Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Outfitting and dude ranch big business in Montana

It’s not unusual for tourism-related businesses to combine services, such as the dude ranch stays, pack trips and guided hunting trips offered by JJJ Wilderness Ranch out of Augusta, said Norma Nickerson, director of the Institute for Tourism & Recreation Research at the University of Montana. Providing a blend of related offerings, which all revolve at least partly on providing horses for riding and pack trips, “allows such businesses to be a little less seasonal,” she said. “They also get a different clientele in the summer enjoying dude ranch activities or scenic pack trips than those who might relish hunting trips in the fall.” Those sorts of services – dude ranches, pack trips and outfitter-guided hunts – are common throughout Montana and contribute a lot to state and local economies, Nickerson said. There are about 550 active licensed outfitters in Montana, split between hunting and fishing roles, with some doing both, he said. They employ an estimated 1,600 seasonal guides, with many of those spending the rest of the year in such roles as teachers, college students and even winter ski instructors...more

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