Greater knowledge is needed about visitors to federally classified wilderness in the South, the reasons they visit wilderness, and the ways wilderness conditions influence their experiences. This information will allow areas within the region to be compared, and it will improve the potential for tracking future changes that may require management changes.
Visitors to the Cohutta Wilderness in Georgia, Caney Creek Wilderness in Arkansas, and Upland island Wilderness in Texas were surveyed to gather baseline data on use and user characteristics. These characteristics included length of visit, group size, activities participated in, social encounter levels, availability of substitute sites, place of residence, sociodemographic information, previous wilderness experience, level of attachment for wilderness, and visitor preferences for wilderness conditions.
Results suggest many differences among visitors to the three wilderness areas studied. The areas differed in some aspects of visit characteristics, visitor characteristics, and visitor preferences. This baseline information also suggests differences among these areas and other wilderness areas studied, most located in the Western United States.
This report provides knowledge about current visitation. It may help in planning future educational programs, selecting wilderness quality indicators for Limits of Acceptable Change applications, and establishing management objectives for experience-related issues.