Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



Major Professor

William E. Hammitt

Committee Members

Charles Cleland, Kerry Schell


The purpose of this study was to determine the characteristics, preferences, and behavior of the Blue Ridge Parkway campers and to determine their willingness to use nearby private campgrounds. Such information would be useful if the National Park Service decides to rely on the campgrounds near the Parkway in order to alleviate use pressures on their own campgrounds. This information was obtained from a response of 643 Parkway campers who were systematically selected in four Parkway campgrounds during the 1979 summer camping season. Results of the study indicate that there was considerable variation in camping party characteristics (i.e., camper types, party sizes). Many of the Parkway campers planned to travel extensively on the Parkway, taking 2 to 4 days in doing so. Over 75% of the campers regarded the Parkway as the major destination of their trip and over half did not intend to visit either the Shenandoah or the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The most popular reason for visiting the Parkway was for enjoying its scenery and climate. The most frequent reason for camping at the particular Parkway campground sampled was because of previous camping experiences at these locations which were highly favorable. From a checklist of items relating to the Parkway campers' camping experiences, it was found that they desired a certain amount of privacy and spaciousness within each campsite. However, the more developed camper types desired convenience-oriented facilities, while the lesser developed camper types wanted primitive accommodations. All campers were highly satisfied with their stay in the Parkway. Closer examination of Parkway camper characteristics and their satisfa- tion with the Parkway campgrounds revealed that those most satisfied consisted of small camping parties. Long present lengths of stay, many past visits, strong intentions of returning, and very satisfying past experiences were also associated with high satisfaction with the Parkway campgrounds. Finally, an examination of the Parkway campers' expressed willingness to use the nearby private campgrounds revealed a dichotomy among the campers and their interest in the nearby private campgrounds. Nearly 60% were willing to drive at least 5 miles off the Parkway to use a private campground. Eighty percent were willing to pay at least $3.50 per site at nearby facilities and over 40% of the campers expressed a fair likelihood in using a proposed specialized directory listing the nearby private campgrounds. These findings suggest that the option of relying on the nearby private campgrounds is feasible for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

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