Author Bios (50 Words)

Norma Nickerson, Ph.D., has been the Director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana for 26 years. Her areas of research include visitor studies in Montana and protected areas.

Jeremy Sage, Ph.D., is the Economist and Associate Director of the Institute for Tourism and Recreation Research at the University of Montana. His research centers around the economic contributions of tourism, geo-spatial analysis, and visitor studies.

Jake Jorgenson, Ph.D. is a Senior Researcher for RRC Associates in Boulder, Colorado. His research concentrates in visitor behavior as it relates to recreation in urban parks, state and federal parks and protected areas, and nationwide ski areas.

Abstract (150 Words)

Crowding and satisfaction in Yellowstone National Park was assessed through intercept studies at entrances and attractions within the park. Results showed that in-the-moment surveys still showed high satisfaction by most visitors even though visitation numbers are at record highs. Differences were found in satisfaction between first time and repeat visitors as well as between visitors who had only been in the park 4 days or less compared to those with longer stays indicating that familiarity with the park brings about more acute assessment of their visit. Managers of protected areas should re-evaluate the use of studies gauging perceived crowding in today's world of social media and awareness of crowding which could allow visitors to accept and adapt to overcrowded conditions.

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Crowding Perceptions and Satisfaction in National Parks: When will we learn?

Crowding and satisfaction in Yellowstone National Park was assessed through intercept studies at entrances and attractions within the park. Results showed that in-the-moment surveys still showed high satisfaction by most visitors even though visitation numbers are at record highs. Differences were found in satisfaction between first time and repeat visitors as well as between visitors who had only been in the park 4 days or less compared to those with longer stays indicating that familiarity with the park brings about more acute assessment of their visit. Managers of protected areas should re-evaluate the use of studies gauging perceived crowding in today's world of social media and awareness of crowding which could allow visitors to accept and adapt to overcrowded conditions.