Grand Canyon

Survey FAQ









Grand Canyon National Park Backcountry Visitor Satisfaction Study

Frequently Asked Questions


1. Who is doing this study?

The study is conducted by the Park Planning and Policy Lab of the University of Illinois in cooperation with Grand Canyon National Park.

2. What do people at University of Illinois know about Grand Canyon?

The principal investigator on the study, Bill Stewart, has been doing social science research at Grand Canyon for the past 20 years, starting with his dissertation research from graduate school days at the University of Arizona. Bill has hiked on all the major trails in the park's backcountry, and has spent numerous overnight trips with friends and family in Grand Canyon.

3. What is the purpose of this study?

To assist the park in its backcountry planning process by providing information about visitor expectations and satisfaction with backcountry overnight hiking experiences.

4. You mentioned this study has four questionnaires in your invitations letter. Why does this study have four questionnaires?

This study is meant to track the development of visitor experience - from start of trip planning to the return trip home. Most studies examine just the experiences revealed at the end of one's trip. We would like to understand the process of expectations leading to on-site experience and eventually followed by satisfaction after the trip is over. In order to do this, we need to assess your experiences at four different points in time. The park is concerned about the kind of expectations visitors bring to the backcountry, and ways in which these expectations influence one's trip.

5. How was I selected to participate in the study?

Grand Canyon National Park provides us a list of permittees who have made a reservation at least 2 months in advance. We sample from this list.

6. How long will you be sampling overnight backcountry visitors?

We will be sampling overnight backcountry permittees for trips from February to July 2006.

7. How many people are being asked to participate in the study?

Approximately 400 permittees will be invited to participate.

8. Will my name be used in connection with my responses?

ABSOLUTELY NOT! Our records are confidential. Your name will not be associated with your responses. After your final questionnaire is returned, your name will be removed from our mailing list. Although we will remove your contact information from our files, we will retain the itinerary of your permit. Within our analyses we will be able to examine relationships between where people hiked/camped and their experiences, preferences, and satisfactions.

9. How long will it take to complete the questionnaire?

For most people, it will take about 15 minutes for the pre-trip and the post-trip questionnaire respectively. About 10 minutes for each on-site questionnaire.

10. Has the questionnaire and methods been reviewed by the Park?

Yes. The development of the questionnaire was based upon several sources of information: (1) A comprehensive overnight visitor backcountry study was done in 1984-85 and more recently in 2004-05, and the questionnaires of these studies were examined for useful items that could provide longitudinal information relevant backcountry management. (2) The final questionnaires of this study have undergone numerous revisions. Previous versions were reviewed by a diverse set of NPS staff located at Grand Canyon, Flagstaff, and Washington, D.C. The questionnaires have undergone review and approval by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and also have undergone a human subject's review at the University of Illinois.

11. Can any friends complete a questionnaire too?

To keep the integrity of the random sampling, we are inviting only those permittees who we sampled. Unfortunately we want to hear back from just those people we sampled. Unless your friends received an invitation from us, they will not be part of this study.

12. Can I receive the results of this study?

Yes, on your post-trip questionnaire, write a sentence on the back of it indicating that you'd like to receive the results of this study, or send us an email at We hope to have the study complete, and received by the NPS, by Spring 2007.

13. Why do you have both web-based questionnaires and hard-copy versions?

We'd like to make convenient access to our questionnaires at your choice. As mentioned in our invitation letter, part of this study (either pre-trip and/or post-trip) can be completed from the web-based questionnaire. The on-site questionnaire is only available in a hard copy and it will be mailed to you.

If you have any question, please email us at, or call at (217) 244-7747.