The Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana has never conducted a survey like this before, about plans that Montanans might, or might not have, for the Memorial Day weekend.

Director Norma Nickerson explained.

“We have not done this before,” said Nickerson. “Triple A does it, so why don’t we give it a try? We have 10 surveyors that are all around the state and they either talk to nonresidents or Montana residents. So, the idea came to us ‘why don’t we try to predict how many people are going to be traveling?’ Not necessarily where they’re going to go but how many and what they plan to do over the Memorial Day weekend.”

Nickerson said the results of the survey were surprising, in that how few people actually said they would be traveling over the holiday weekend.

“For Montanans over the Memorial Day weekend, 64 percent said they didn’t have any plans at the time we asked them,” she said. “We still had seven percent that said they would be traveling out of state, 13 percent who said they would travel but within 50 miles of their homes, and then another 15 percent said they would travel within the state but travel more than 50 miles from home.”

Putting those percentages into numbers, 58,000 adults will travel out of state, 108,000 will travel within 50 miles of home and 125,000 will travel more than 50 miles, but stay in Montana.

“But that still leaves over 532,000, over half a million adults in Montana that don’t have travel plans,” 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, fishing, camping, rafting/floating/motor boating and hiking. Still, spending time with family and friends was at the top.