Skip to page content
USDA Forest Service

Research & Development Treesearch

Treesearch Home
About Treesearch
Contact Us
Research & Development
Forest Products Lab
International Institute of Tropical Forestry
Pacific Northwest
Pacific Southwest
Rocky Mountain
Southern Research Station
Help - We Participate  Government Made Easy

Global Forest Information Service

US Forest Service
P.O. Box 96090
Washington, D.C.

(202) 205-8333

You are here: Home / Search / Publication Information
Bookmark and Share

Publication Information

View PDF (510 K bytes)

Title: Twenty years of change on campsites in the backcountry of Grand Canyon National Park

Author: Cole, David N.; Foti, Pam; Brown, Mathieu;

Date: 2008

Source: Environmental Management. 41(6): 959-970.

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

Description: This article draws on three separate research and monitoring studies to describe 20-year trends in the number and condition of campsites in the backcountry of Grand Canyon National Park. Results are used to assess the effectiveness of a complex and innovative management program, adopted in 1983, that sought to concentrate use on designated campsites in popular places and disperse camping in more remote places. In 1984, conditions on 12 high-use campsites and 12 low-use campsites were carefully assessed. Conditions on 22 of these campsites were reassessed in 2005. In addition, campsite-monitoring surveys were conducted between 1985 and 1992 and again in 2003 and 2004. In these surveys, all campsites were located and their condition rapidly assessed. The detailed assessment of a sample of sites suggests relatively little change in condition during the 20-year period. The high-use sites were more highly disturbed than the low-use sites, but they did not change more during the study period. In contrast, changes at larger scales were dramatic. The total number of campsites more than doubled during the study period. Surprisingly, the proliferation of new campsites was greater in places where camping was only allowed on designated campsites than in places where camping was allowed anywhere. Concern that concentration of use on designated sites would cause unacceptable impact was unfounded. Management implications for other internationally significant protected areas that allow backcountry camping are explored.

Keywords: campsite impact, designated campsites, recreation management, trends

Publication Notes:

  • We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
  • This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
  • You may send email to to request a hard copy of this publication. (Please specify exactly which publication you are requesting and your mailing address.)



Cole, David N.; Foti, Pam; Brown, Mathieu 2008. Twenty years of change on campsites in the backcountry of Grand Canyon National Park. Environmental Management. 41(6): 959-970.


 [ Get Acrobat ]  Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility

USDA logo which links to the department's national site. Forest Service logo which links to the agency's national site.