Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Natural Resources

Department name when degree awarded

Forestry and Outdoor Recreation

Committee Chair(s)

John D. Hunt


John D. Hunt


Ivan Palmblad


Richard Schreyer


Natural hazards have been an increasing problem in wildland recreation areas. This study attempted to identify factors affecting park visitor perception of and preparedness for hazards.

A model was formulated incorporating three major independent variables which might affect park visitor responses to hazards. These were: (1) previous experience, (2) information about hazards provided by the park administration (such as warnings located on signs or in brochures), and (3) visitor perception of whether responsibility for hazards rests with the individual or with an outside authority such as government or God. Trip length and knowledge of hazards were also thought to be factors influencing visitor behavior.

The model was tested during the summer of 1976 in four study areas: Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and the High Uintas Primitive Area. Personal interviews and questionnaires were used to obtain the data.

The results showed that the set of influences upon visitor behavior varied with each park studied. In general, however, hazard warnings and visitor perceptions of where responsibility for hazards lay had no influence upon visitor behavior. In contrast, previous experience, trip length, and visitor knowledge about hazards had important influences upon visitor preparations for hazards.