Yellowstone National Park South Entrance, Yellowstone visitation

Yellowstone Conducting Survey To Understand “Visitor Motivation”

To better understand what tourists want and expect of Yellowstone National Park, the National Park Service will be conducting visitor-use surveys throughout the Park for the next week.

In conjunction with market research consultants Resource Systems Group, Inc., the National Park Service will poll visitors on a variety demographic experiences, opinions, and preferences, Yellowstone spokeswoman Charissa Reid said Monday.

“The focus is to get more information about our visitors and better ideas on how to serve them,” Reid added.

Park Social Scientist Ryan Atwell said during an interview earlier this summer surveying visitors during this time of rapid increases in the number and demographics of park visitors will provide data on who is coming to Yellowstone and from where.

“The classic model is a family on vacation that enters through one entrance and departs through another,” Atwell said.

But in recent years, the park is seeing more patterned use, Atwell said, especially in tour buses that enter at the West Entrance, proceed to Old Faithful, and exit at the South.

“We’ll look at visitor motivation,” Atwell said. “We don’t understand some cultural differences in how they visit national parks.”

The survey includes verbal questions and a paper survey to be mailed-in at the end of the visitor’s trip.

Reid said she wasn’t sure how many surveys they hope to conduct.

One Park County resident who said she was pulled over at the North Entrance to be interviewed said she found the survey well thought out.

“There are slots for “Day trip? Go to question 9 type of organization,” she said.

The resident, partially retired, told the interviewer she visits the park two to three times a week as a local.

“He asked if I was an employee, and you could see him almost putting away the clipboard, but when I said no, it came back at me,” she said.

Survey administrators from RSG and Washington State University will approach visitors at the entrance stations and at pre-identified pull-outs, an informational release from the park said. The interviewers will be in park through Aug. 14.

The results are expected to be published sometime next year.

About Liz Kearney

Liz Kearney is a former Yellowstone tour guide and snowcoach driver. She lives in Livingston, Montana, where she covers the park and other news for the daily newspaper, the Livingston Enterprise.

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