HELENA, Mont. – Governor Bullock joined local Whitefish residents and representatives from the Montana Department of Commerce and Montana State Parks to cut the ribbon on a new economic investment at Whitefish Lake State Park. New bicycle touring campsites at State Parks like Whitefish Lake will strengthen Montana’s growing tourism economy.
“Montana continues to attract thousands of bicyclists from across the world to enjoy or public lands and wide open spaces,” said Governor Steve Bullock. “These new bicycle campsites provide one more way for both Montanans and our out of state visitors to enjoy our state and continue to contribute to our strong and growing economy.”
The construction of bicycle campsites at Whitefish Lake State Park, Flathead Lake State Park-Wayfarers Unit, Placid Lake State Park and Salmon Lake State Park, were funded by a landmark interagency agreement with the Montana Department of Commerce as a way to address the growing popularity of bicycle touring in Montana.
In 2014, a study by Dr. Norma Nickerson of the University of Montana’s Institute for Tourism Recreation Research titled “Bicycle Tourism: Providing Economic Development Opportunities for Montana,” showed that non-resident bicycle tourists spend more every day and spend more days in Montana than the average non-resident visitor.” The average trip expenditure for a non-resident bike tourist is 42% more than the average non-resident visitor.
The Governor’s Main Street Montana Project encouraged state agencies to collaborate and solve problems creatively. Using Dr. Nickerson’s research as a starting point, the Montana Department of Commerce and Montana State Parks started a discussion about how they could work together to add bicycle tourist amenities and infrastructure to state parks across Montana. The result of this collaboration is a multi-year Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies to locate bicycling campsites at State Park properties located near existing cross country cycling routes. The two agencies worked collaboratively with each other and with Adventure Cycling Association, whose international headquarters are located in Missoula, to identify potential campsites.