The impact of spatial accessibility and perceived barriers on visitation to the US national park system

Xiao Xiao, Lisa Aultman-Hall, Robert Manning, Brian Voigt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Visits to the US national park system continue to increase, but racial/ethnic minorities are consistently underrepresented among national park visitors compared to Whites. Research suggests several reasons for historic underrepresentation of racial/ethnic minorities, including limited spatial accessibility, marginality, subcultural differences, and discrimination. This study uses spatial analysis of survey data collected in a range of geographic locations across the US, to assess the spatial accessibility of three racial/ethnic groups to units of the national park system. The study also considers the relationships between spatial accessibility and measures of marginality, subculture, and discrimination. Results show that access to national parks varies greatly between geographic areas: residents of large metropolitan areas have better access to units of the national park system than residents of rural areas. The effect of spatial accessibility on visitation varies among racial/ethnic groups. The study also highlights the importance of culturally-oriented parks, provides information about park accessibility in order to enhance relevancy, and informs management strategies that can encourage visitation across different geographic areas and more diverse populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)205-214
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Transport Geography
StatePublished - Apr 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • National parks
  • Perceive barriers
  • Population weighted distance
  • Racial/Ethnic minority group
  • Spatial accessibility

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Transportation
  • Environmental Science(all)


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