader shoulders would improve their trip. This was by far the most commonly-mentioned suggestion for how to improve cycle tourists’ experience. Respondents also mentioned the appeal of bike paths separate from the road in high-speed, high-traffic areas.
  • The lack of inexpensive, bicycle- or hiker-only campsites kept many respondents from spending time in cities.


Using email addresses for visiting cyclists and those who had purchased maps from the Adventure Cycling Association, the authors sent an online survey to 3,145 people, from which they received 718 completed surveys (23% response rate). Respondents were asked about multi-day trips in the previous three years and planned trips, routes they used, information sources for trip planning, areas visited, expenditures, satisfaction with different aspects of their tour, and demographics.


Nickerson, N., J. Jorgenson, M. Berry, J. Kwenye, D. Kozel, J. Schutz. 2013. Analysis of Touring Cyclists: Impacts, Needs and Opportunities for Montana. University of Montana College of Forestry and Conservation’s Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, Research Report 2013-17.