Youth Visitor Dynamics in Pacific Coast National Parks

Authors: John Crowell*, University of North Alabama, Michael Pretes, University of North Alabama
Topics: Tourism Geography, Recreational and Sport Geography, Environment
Keywords: tourism, national parks, United States, Pacific Coast
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 1:10 PM / 2:50 PM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: Download

Recent media reports have suggested that members of the Millennial Generation (born 1981-1997) and Generation Z (born after 1997) are less inclined to visit national parks, compared to older generations. We used three methods to examine the validity of these media statements: Qualtrics-based social media surveys (on Facebook and Instagram), face to face semi-structured interviews with park rangers at four Pacific coast national parks—Redwood, Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, and Olympic—and on-site visitor counts at park visitor centers and on trails. We compared these observations with the limited historical data on visitor ages available from the National Park Service. Our results suggest that media reports are overstated, and that the number of both Millennial Generation and Generation Z members visiting national parks is at least stable and perhaps even increasing. A possible explanation for divergent results is that younger people may be accessing park information through online and social media sources, and therefore bypassing visitor centers and direct contact with park rangers.

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