Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design


Recreation, Parks and Tourism Resources

Committee Chair

David Smaldone

Committee Co-Chair

Robert Burns

Committee Member

Steven Selin


The New River Gorge National River (NERI), managed by the National Park Service, is a popular destination for whitewater rafters, day hikers, and rock climbers. Located in central West Virginia, about 60 miles east of Charleston, NERI contains over 1700 climbing routes. This thesis is part of a larger study, funded by the National Park Service, which studied geologic, botanical, and recreational components to cliff resources in NERI. This thesis compared the low impact behaviors and management attitudes of hikers and rock climbers, and further segments rock climbers by climbing style, experience level, learning environment, and learning style. This thesis also compared the levels of trust that hikers and climbers have in various sources for information about cliff resource management. Visitors were surveyed at four trailheads in NERI and responded to a variety of statements evaluating their attitudes toward low impact behaviors and cliff resource management, as well as their trust of different sources when it came to obtaining reliable information on cliff resource management. Climbers in general, compared to hikers, were found to have less trust in managers, more negative attitudes toward management actions, and more knowledge of low impact behaviors. Traditional climbers in particular were the least trusting of managers, but had the greatest knowledge of low impact behaviors.