The Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area has just released a visitor use study that examines characteristics, trip preferences, and expenditures of visitors of the park. The park partnered with the University of Idaho to conduct a systematic random sample of visitor groups at 11 locations (Alum Ford, Bear Creek, Blue Heron, Burnt Mill Bridge, Divide Road, Leatherwood East and West Entrances, Rugby, Station Camp, Stearns Train Depot, and Yahoo Falls) in the park during the month of September 2012. The study included a brief on-site interview and a 16 page take-home questionnaire.
The 90 page document examines a wide range of visitor traits and details. Key findings include:
• Visitors were from 21 states with 57% from Tennessee. Forty-four percent of visitor groups were residents of the area (within 50 miles of the park).
• Thirty-seven percent of visitors were ages 46-60 years, 17% were 31-45 years old, 13% were 66 years or older, and 12% were ages 15 years or younger. Fifty-four percent of visitors were female. One percent were Hispanic or Latino.Ninety-six percent of visitors were self-identified as White.
• During the on-site interview, 75% of visitor groups said the park was their primary destination, and 13% said the park was one of several destinations.
• The most common primary reasons for visiting Big South Fork NRRA area among non-resident visitor groups were to visit the park (55%) and visit friends/relatives in the area (9%).
• Sixty-two percent of visitor groups chose to visit the park because of the scenery, and 37% visited because the park was the area that was closest to home.
• Forty-seven percent of visitor groups stayed overnight inside Big South Fork NRRA or within 50 miles of the park.
• The average length of stay in the park was 30.1 hours, or 1.3 days.
• Forty-five percent of visitor groups visited other local attractions on their visit. Of those visitor groups that visited other local attractions, 45% visited Historic Stearns, KY, 34% visited Pickett State Rustic Park and Forest, and 32% visited Cumberland Falls State Resort Park.
• The most common places visited in the park were Bandy Creek area (51%), Leatherwood Ford (32%), and East Rim Overlook (28%). The most common activities in the park were hiking/walking (54%), stopping at scenic overlooks (50%), horseback riding/wagon riding (25%), and picnicking (25%).
• The average visitor group expenditure (inside and outside the park within 50 miles of the park) was $204. The average total expenditure per person (per capita) was $88.
The entire survey results are available on-line.
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