Barrier or bridge? The role of transportation in national park visitation by racial and ethnic groups

Elizabeth E. Perry, Xiao Xiao, Robert E. Manning

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A cornerstone of US national parks is their democratic ideal; the country’s most iconic history and natural features should be accessible to all. However, this ideal has not yet been fully realized. Racial/ethnic minorities are substantially underrepresented in the national parks, and lack of transportation may contribute to this issue. This study examines national park visitation patterns of three racial/ethnic groups (Hispanic, Black and White) and transportation barriers and incentives to visiting national parks. An Internet-based survey was administered to a stratified panel of New York City residents. The survey found that Blacks had the lowest rate of national park visitation and Hispanics reported the greatest number of transportation constraints (“barriers”) to visiting national parks and the greatest responsiveness to transportation incentives (“bridges”). Whites had the highest rate of park visitation and reported the lowest number of transportation barriers and the lowest responsiveness to transportation bridges. Study findings help inform management of transportation to encourage more equitable access to national parks and offer insights into theories explaining underrepresentation of racial/ethnic groups in parks and outdoor recreation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-184
Number of pages12
JournalWorld Leisure Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Ethnicity
  • National parks
  • New York City
  • Race
  • Transportation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Cultural Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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