UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Wilderness recreation users - their characteristics, motivations, and opinions : a study of three British Columbia provincial parks Thorsell, James Westvick


An essential ingredient in park and recreation planning is knowledge of the user clientele. Opinion and behavioral studies of park visitors are a priority need in recreation research, they aid in defining resource quality and contribute to improved park planning. Names and addresses of 995 wilderness vacationers were gathered from back country trail registers in Bowron Lake, Garibaldi and Mount Robson Provincial Park. Anine-page mail back questionnaire, calling for response to 92 items, was returned by 80 percent of the sample. The questionnaire gathered data on user and trip characteristics, user assessment of benefits and motivations, and user reaction to and evaluation of management policies and other visitors. The first phase of the study attempts an empirical descriptive analysis of the back country camper in three contrasting wilderness parks. As the only such survey undertaken in this regional context, a basic census is provide d from which future trends can be detected. Findings reinforce and are contrasted with other user studies. The second phase of the study explores variables that influence, use. On the basis of questionnaire response, users are classified by ten different dimensions, eight of which were important in explaining variation in response. The final concern of the study seeks application so the findings to wilderness planning and management. It is concluded that (1) growth in demand for the recreational services of wilderness will continue; (2) present park use levels, in the visitors estimation, are approaching saturation; and (3) the wilderness experience is taking on a new meaning as the parks become more "democratized" and "humanized".

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