Social Impacts of Design Alternatives, Crater Lake National Park


Scenic viewpoints on Rim Drive were chosen to further explore the effects of structure on visitor behavior. We were interested in what factors cause people to stop and, once they have stopped, what gets them out of their cars. The observer spent 15 minutes at each site on each day of observation, noting the number of cars going by and the number stopping. For those that stopped he recorded how long visitors spent at the site and the activities they engaged in. Sites were selected in order to contrast a variety of factors.


“Stopping power” of pull-outs was operationally defined as the percent of cars going by that stopped. We identified five factors that may have an effect on stopping power: size of the parking area, separation from the road, the view from the parking area, visibility of interpretive signing, and degree of development. For each factor, two sites are compared which are, as nearly as possible, similar with respect to other stopping power factors. Ideally only one factor should vary in each comparison, but this was not always possible. Results here are suggestive rather than conclusive.

Size of the Parking Area

To the visitor the size of the parking area reflects more than just the availability of a place to park. A larger parking area is essentially a signal that a place is important and/or popular. Figure 4 compares the “Cleetwood Flow” and “Red Cloud Cliff and Pumice Castle” pull-outs, which have different sized parking areas but are similar in other respects. Results suggest that the size of the parking area has a significant effect on stopping power; 22% of the cars stop at the “Cleetwood Flow” pull out, while more than twice as many (58%) stop at the larger “Red Cloud Cliff and Pumice Castle” area (p<.001).

Figure 4. Size of parking area.


Parking Separated from the Road

When the parking at a viewpoint is separated from the road by a green space this may give the visitor the impression that the area is large and that the viewpoint is important because more work has been put into its construction. Figure 5 shows “Skell Head” pull out with its parking separated from the road, and “Red Cloud Cliff and Pumice Castle” pull out where the parking is immediately adjacent to the road. The two sites are similar in all other relevant factors, but more cars (61%) stop at “Skell Head” than at “Red Cloud Cliff and Pumice Castle” (48%). This difference is not significant at traditional levels (p<.2).