For this study, a research team analyzed over 20,000 reservations from 179 popular campsites at Watchman Campground in Utah’s Zion National Park.
Led by assistant professor of outdoor recreation and wildland management Will Rice, PhD, the team found that there were two key factors that guided booking: price and electrical access. Beyond that, factors like how close the site was to a river and how easy it was to get to the site in the first place were also taken into account.
And then came the bathroom consideration. “Anyone who has ever picked a campsite within a campground has certainly dealt with the dilemma of proximity to the restroom,” Rice says in a news release. “We want to be close enough to make navigation easy in the middle of the night, but not so close that we’re smelling it and listening to the door open and close all night.”
Finally, people considered whether sites had trash or recycling stations, water spigots, and shade, as well as nature views.
The researchers then sorted all these factors into three groupings—managerial, social, and ecological—and looked at how popular campsites stacked up.