Using Social Media Data and Park Characteristics to Understand Park Visitation


  • Diane Kuehn SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
  • James Gibbs SUNY ESF
  • Harrison Goldspiel SUNY ESF
  • Brannon Barr SUNY ESF
  • Alden Sampson Upstream PBC
  • Marshall Moutenot Upstream PBC
  • Joshua Badding SUNY ESF
  • Lilly Stradtman SUNY ESF



Social media, park characteristics, visitation


The emergence of social media creates opportunities for assessing how visitors use park resources for recreation. Our study objectives are to determine if the number of images posted online by visitors to the social media platform Flickr can serve as a valid proxy for estimating park visitation at the state and regional levels, and if including park characteristics in visitation models improves model fit. Regressions were used to identify relationships among social media data, park characteristics, and park visitation data. Although “number of images/km2” explained most of the variation in summer visitation data for the Northern Forest Region and the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York, including park characteristics (i.e., size, road access, and number of facilities) improved model fit in most instances. Model fit was stronger for most states than the region, indicating the need to consider consistency in management across a region in future studies. 

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Author Biographies

Diane Kuehn, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

Diane Kuehn is an Associate Professor of Outdoor Recreation Management in the Department of Forest and Natural Resources Management at SUNY ESF.

James Gibbs, SUNY ESF

Professor, Dept. of Environmental and Forest Biology

Harrison Goldspiel, SUNY ESF

Dept. of Environmental and Forest Biology

Brannon Barr, SUNY ESF

Dept. of Environmental and Forest Biology





Research Notes