U.S. national parks accessibility and visitation

Xing ju Shen, Rui hong Huang, Jin shan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Accessibility is a factor affecting national park visitation. However, the effect of accessibility on national park visitation is not fully understood. This paper examines the relationship between U.S. national park visitation and accessibility. First, the global and local accessibility indexes of each park unit are computed based on an accessibility model that takes into account the surrounding population and its proximity to the park unit. Integrated in the model is a distance decay coefficient that is derived from U.S. national park visitor surveys and therefore pertinent to the case of study. Then correlation analysis is performed between park visitation and accessibility based on park types, regions, and visitation types. Results show that total visitation is positively related to accessibility in National Memorials, Military Parks and Battlefield Parks/Sites but negatively related to accessibility in national parks and national monuments. However, recreational overnight stay visits are commonly negatively correlated to accessibility for almost all park types. Moreover, local accessibility index displays enhanced correlation coefficients with improved significance levels in many categories of analysis. Results suggest that historical/cultural national parks which often show positive correlations tend to attract more local visitors, but nature-based parks which mainly show negative correlations tend to attract more distant visitors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2894-2906
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Mountain Science
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Accessibility
  • Distance decay
  • GIS
  • U.S. National Park
  • Visitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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