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Half Dome Cables Visitor Use Study

Yosemite National Park » Half Dome Cables Visitor Use Study » Document List

The project will combine two social science studies: Computer-based simulation use modeling and survey research. The modeling component will be applied to understand visitor use conditions from the Happy Isles Trailhead to the summit of Half Dome. A second component involving survey research will be used to gauge visitor exposure to information, awareness of safety issues, crowding, perceptions of risk, and other factors that influence a safe and enjoyable visitor experience.

1. Computer Simulation Use Modeling
Understanding the connection between visitor use levels and the amount of time spent on the cables is a primary objective of the study. Delay times will be collected on the sub-dome, the ascent and descent on the cables, and the time spent on the summit. With this data collection, the model will be able to project people per viewscape (PPV) and people at one time (PAOT) based on correlated levels of crowding/congestion.

Identifying visitation levels on the trail and cables will be an important product of this study. The ability to project what use on the cables would be based on arrivals at the Happy Isles Trailhead is a valuable product of this study. Dr. Steve Lawson from Virginia Tech University will be developing the simulation model.

2. Visitor Use Survey Research
Survey research will be applied to determine information including: exposure to Half Dome safety messages, perceptions of risk, social preferences towards crowding, evaluation of current conditions, attitudes towards potential management actions, and other items to be determined in cooperation with park staff. This portion of the project will be developed by Dr. Peter Newman from Colorado State University.

OMB and YOSE research permit applications for both studies has been initiated. Data collection will take place by both observation and interviews throughout the sampling period. Interviews and visitor participation is voluntary and a random sampling strategy will be applied.

Results will be used to better understand use conditions within the area. This study has been initiated with Preventative Search and Rescue (PSAR) funds exclusive of park planning directions. Results may be applied to future planning directions for the Yosemite Wilderness, Merced River Plan, and/or a General Management Plan.