Modeling traffic patterns in Denali National Park and Preserve to evaluate effects on visitor experience and wildlife

Ted Morris, John Hourdos, Max Donath, Laura Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Historically, traffic on the Denali Park Road has been limited in order to protect wildlife and improve visitor experience. The Denali Park Road is one example of a park roadway facing increasing visitation and pressure to change or defend the current limits on traffic. To respond to such pressures, park and protected area managers need a greater understanding of the impacts of traffic volume and traffic patterns on the physical, biological, and social environment. This study developed a traffic simulation model of the Denali Park Road that predicts visitor experience and impacts on Dall's sheep for hypothesized road usage scenarios. The model incorporated crowding indicators at prescribed scenic areas and at wildlife stops along the road, as well as traffic levels at critical wildlife crossing locations. Violations of set standards for each of the indicators were then assessed for several scenarios that encompassed road usage beginning from a below-average condition to a condition well above the current mandated daily vehicle trip limit. Results from the model indicated that adherence to standards representing a higher-quality visitor experience may be difficult to maintain on the park road if more visitors--in more vehicles--are allowed on the park road.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages1
JournalPark Science
Volume27
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 6 2010

Keywords

  • Dall's sheep
  • Denali National Park and Preserve
  • Scenic road
  • Traffic microsimulation
  • Visitor experience

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