Brandi Smith Jeffrey Hallo


Park visitors’ experiences and outdoor lighting are linked, but no studies have investigated visitor preferences for lighting in these locations, nor reasons for such preferences.  Visitors’ preferences for lighting may help parks regulate and utilize lighting in a way that both protects resources and provides for quality night experiences.  Brightness, Correlated Color Temperature (CCT), and context affects human perceptions of lighting.  This paper examines these variables and related lighting preferences in settings common to parks: pathways, amphitheaters, and restrooms.  Experimental lighting scenarios were setup at Acadia National Park for brightness ranges typical of each setting.  CCTs were chosen based on those common for outdoor lighting – 3000K (yellow), 4200K (white), and 6000K (blue-white).  Scenario light fixtures were operated by control boxes that enabled participants to switch between the three CCTs and to adjust brightness.  A survey and semi-structure interviews collected data from visitors.  Participants preferred 3000K at both the restroom and amphitheater, but 4200K at the pathway.  A 6000K CCT was undesirable for all locations.  Visitors’ preferred brightness ranged from 1.4 lux on the pathway to 10.5 lux at the restroom.  The most frequently cited reasons for these choices were the desire to provide natural nighttime light levels, maintain natural darkness, create a soothing or subtle setting, and to avoid tripping or falling.  Many participants indicated having both negative and positive experiences in parks caused by outdoor lighting. Parks must address outdoor lighting if they are to comprehensively manage the nighttime environment and nighttime visitor experiences common in these places.




Protected areas, Recreation, Natural Darkness, Visitor Experience

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