Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Name


Department or School/College

College of Forestry and Conservation

Committee Chair

Wayne Freimund

Commitee Members

Michael Patterson, Stephen McCool, Dusten Hollist, Douglas Dalenberg


national park policy, natural sounds, recreation, soundscape management, soundscape policy, visitor experiences, wildland recreation, winter visitor experiences


University of Montana


The natural soundscape is becoming increasingly recognized as a threatened park resource. A variety of policies, laws, and regulations have rapidly been established that affect the National Park Service mandate and require the agency and individual parks to protect, preserve, and restore natural sounds. National Parks are grappling with how to manage the newly legitimized natural soundscape resource and this research provides some of the first significant knowledge of visitor experiences of park soundscapes and preferences for management policies. The role of the natural soundscape in visitor experiences was explored through both interview and survey data with the primary goal of documenting dimensions of the experiences of natural sounds. Findings from this research highlight that not only do the majority of winter visitors to Yellowstone National Park believe that natural sounds are important to their experience of the park, but that deep meanings and complexity characterize visitor perceptions of the role of the natural soundscape to the overall value of the park and influence perceptions of the role of mechanized sounds in the park. While differences among the three primary user groups (cross-country skiers, snow coach riders, and snowmobilers) do exist, the data reflects a much greater degree of common ground and general agreement on most issues related to the park natural soundscape that were explored in this research.



© Copyright 2008 Shelley Walker Saxen