The Relationship Between Experiences Sought, Preferred Settings, Resource Conditions, and Management Preferences in an Urban-Proximate Recreation Area


  • Kathleen L. Andereck
  • Richard C. Knopt


outdoor recreation, experiences, settings, preferences, resource conditions, management, urban-proximate


This study examined the nature of the visitor experience in an urban-proximate recreation area using measures of experiences sought, setting preferences, perceptions of resource conditions, and perceptions of facility and program development priorities. This advances the research related to visitor preferences by looking not only at desired experiences, but also at how these experience preferences influence the way visitors view the recreation setting including the physical environment, social conditions, current management conditions, and prospective management actions.The study used an on-site survey for initial data collection. Respondents were also given a questionnaire to mail back later. Dillman’s (2000) mail survey procedure was generally followed. Findings demonstrate that visitors seek a variety of recreation experiences in urban-proximate recreation areas, including natural, educational, social, and physical experiences. The experience preferences of visitors partly determined their perceptions of resource conditions and setting preferences. As well, experience preferences and perceptions of resource conditions predicted preferences regarding facility and program development. In general, those seeking natural experiences preferred remote, uncrowded, and undeveloped areas. Visitors who sought educational experiences had no clear setting preferences, but did support development of added facilities and programs, especially those related to interpretation and environmental education. Social experience seekers had no strong setting preferences and seemed to be indifferent to facility and program development. Those seeking a physical experience preferred predominately remote settings for their experiences and appeared to have no preferences for any kind of facility or program development except additional motorized facilities.Managers can use this information to direct users to different areas of the resources depending on the experiences and settings they prefer. This research further demonstrates both theoretical and managerial applications of using desired experiences to help guide recreation resource management. The four experience preference constructs are related to perceptions of resource conditions, setting preferences, and to management actions, though actions tend to be better predicted by resource setting condition perceptions. Continued research about the relationship between experiences and preferences will help recreation managers meet the needs of visitors and determine development policies in an appropriate and strategic manner.