Environmental Management

, 39:50

An Interpretive Study of Yosemite National Park Visitors’ Perspectives Toward Alternative Transportation in Yosemite Valley

RESEARCH

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-006-0061-9

Cite this article as:
White, D.D. Environmental Management (2007) 39: 50. doi:10.1007/s00267-006-0061-9

Abstract

The National Park Service (NPS) is increasingly focusing on alternative transportation systems in national parks to address environmental and social problems arising from a historical reliance on personal automobiles as the primary means of visitor access. Despite the potential advantages, alternative transportation may require a reorientation in the way that Americans have experienced national parks since the advent of auto-tourism in the early twentieth century. Little research exists, however, on visitor perspectives towards alternative transportation or the rationale underlying their perspectives. It remains unclear how transportation systems affect visitors’ experiences of the park landscape or the factors influencing their travel behavior in the parks. This report presents an interpretive study of visitor perspectives toward transportation management in the Yosemite Valley area of Yosemite National Park, California. Qualitative analysis of 160 semi-structured interviews identified individual psychological factors as well as situational influences that affect visitors’ behavior and perspectives. Individual psychological factors include perceived freedom, environmental values and beliefs, prior experience with Yosemite National Park and other national parks, prior experience with alternative transportation in national parks, and sensitivity to subjective perceptions of crowding. Situational factors included convenience, access, and flexibility of travel modes, as well as type of visit, type of group, and park use level. Interpretive communication designed to encourage voluntary visitor use of alternative transportation should focus on these psychological and situational factors. Although challenges remain, the results of this study suggest approaches for shaping the way Americans visit and experience their national parks to encourage environmental sustainability.

Keywords

Recreation management National parks Transportation management Visitor experience Qualitative methods Travel choice Public transportation 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Community Resources and Development, Arizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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