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Visitor in Badlands National Park

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...

Visitor Spending Effects

Dollar Sign

The economic effects analysis measures how NPS visitor spending cycles through local economies, generating business sales and supporting jobs and income. 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...

Last Updated: December 30, 2016