Computer Simulation Modeling to Determine Trailhead Quotas for Overnight Wilderness Visitor Use


  • Robert Van Kirk Humboldt State University
  • Steven Martin Humboldt State University
  • Kai Ross Humboldt State University
  • Mark Douglas Humboldt State University


simulation model, trailhead quotas, wilderness use


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Limits on overnight visitor use may be needed when demand is very high and other management tools alone are inadequate to protect resource and experiential conditions. In the wilderness, trailhead quotas may be an effective management tool that allows for more visitor autonomy. For trailhead quotas to be effective; however, managers must have a very good understanding of the relationship between the trailhead origin of trips and the resulting spatiotemporal distribution of users. Simulation modeling can accurately determine this relationship, thus allowing managers to set informed and appropriate trailhead quotas. This study showed how a simulation model can be used to 1) monitor the distribution of overnight wilderness visitors in a large wilderness area with a complex trails network and 2) achieve an informed redistribution of overnight visitor use that reduces the number of areas that are overcapacity while still accommodating the same overall amount and the same temporal distribution of visitor use. 

Author Biographies

Robert Van Kirk, Humboldt State University

Associate Professor, Dept. of Mathematics

Steven Martin, Humboldt State University

Professor and Department Chair, Dept. of Environmental Science & Management

Kai Ross, Humboldt State University

M.S. in Environmental Systems--Math Modeling

Mark Douglas, Humboldt State University

M.S. Natural Resources





Regular Papers