Date of Award

12-2009

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Hallo, Jeffery C

Committee Member

Baldwin , Elizabeth D

Committee Member

McGuire , Francis A

Abstract

Many protected areas offer night programs for visitors; however, night hours have not been fully recognized as a potential resource in these areas. Night hours in protected areas could provide visitors with experiences unique to these times of the day. Also, typically low levels of visitation during night hours could provide visitors with additional or better suited opportunities to fulfill motivations and benefits sought during daytime activities. Furthermore, night hours could be used by managers to increase or temporally disperse use. The National Park Service's Natural Sounds and Natural Lightscapes programs provide a direction for the protection of this resource; however, very little attention has been given to the visitor experience during night hours. Therefore, a study was conducted to explore the social implications of night recreation in protected areas. Specifically, the study explored the motivations, benefits, visitor experience, and management activities associated with night hiking. Qualitative interviews were conducted with 31 participants of night hikes from both state and national protected areas, as well as four Interpretative Rangers. Results and implications are presented from a qualitative analysis of interview transcripts. Five major themes were identified to explain the night hiking experience.

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