Examining Backcountry Adventure as a Spiritual Experience


  • Paul E. Marsh Humboldt State University
  • Andrew J. Bobilya Montreat College


spirituality, outdoor adventure, spiritual experience, backcountry


The study was conducted to establish an understanding of what is meant when someone describes a backcountry adventure as being a spiritual experience and to better understand the relationships between the attributes, consequences, and values (ACV) of these spiritual experiences. Interviews were conducted with 63 backcountry users in the region of Teton Pass, Wyoming. Informant statements were coded for content analysis and implication matrices were generated for the frequency of association between the ACV concepts represented in each hierarchical value map (HVM). An analysis of informant subgroups was conducted. The eight values identified represent what informants considered as their meaning of a spiritual experience. The most frequently expressed values were a transcendent experience (63%), increased awareness (46%), connection to others (43%), and a sense of fulfillment (29%). Other ACV concepts and ACV associations that contribute to spiritual meaning were identified. The findings could be useful for recreationists, program managers, marketers, and resource managers.



Regular Papers