First Advisor

Jeremy Spoon

Term of Graduation

Fall 2021

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.) in Anthropology






Recreational surveys, Environmental psychology, Ecotourism -- Nevada -- Desert National Wildlife Range, Ecotourism -- Nevada -- Spring Mountains National Recreation Area, Place (Philosophy), Protected areas -- Public use, Recreation areas -- Public use



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 64 pages)


The complex sensory experiences of visitors to U.S. protected areas are not well understood. Previous research investigates visitor activities, motivations, and the ways place attachment cultivates support for conservation activities and other pro-environmental behavior. However, it is unclear how protected area visitor sensory experiences contribute to these behaviors. This study aims to articulate the multisensory experiences of visitors to the Desert National Wildlife Refuge Complex and the Spring Mountains National Recreation Area in southern Nevada, U.S.A. Specifically, it demonstrates the complexity of these experiences as present, intertwined, and embodied in all visit phases: before, during, and after. Utilizing a mixed-method investigation of a digitally administered survey (n=141) and social media analysis of three major platforms where visitors post trip images and reviews, results from this study demonstrate the sensory experience of visitors to these protected areas is formulated in the memory and imagination of the visitor before their visit, embodied in their active physical engagement with the environment while on-site through their chosen activities, and cemented in their emotional recollection through internal and external processes. Further, visitors utilize photographs, reviews, and social media posts to create emotional artifacts of their visit, contributing to the anticipation of future visits and influencing pro-environmental behavior. These results can assist land managers in addressing planning and management decisions related to visitation, conservation, recreation, and interpretation.


© 2021 Sara Nicole Temme

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