Date of Award

May 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Matthew Brownlee

Committee Member

Jeffrey Hallo

Committee Member

Adam Beeco

Committee Member

David White


Recent technological advances have made it possible to more accurately understand visitor travel patterns and their associated impacts. These advancements help to: accumulate voluminous data sets, collect alternative location data similar to GPS data, conduct spatiotemporal inferential statistics, and advance spatiotemporal visualizations. However, investigations of visitor travel patterns have not kept pace with recent technological advancements. Therefore, the purpose of this dissertation was to advance spatiotemporal research of visitor travel patterns within parks and protected areas by leveraging new technologies. The studies reported in this dissertation were designed to begin filling this gap, and include results from research conducted at: 1) Theodore Roosevelt National Park to identify which spatiotemporal variables are the most important to managers for understanding visitor travel patterns; 2) Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park to identify air tour travel patterns; and 3) the Bonneville Salt Flats to understand visitor travel patterns in a dispersed recreation setting that lacks organizational infrastructure.

These three independent but conceptually linked studies were designed to inform our understanding of visitor travel patterns within parks and protected areas. This information is important so that park managers: a) understand how space and time influence visitor routes; and b) have relevant information to continue to conserve the biophysical resource while providing opportunities for quality visitor experiences. Results from the study at Theodore Roosevelt National Park showed that managers identified three temporal variables as being the most important towards understanding visitor travel patterns. These variables were analyzed to determine time allocation and vehicle speed patterns. Results from the study at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park determined air tour travel patterns and which terrestrial attraction areas were the most affected by air tours. The study at the Bonneville Salt Flats identified potential areas of conflict and designed areas recommended for monitoring. Overall, this dissertation contributes to further understanding of visitor travel patterns, which provides information for managers to continue conserving parks and protected areas for the benefit of society.



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