County celebrates opening of new UTV/ATV campground to grow off-road tourism

The opening of 10 new campsites specifically designed for side-by-side and ATV trail riders is yet another step forward in one county’s goal to increase its off-road tourism business.

Power Pac Equipment, a dealership in Marshfield, Wisconsin, helped to guide the opening of the new campsites in nearby Pittsville (Wood County). Is your county interested in growing its off-road tourism business? Can your shop spearhead the efforts?

The ribbon cutting in Pittsville’s Dexter Park comes three months after announcing 42 miles of new on-road routes and 7 miles of off-road trails for UTV/ATV use in June.

“The new campsites and routes demonstrate Wood County’s continued commitment to growing off-road tourism,” says Scott Larson, Executive Director, Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “It’s a growing trend throughout the state and, with UTV registrations approaching the 400,000 range nationally, we must take advantage of the trend and cater to it in order to bring visitors to our area.”

The new campsites in Dexter Park are located just off the Pittsville-area trails and are designed specifically for ATV/UTV riders with room for off-loading equipment and easy access to trails. The new sites and routes are a welcome change for local business owners as side-by-side use continues to grow in Central and Northern Wisconsin.

“Our UTV lines have seen a steady increase over the last five years and are now the top-selling piece of powersports equipment for us,” says Josh Witt, co-owner of Power Pac Equipment and Motorsports in Marshfield. “The vehicles give folks access to scenic, remote locations and the pastime spans multiple age groups. The opening of more roads and trails for UTV and ATV use is a great step forward for local economies.”

The new Wood County routes were strategically designed to connect to existing mainline routes and trails, thereby linking to adjacent counties. The goal: bring new traffic, visitors and dollars through the area.

“A study from the County Highway and Planning Departments estimated the economic impact of the new trails and routes to be around $355 to $427 per rider from visitors to Wood County,” says Matt McLean, Director, Marshfield Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Not only are these developments a great asset for people that enjoy the sport, but they will invigorate local businesses by increasing traffic from a previously under-tapped group of visitors and consumers.”

A 2011 case study of the Cheese County Trail that spans Green, Lafayette and Iowa Counties in southern Wisconsin found that the total combined spending of all trail users exceeded $15 million during the 12-month study. Non-local trail users spending accounted for over $13 million of that amount. A similar 2015 study in Jackson county estimated non-county trail users’ expenditures to be between $7.6 million and $9.2 million annually.

“These aren’t small numbers that we are talking about,” says Mandy Witt, co-owner and CMO, Power Pac. “This type of tourism will do real things for our local economies and it’s an innovative approach to strategic development. Central Wisconsin can no longer be seen as a ‘drive through’ area on the way to the Northwoods. We applaud Wood County for seeing this vision and working to continue its growth.”

Wood County, local chambers and convention & visitors bureaus, ATV clubs and local businesses celebrated the opening of the ATV/UTV campsites at a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday at Dexter Park. Power Pac of Marshfield provided demo UTVs for attendees to use to help folks experience the local trails and businesses first-hand.

“It was a great afternoon for celebrating what these developments will mean for the county,” says Larson. “We hope to partner with businesses like Power Pac and others in the area who see the value of growth and strategic planning like this and bring more routes closer to our area.”

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