Social Impacts of Design Alternatives, Crater Lake National Park

Barriers represent another set of structures which affect visitor behavior. It appears that different kinds and placements of barriers give visitors different “messages” about what they are supposed to do. At the viewpoints along Rim Drive we kept track of the amount of time people spent at the barrier, on the barrier, or over the barrier. By analyzing the characteristics of the different sites we discovered four factors which affect how the barriers are used. These include the type of barrier, the amount of separation between the car and the barrier, the relationship of attractions (such as interpretive signs) to the barrier, and the relationship of the best view to the barrier.


Along Rim Drive there are basically two types of barriers: low solid stone walls and semi-permeable barriers comprised of either large boulders or wooden reflector posts. The former are used to block both cars and people from areas that are potentially dangerous, while the latter are meant to restrict only cars.

Differences in the barriers give the visitor different cues. A solid barrier is a greater obstacle and fewer visitors appear willing to cross over. This is the type of barrier found at the “Red Cloud Cliff and Pumice Castle” pull out (Fig. 11), where only 11% of the visitors who got out of their cars crossed over the barrier. In contrast, the semi-permeable type of barrier found at the unnamed area adjoining the Northwest end of the “What Is Soil?” pull out is not viewed as a serious obstacle. Here 70% of those who got out of their cars crossed over the barrier (p<.001).


When the barrier is right next to the parking area visitors may view it as an extension of the car and use it as a place to sit and view the lake. This is the case at the “Cleetwood Flow” pull out (Fig. 12) where 28% of the visitors who get out of their cars spend time on the barrier. This is a significantly (p<.001) larger percentage than at the “Skell Head” pull out where the barrier is farther away. In this area cars are separated from the barrier by a wide sidewalk and only 1% of the visitors who get out spend any time on the barrier.


A barrier gives the visitor cues about what to do and what not to do, but sometimes other cues are stronger than those provided by the barrier. At the “What Is Soil?” pull out (Fig. 13), the interpretive sign is well beyond the stone wall and visitors must cross the barrier to read it. Of those getting out at this site, 92% crossed over the barrier. These conflicting cues contrast with the situation at the “Skell Head” pull out, where the sign is on the barrier. Here the locations of both the sign and the barrier suggest that the visitor need go no further. Only 1% of the visitors getting out of their cars cross over the barrier here (p<.001).

Figure 11. Types of barriers.


Figure 12. Separation of car and barrier.


Figure 13. Relation between the attraction and the barrier.