Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Geography & Environmental Studies


Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

John Lewis

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


During the 1960’s the snowmobile was adapted to be used as a recreational vehicle. The resulting use of this recreational machine put demands upon a valuable resource, recreational land, such that land-use conflicts have occurred. It is the assumption of this study that the snowmobile will continue to be utilized as a recreational machine. Therefore the study assumed that eventually, it would be necessary to plan and provide designed, safe snowmobile sites and facilities for recreational use, particularly in Southern Ontario where demand is greatest.

The study attempted to fulfill four objectives. The first objective was to determine the behavioral patterns and preferences of snowmobile users for certain landscape characteristics and man-made facilities within snowmobile areas. Secondly, the study was initiated to analyze the use patterns of snowmobiles within the study area. The third objective was to determine the socio-economic characteristics of snowmobile operators. Lastly, once the first three objectives were completed, then the study attempted to develop a set of snowmobile criteria that would be recognized as only one decision-making input into the development of future snowmobile sites and facilities in Southern Ontario.

Snowmobilers and snowmobile sites and facilities within the study area were investigated by means of a questionnaire and also by on-site observation. Snowmobiling was considered to be a system. In an attempt to understand and explain the factors and their interrelationships within the system, the systems approached was utilized. The resulting components of the snowmobiling system were; the activity of snowmobiling, the snowmobilers and the facilities used by the snowmobile operators. The analysis of the components of the system and their interrelationships resulted in the determination of preferences of snowmobile users for various snowmobile site characteristics. These resulting preferences showed a want for; wooded marked trails, sparse deciduous and coniferous vegetation, rolling terrain, and designed snowmobile areas located in proximity to the major snowmobiling population of Southern Ontario. Preferences are not reliable unless past experience of the individual giving the preference is investigated. Hence all the results of the study were analyzed in terms of the past experiences of the snow-mobilers themselves. The derived site criteria was then evaluated by applying it to existing and potential snowmobile sites within Southern Ontario.

It is anticipated that the methodology and results developed in the thesis will aid resource managers and private developers with the aspect of their decision-making process that centers upon the planning of future snowmobile areas. This aspect, that of realizing the preferences of recreational participants, is a vital input into the process of making future recreational land development decisions and plans.

Convocation Year