Visitor in Badlands National Park

Social Science Branch Mission

"The National Park Service Social Science Branch conducts and promotes state-of-the-art social science related to the mission of the National Park Service and delivers usable knowledge to National Park Service managers and to the public."

Critical Questions for NPS Social Science

  • Who visits national parks? When do they come; where do they come from, and what do they look for? Who doesn't visit, and why?
  • How do these visitors affect national park resources? How does park management affect the visitor experience?
  • How do national parks relate to their surrounding communities? How do they affect local, regional, and national economies?
  • How can threats to national parks be minimized or reduced?
  • How effective are NPS educational efforts--such as museum exhibits, guided hikes, and ranger-led talks--and how they can be improved?
  • How can the parks' natural and cultural resources be managed more effectively?

For further information about how the National Park Service's Social Science Branch is answering these questions, be sure to read our program overview web page and our briefing statement (PDF - 358 KB).

Social Science Branch Featured Content

Visitor Use Statistics


Visitor Use Statistics staff produce reports ranging from monthly visitation summaries to annual statistical abstracts and in-depth analyses examining changes in visitation over the decades, current trends in park visitation, and short-term visitation forecasts. Learn more...

Money Generation Model Report

Dollar Sign

The Money Generation Model (MGM2) study provides updated estimates of National Park Service visitor spending for 2008 and extends the analysis to include impacts of the National Park Service payroll on local economies. Learn more...

Information Collection

Woman in vehicle answering survey.

The National Park Service (NPS) sponsors public surveys to provide park managers with information needed for park planning, management, operations and evaluation of performance related to protecting park resources and meeting the needs of the public. The NPS has developed an programmatic review process for such NPS-sponsored public surveys. Learn more...

Activities & Usable Knowledge

Report Cover

The activities and priorities of the National Park Service Social Science Branch are guided by Usable Knowledge: A Plan for Furthering Social Science and the National Parks. Read more about the Usable Knowledge plan and the many activities of the National Park Service Social Science Branch. Learn more...

Useful Resources

Last Updated: March 10, 2014