Mapping spatial dimensions of Wilderness recreation outcomes: a study of overnight users

Erinn Drage, William L. Rice, Zachary D. Miller, Jennifer N. Newton, Ashley D’Antonio, Peter Newman, B. Derrick Taff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Grand Teton National Park (GRTE) is a popular mountain recreation destination which, like many National Park Service (NPS) units, has experienced a significant increase in visitation in recent years, with total visits increasing by 27% between 2014 and 2017 (NPS 2020). Particularly popular within GRTE is the String and Leigh Lakes (SLL) area, which is a favoured alpine destination for numerous day-use recreation activities and also an important starting point for backcountry and overnight recreational users within GRTE’s Recommended Wilderness. To better understand the visitor experience of overnight backcountry recreationists in the SLL area, data were collected using novel public participatory geographic information systems (PPGIS) during the summer of 2018. PPGIS data were used to identify the locations in which overnight recreationists experienced positive and negative recreation outcomes. Results indicate that they experience more positive outcomes within the Recommended Wilderness, away from high-density, trailhead-proximate areas outside the Recommended Wilderness. Findings also indicate that overnight users experience crowding and conflict more outside of the Recommended Wilderness than elsewhere on their backcountry trip. While this may seem intuitive, these are some of the first empirical results spatially contextualizing backcountry visitor outcomes in a popular national park. The findings thus provide managers with a visitor experience baseline that can be monitored and adaptively managed in the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2020


  • outcomes-focused management
  • outdoor recreation
  • spatial dimensions


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