National Parks Survey: Past Visitors Likely to Return

This year is the centennial anniversary of the National Parks Service. While national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon have been popular for years, this celebration could bring in even more visitors than ever before. In fact, CNN reported that the National Parks Service experienced record high visitation numbers last year. So how many are likely to visit national parks this year? And what are some of the factors that people consider when deciding what sites to visit? We asked 1,000 respondents their thoughts about national parks.

national parks

National Parks

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, 37% of respondents said that they’ve visited national parks multiple times in the past. And 23% said that they’ve visited at least one national park. Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and the Great Smoky Mountains were some of the most popular parks listed by respondents who have visited them. And overall, 82% of those who have visited national parks said that they were at least somewhat satisfied with the experience.

Future Visitors

Looking forward, 59% of overall respondents said that they are at least somewhat likely to visit national parks at some point in the future. And of those respondents, 58% said that they are likely to visit national parks within the next year. Again, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon and Yosemite were some of the most popular parks mentioned by respondents as ones they’d like to visit.

Those who have already visited national parks at least once in the past were more likely to be interested in doing so again; 77% of those who have visited national parks said that they would be at least somewhat likely to do so again in the future. And 64% of those interested said they would be likely to visit within the next year.

Outdoor Activities

There are several different factors to take into consideration when choosing a vacation destination, whether that’s going to be a national park or elsewhere. In general, cost and convenience were rated as the most important factors for respondents when considering where to travel. After that, 17% of respondents said that they value when a destination offers exciting experiences. 13% value relaxation opportunities. 12% value cultural or educational opportunities. 11% look for places with access to lots of outdoor space. And 8% value adventurous opportunities.

Overall, 69% of respondents agreed that they enjoy spending time outdoors. 54% said that they spend time outdoors often. And 66% said that they like to spend time outdoors when they travel. The most popular outdoor activity among respondents seems to be sightseeing and taking photos, with 54% saying they enjoy it. 42% said they like hiking. 38% enjoy camping. 32% like going on guided tours. 27% like biking. Another 27% like fishing or boating. 20% like horseback riding. And 8% like skiing or snow sports. Just 13% don’t enjoy any outdoor activities.

Key Takeaways

It seems like the National Parks Service should be ready for another year with high attendance, since more than half of those interested in visiting national parks are likely to do so within the next year. But if the NPS wants to keep attendance up going forward, it could be worth it for them to target past visitors due to the high satisfaction rates and the higher likelihood of those consumers to visit parks in the future. So if the NPS enacts some kind of deal or incentive for people who visit multiple times, like it does to an extent with events and passes, it could keep attendance rates up well into the future. And as far as attracting new consumers, the NPS and other outdoor travel destinations could play up some of the sightseeing opportunities rather than focusing on other outdoor activities.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: Arches National Park, UT by Tony Kent under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on July 3 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.