Montana Public Radio


A rising, though still relatively small, number of Montanans hold negative perceptions toward tourism, according to an update to a University of Montana report released Friday.

UM’s Institute of Tourism and Recreation Research says survey data from November and December indicate a majority of Montana residents believe the overall benefits of tourism outweigh the negative impacts and that tourism promotion by the state benefits their local economies.

The outdoor recreation economy is the second largest sector of Montana’s economy, generating $7.1B in annual consumer spending. 71,000 Montanans are employed in the sector, making its performance essential to the state’s full economic recovery. 

What has been the impact of COVID-19 on outdoor recreation and tourism? What response within the industry has been successful? What does 2021 look like for this essential part of the Montana economy? Learn more now on Can Do.

Downtown Whitefish, MT.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Montana lawmakers will once again consider a bill that would allow for a local option sales tax. It’s a policy that’s been seen and rejected in past years at the state Legislature, amid a long-running debate over how to make the most of tourism dollars and tax locals fairly.

Glacier National Park sign.
Nicky Ouellet / Montana Public Radio

Over 125,000 visitors entered Glacier National Park in October. Park officials say that’s a 60 percent increase in visitation numbers over the same time last year. 

Signs warning about activity restrictions on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation due to the COVID-19 pandemic stand on all roadway entrances to the reservation, September 2020.
Rob Chaney / The Missoulian

Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana is one of the most-visited parks in the country. But this summer, the Blackfeet Nation made the unprecedented call to close the park’s eastern entrances in hopes of keeping COVID-19 off its reservation.

Victor Yvellez brings us this look at the economic fallout of the tribe’s decision.

Business owners in one of Yellowstone National Park’s most popular gateway communities say the peak summer season has been busier than ever with more visitors. At the same time, a shortage of workers is affecting how many tourism dollars they can rake in.

At Tumbleweed Books and Cafe in Gardiner, people line up to order smoothies and iced coffees. Owner Anna Holloway finishes wrapping an egg burrito and takes a quick break.

“This is hands down the busiest summer I’ve seen in the 15 years that I’ve lived here and the 12 years that I’ve owned the Tumbleweed,” Holloway said.

Canoe paddles

For the first time in the 75-year history of Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp, the paddles that propel canoes, kayaks and paddleboards around the lake are clean. After every outing, used paddles are placed in the oar equivalent of a laundry hamper, wiped down and sanitized.

Glacier National Park's Logan Pass Visitor Center on a busy summer day.
Tom Westbrook (CC-BY-NC-ND-2.0)

Glacier National Park officials have decided against putting in place a reservation system for Going-to-the-Sun Road.

Earlier this month, Glacier Superintendent Jeff Mow held a series of meetings to discuss the idea of a reservation system for the park’s main attraction, Going-to-the-Sun Road.

This undated photo show Red's Blue Goose Saloon in Gardiner, MT. The saloon was destroyed due to a July 15, 2020, fire, along with several other buildings in the town.

A fire destroyed several businesses in the Yellowstone National Park gateway town of Gardiner, just six weeks after Montana entrances to the park reopened from a closure prompted by the novel coronavirus.

The Tuesday fire destroyed the Two Bit Saloon, Yellowstone Raft Co., Rosie’s Bistro and Red's Blue Goose Saloon, officials said.

Montana’s Democratic candidate for governor today unveiled a plan he says will protect public lands and access to them.

Current Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney’s “Protect the Last Best Place” plan doesn’t include new proposals but instead reiterates support for existing state programs, laws and policies, like those related to stream access.