The purpose of this investigation was to examine the characteristics of travel to outdoor recreational areas in Kentucky. Data were obtained by means of a license-plate, origin-destination survey at 160 sites within 42 recreational areas and by means of a continuous vehicle counting program at eight of these sites. A computer algorithm was developed for error detection and subsequent adjustment of the volume data as necessitated by occasional malfunction of the traffic recorders and vandalism. Vehicle occupancy was found to depend of the type of recreational area, distance traveled, and vehicle type. Occupancy increased with increasing distance and was greatest for those vehicles pulling camping trailers. Percentages of the various vehicle types were also influenced by the type of recreational area and the distance traveled. The proportion of camping units in the traffic stream increased with increasing distance of travel. In general, trip lengths were quite short as evidenced by the fact that 60 percent of all vehicles traveled less than 50 miles. However, trip-length distribution was highly dependent of the type and location of the recreational area. Analysis of the distribution of traffic over time verified that recreational travel is much more highly peaked than other forms of highway travel and, with the exception of holidays, is concentrated on Sundays during the spring and summer months. This time period appears most appropriate for the design of highways and parking facilities to serve recreational areas. It is highly recommended that future data collection programs be concentrated on the average summer Sunday to enable collection of the maximum amount of usable traffic data with a minimum of effort. Much of the data reported herein can be used in initial efforts to characterize travel to similar types of recreational areas outside of Kentucky.

Report Date


Report Number

No. 350

Digital Object Identifier



Prepared for presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Highway Research Board (January 22-26, 1973).