Study Reveals Montanans Holiday Travel Plans and Activities

May 20, 2019

MISSOULA – Nearly one-third (291,000) of all Montanans will travel over the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend, and 43% (358,000) plan to travel over the Fourth of July, according to a recent study by the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana.     

Seven percent will travel out of state for Memorial Day weekend, 13% will travel within 50 miles from home but stay in Montana, and 15% will travel in-state more than 50 miles from home.

More people will travel for the Fourth of July. Nine percent will travel out of state, 15% within 50 miles from home, and 19% more than 50 miles from home but still in Montana. 

The study asked what recreation activities Montanans would participate in during the two holidays – specifically whether they were staying at home or traveling. Both holidays appear to be very family oriented. Over Memorial Day weekend, 39% will be with family and friends. Forty-six percent will spend the Fourth of July with family and friends.

Over Memorial Day weekend, 16% of Montanans will fish, 14% will camp, 13% picnic and 11% will hike. Many respondents, however, named supplementary activities that ITRR did not include on the survey, with “work” topping the list.

“This is the first time we conducted a survey of this kind,” said Norma Nickerson, ITRR director. “We are interested in starting our own ‘AAA-type’ travel survey, but by only asking about recreational activities, we left many people out. For many Montanans, their activity is work, and it was mentioned frequently for both holidays. This has been a good reminder to us, and others, that holidays are not all about recreation.”

Another activity mentioned by a substantial number of Montanans for the Memorial Day weekend was to honor our fallen servicemen and women.

“It was encouraging to see that many Montanans will visit cemeteries and participate in Memorial Day events,” she said. 

Results showed that more Montanans will participate in recreation activities over July Fourth than Memorial Day weekend. As many as one-fourth of Montanans will attend special events like parades and festivals, along with picnicking (22%), fishing (19%), camping (19%), rafting/floating/motorboating (15%) and hiking (14%). Still, spending time with family and friends was at the top. 

The ITRR study surveyed 3,542 Montanans age 18 and older who were intercepted at gas stations and rest areas throughout the state April 1 through May 15.

More information on the study is available at  All information and reports published by ITRR are available online at


Contact: Norma Nickerson, director, UM Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research, 406-243-2328,