Visitor Experience and Social Science
About 400,000 people visit Denali each year. Visitors arrive by car, train, bus, or plane. Where are they from and what do they do? How does the park learn about visitors, and what do park managers do with the research results? Scroll down to learn more about visitor experience and social science in Denali.
What is social science in national parks and in Denali?
By learning about visitors, park managers can provide exceptional experiences for visitors while protecting the park's natural and cultural resources. Park managers use social science results when deciding how to balance the pressures of visitor use with the protection of resources. Social science measures and monitors park visitation and helps managers gauge when new services or facilities are needed.
Fact sheet: Understanding Park Visitor Characteristics
Photo credit: Gail Vander Stoep
Who is a typical ("average") visitor to Denali?
To learn about visitor characteristics, in 2011, social scientists and NPS staff conducted the the Visitor Services Project (VSP). The researchers handed out 1031 surveys to visitors to complete after their visit (735 surveys were mailed back). The survey gathered lots of information about a Denali park visitor--including age, group size, group type, country or state of residency, and how the visitor arrived at the park.
How many people visit Denali each year?
To learn more about park visitors and improve estimates of park visitation, social scientists conducted a comprehensive survey of visitors in 2011.
Fact sheet: Estimating Park Visitation
Report: Estimating Visits to Denali National Park and Preserve (Natural Resources Technical Report NPS/AKR/NRTR--2012/641)
Website: National Park Service Visitor Use Statistics (to access various annual or monthly reports about Denali or other national parks).
Visitors and the Local Economy
Economists and social scientists have conducted studies and analyses that give a sense of the nature of this park-visitor-local economy relationship.
Fact sheet: Visitor Spending and the Local Economy
Visitor Experience and Park Management
A predictive study of use impacts on the Denali Park Road (2006-2008):
Monitoring indicators of visitors' backcountry experience in Denali (2010):
Visitor Services Project (VSP) Survey (2011):
Social normative study of backcountry visitors' acoustic expectations and experiences in Denali (2011-2012):
Did You Know?
Nearly 500 vegetation plots have been installed in Denali, to monitor climate change. Warmer temperatures allow woody plants to grow at higher elevations, invading the fragile and unique plants already in high alpine tundra - and threatening the animals that depend on those specialized plants.