Title: The effect of use density and length of stay on visitor experience in wilderness
Author: Cole, David N.; Hall, Troy E.
Source: In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 77-95.
Description: We assessed the degree to which visitor experiences vary between (1) very high use and moderate use places and (2) day users and overnight users. The study was conducted at 10 trailheads in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, WA, and the Three Sisters Wilderness, OR. Some visitors were asked about trip motivations as they started their trip; others were asked what they experienced after their trip. Questionnaire items were drawn from Recreation Experience Preference (REP) scales, experiences consistent with wilderness, including a number of items regarding the privacy functions of solitude and Attention Restoration Theory (ART). We hypothesized that visitors to very high use trailheads would have lower experience achievement for many of these experiences (for example, solitude and privacy). We also hypothesized that very high use visitors would have a harder time having the experiences they wanted--that the difference between pre-trip motives and post-trip experience achievement would be greater than for moderate use visitors. Our hypotheses were both correct for only seven of the 72 experiences we asked about. All seven of the items experienced less by visitors to very high use places are more descriptors of the setting and conditions that are experienced than of the psychological outcomes that result from what is experienced. None of the experiences that are clearly psychological outcomes were affected by amount of use. More wilderness experiences were influenced by whether one had stayed overnight in the wilderness than by use levels.
Keywords: management frameworks, recreation management, research methods, solitude, technology, visitor density, wilderness experience
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Cole, David N.; Hall, Troy E. 2012. The effect of use density and length of stay on visitor experience in wilderness. In: Cole, David N., comp. Wilderness visitor experiences: Progress in research and management; 2011 April 4-7; Missoula, MT. Proc. RMRS-P-66. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station p. 77-95.
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