Yellowstone studies its least-known mammal: the tourist
JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Yellowstone officials commissioned a survey last summer in support of an effort to beef up a social science aspect to studying visitor behavior. Park scientists knew all about flora and fauna within the 2.2 million acres of YNP, but relatively little was known about exactly who was visiting the park and why.
Data collection took place August 4 through August 14, 2016 using both in-person interviews and mail-back surveys of randomly selected people at all park entrances.
- The majority of visitor groups (91%) included two or more people.
- Most groups (87%) had only visited the park once in the last 12 months.
- Most groups (66%) spent one or more days in the park.
- U.S. visitors comprised 83% of total visitation during the study period.
- International visitors comprised 17% of total visitation during the study period, including many from Europe (49% of international), China (34% of international), and Canada (10% of international).
- Groups indicated viewing natural scenery (96%), viewing wildlife (83%), viewing geysers and other thermal features (78%), experiencing a wild place (72%), and hearing the sounds of nature/quiet (52%) as their most important reasons for visiting Yellowstone.
- Over half of visitors surveyed think that there are too many people in the park.
- Two-thirds of visitors surveyed think that parking is a problem, and over half think that the amount of roadway traffic and congestion are problems.
- Most visitors would like to see these challenges addressed through voluntary public transit and expansion of parking options (actions that don’t limit use of private vehicles).