At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides estimates on the volume and characteristics of visitors to National Forests and Grasslands.
  • Provides information on recreational physical activity in National Forest lands.
  • Provides information on children (younger than age 16) and older adolescents (ages 16-19) visiting National Forest lands.



To collect data about characteristics of recreational activities engaged in, and facilities used by, visitors to National Forests and Grasslands in the United States.

Target Population

Visits by persons participating in one or more recreation activities on a National Forest or Grassland site in the United States.


Began in 2000. Conducted in 5-year cycles. Most recent cycle was 2012-2016.


U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Special Note(s)

Visitors must be participating in a recreation activity on Forest Service managed lands for their information to be included in the survey. Other activities, such as simply passing through Forest Service lands, do not count as visits.

USDA Forest Service
Recreation, Heritage & Wilderness Resources
Mail Stop 1125
1400 Independence Ave. SW
Washington, D.C. 20090-1125
(202) 205-1706


Sample Design

Cross-sectional. Stratiļ¬ed multistage sampling design based on rotating panels over a 5-year sampling timeframe. Learn more about the sampling design.

Sample Size

Approximately 110,000 interviews completed with visitors to National Forest System lands and 198,900 total estimated site visits from 2005 through 2009.

Special Note(s)

Income information was collected for approximately one third of the sample.
All U.S. national forests are sampled one time in 5 years.

Caution should be used in interpreting any comparisons of results for the 2005-2009 and 2000-2004 survey periods. Differences cannot be interpreted as a trend. Several method changes account for the differences, for both visitation estimates and visit characteristics.

Key Variables


NameMethods of Assessment
Annual household incomeInterview/questionnaire

Physical Activity-Related

NameMethods of Assessment
Whether visit was a wilderness visitInterview/questionnaire
Participation in specific recreational activity (e.g., downhill skiing, hiking/walking, bicycling, backpacking, swimming) and main activityInterview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Zip code for visitorInterview/questionnaire


NameMethods of Assessment
Annual frequency of visits to National Forest siteInterview/questionnaire
Duration of visit (in days)Interview/questionnaire
National Forest site visitedInterview/questionnaire
Whether the visitor is local (traveled less than 50 miles to the site)Interview/questionnaire

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Obtain data by completing a data request form.


Free of charge

Special Note(s)

The most recent year for which data are available is not necessarily the most recent year this survey was conducted.


Geocode Variable(s)

Region and latitude/longitude of National Forest site; state, county, and zip code of visitor.

Existing Linkages

None found.

Special Note(s)

National Forest sites are categorized by the following 10 geographic regions: Northern, Rocky Mountain, Southwest, Intermountain, Pacific Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Southern, Eastern, Alaska.

Selected Publications


U.S. Department of Agriculture. National Visitor Use Monitoring Results . USDA Forest Service National Summary Report. Washington (DC): National Forest Service, April 2010.