Close this search box.

Effects of Alternative Transportation Modes and Vehicles on Visitor Experience in Yellowstone National Park

Project #: 426292
Start Date: 11/01/2001
End Date: 09/30/2003

Many of America’s national parks are in danger of being “loved to death” by overcrowding, pollution, and damage to fragile environments by eager or careless visitors. These negative impacts could be reduced if a significant percentage of auto-touring visitors were persuaded to adopt alternative transportation modes such as busses, trams, bicycles, or hiking. This project is exploring factors related to the visitor experience that could help induce such a mode shift. Advances in computer and display technology may provide a solution to this conundrum. Portable computing and display devices such as palm computers, notebook computers, global positioning system (GPS) receivers, and virtual reality goggles and headphones are becoming increasingly common for travel and tourism applications. Location, route selection, and identifying nearby attractions are already popular uses. Providing interactive information support concerning the flora, fauna, geography, geology, ecology, history, and culture of a tourism site is a logical extension of these functions. A user-centered design process is being employed to develop and evaluate a low-level simulation of a portable, computer based information support system that will enhance the visit experience of park visitors. Particular attention will be paid to the needs of visitors riding in alternative transport modes. An initial requirements study will use survey and interview techniques to document typical visitors’ objectives, interests, motivations, and expectations for park visits. Digital imagery will be obtained representing sample segments of a park visit in a personal automobile and in an alternative transportation mode. Sample screens, menus, and tree structure from an interactive information system will be developed using HTML coding to provide access to an information database of tourist information. This will be combined with the visit imagery to create a website that simulates a visit and allows evaluation by potential park visitors. Based on the results of this formative evaluation, plans will be developed for iterative design and evaluation of future generations of higher level prototypes of the Visit Enhancement System.


A user-centered design process will be used to document requirements, develop low fidelity prototypes, and perform initial formative evaluation of an interactive Visit Enhancement System that could be used by visitors touring on alternative transportation modes in Yellowstone National Park.

Share this Project: