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PERCEIVED VALUE OF GEOCACHING EXPERIENCES IN YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK.

Introduction

Tourist attraction has been defined as a factor that draws tourists away from their customary environment (Lew, 1987). Botti, Peypoch, and Solonandrasana (2008) suggested that there are two types of attraction classifications, one being "the intrinsic nature of the attraction (natural or human origin, managed by the public or private sector)" and the other on those focusing "on the tourist's perception of the attraction." This study focuses on the latter, to understand how geocaching, as a secondary attraction complex enhances the experience in Yellowstone National Park (YNP), which is an established heritage site and receives over 3.8 million visitors annually (NPS, n.d.).

Geocaching has become a very popular activity since the use of Global Positioning Systems (GPS) becoming ubiquitous among travellers today. Geocaching is the system of hiding a container or item in a specific location then publishing its location coordinates on a geocaching website for other "geocachers" to locate using GPS devices. In essence, it is a GPS-enabled treasure hunt/search. Geocaching.com serves as the primary source for identifying and registering geocache sites by providing specific information and guidelines for participants.

The first known geocache was registered in 2000 (Geocaching.com, n.d.-a) and today there are approximately three million active caches worldwide (Geocaching.com, n.d.-b). The increasing number of caches and their potential role in tourism has facilitated the foundation for this research. The primary purpose of this research is to gain a broader understanding of the visitor's experience with geocaching as a secondary attraction complex to YNP. Results of this study can be utilized to enhance the visitor experience, increase the duration of visits, and guide visitors to specific locations within the National Park.

Literature review

Geocaching: a secondary tourism attraction

Geocaching is a technology-enabled treasure hunt; however, it is worth elaborating further on this basic description and key variants of the "game" to better understand the findings. A typical cache consists of a small waterproof container which can be hidden anywhere on earth. The latitude and longitude coordinates are recorded and then posted on the Geocaching.com website. Geocache containers contain "treasures," which typically consists of a novelty item, trinket, small toy, coin, etc. Participants in the "game" exchange their own personal "treasure" if one is taken from the cache, thus leaving something in return for the next participant. The website Geocaching.com has individual pages for each cache stored on the system. Besides the coordinates of the cache, the webpage contains contextual information about the cache, the site, maps of starting points, and useful tips for game players. Each cache has two ratings (difficulty to find and difficulty of terrain) with a Likert type scale of (1-5), with five indicating the most difficult. Logs for the cache and any related photos can also be posted on a cache's web page.

There are different types of caches. This study focuses on EarthCache and Virtual Cache. EarthCache is education based involving some sort of geoscience feature of the earth that people visit to learn about. Visitors to EarthCaches can see how geological processes have shaped our planet (Geocaching.com, n.d.-c). Typically, to log an EarthCache, a geocacher will have to provide answers to key questions by observing elements in that specific geoscience feature. A Virtual Cache is rather similar to an EarthCache; however, it is more so about discovering a specific location rather than focusing on a geoscience feature. The requirements for logging a Virtual Cache vary, for example it may require answering a question about the location, taking a picture, or completing a task (Geocaching.com, n.d.-d).

Botti et al. (2008) argued that no one attraction within a destination hold the same importance the same way for individual tourists. Botti et al. (2008) identified that "primary" attractions refer to the central purpose of the visit and therefore, plays a decisive role in destination choice, while "secondary" attractions refer to additional or destination adjacent attractions that seek to enhance the "primary" attraction. For the purpose of this study, YNP is the "primary" attraction, while geocaching serves as the "secondary."

In terms of geocaching, much more has been written. The short or journalistic literature on geocaching is extant. However, few research has been published focusing on theoretical or empirical research examining geocaching and its direct correlation to the tourism industry. Several short articles have provided more information and details about the process of geocaching (Gillin & Gillin, 2010; O'Hara, 2008; Schneider & Chavez, 2012). Whereas, these articles do not explain the "who," "when," "where," and "how" of geocaching and tourism while find difficulty in determining the reason "why." This represents a significant gap in the literature to practitioners (management and marketing) and academicians from a theoretical perspective and application-based approach, which is not well understood nor researched. Therefore, there needs to be more thorough and comprehensive understanding of geocaching tourism.

Perhaps the most significant and well-known research was done by Schneider and Chavez (2012) that administered questionnaire to active geocachers to identify demographic characteristics, quantify an average number of caches discovered and created, and understand underlying participant motivations. However, there have been multiple studies about the great physical and mental health benefits of geocaching due to the puzzle like brain games and the physical aspect of finding a cache (Sherman, 2004; Taylor, Kremer, Pebworth, & Werner, 2010; Wendel et al., 2013). Other studies have explored the potential use of geocaching to foster rural and agricultural tourism (Boys, DuBreuil White, & Groover, 2017), as well as use of geocaching in tourism and education, and the personal experience attached with geocaching (Ihamaki, 2015).

Ihamaki (2015) provides a greater understanding of geocaching as a significant component of education and tourism, as well as the key elements of experience. Geocaching is an easy way to adventure in nature or around a city, see new places, and learn fascinating facts. It allows mental and physical stimulation, as most caches are not necessarily easy to find due to a mental puzzle or physical process. Ihamaki (2015) also provides a better understanding of geocaching by incorporating the mental and emotional aspects attached to geocaching. For example, a geocacher can gain a greater understanding of their own self-concept and self-esteem when having to complete physical and mental tasks that can be rather challenging. It forces geocachers to create their own experience and allows them to link these experiences to memories, people, emotions, feelings, and stories (Ihamaki, 2015).

Geocaching is also being used in schools. Interestingly enough, mathematic, history, and language educators have added geocaching to their lessons and believe the skills students learn during geocaching can be used in everyday life. Educators have used geocaching to encourage students to use their problem-solving skills and use mathematical concepts in real life (Lary, 2004; Trimpe & Hughes, 2005), read and understand maps and integrating historical information (Schlatter & Hurd, 2005) and help their students develop new life skills and become more innovative (Matherson, Wright, Inman, & Wilson, 2008).

Ihamaki (2008) claims that geocaching is an innovative way of creating experiences that provide facilities, destinations, and services with a unique opportunity to meet the new needs of the tourism business. Using geocaching in tourism has the potential to be implemented in virtually any destination and be incorporated with any activity. This type of "creative" tourism plays an important role, because geocaching tourists want to engage in unique experiences and it is relatively easy to develop a cache and create a new experience in any location (Ihamaki, 2015). Geocaching has been gradually integrated within tourism (Boys et al., 2017). It is argued that these rural geocaching programs can increase tourism numbers, peak interest and generate educational opportunities for rural and agricultural areas, and create partnerships of businesses that operate within these rural and agricultural areas. Agritourism already has a perception of yielding larger environmental, sociocultural and economic benefits, as well as in creating education and fun experiences (Boys et al., 2017). This study was able to solidify how beneficial geocaching would be for rural and agricultural areas and their surrounding communities.

Even with all of these studies, there still remains a research gap on geocaching, especially knowing its full potential to the tourism industry. This exploratory study addresses the research gap in understanding visitor experience practicing geocaching while conceptualizing geocaching as a secondary tourism attraction complex.

Prospects of geocaching in Yellowstone National Park

Scholars have defined the motivation of tourists to travel in numerous ways. Current research has emphasized that the motivation of tourists is one of the most important characteristics within tourism studies. Motivations for travel are typically considered the first priority of travel actions; thus, it serves as an essential concept to be considered and observed when examining the behavior of tourist (Pearce & Lee, 2005). Several motivation theories exist including push and pull, Maslow's hierarchy of needs, travel career patterns and psychocentric and allocentric tourism motivators (Cook, Hsu, & Taylor, 2018). Travel motivation factors are divided into two different categories: push factors and pull factors (Dann, 1977; Dann, 1981; Khuong & Ha, 2014).

Khuong and Ha (2014) state that push and pull factors explain people's traveling behavior because they are either pushed by their own internal forces and/or pulled by the external forces of destination attributes. The concept is that travelers are both "pushed" to travel by personality traits or individual needs, wants, and "pulled" to travel by appealing attributes of the travel destination (Cook et al., 2018). Push motivation helps to explain the desire to travel while pull motivations are useful for explaining the actual destination choice (Cook et al., 2018). In short, a motivation push factor is "something" that motivates or creates a desire to do something (Crompton, 1979; Dann, 1977, Kim, Lee, & Klenosky, 2003; Khuong & Ha, 2014; Phau, Lee, & Quintal, 2013; Prayag & Ryan, 2011). In this case, that "something" is geocaching and the motivation would be for geocaching in Yellowstone. Previous studies have found health, socializing, nature appreciation, and learning to all be push factors for traveling to National Parks (Kim et al., 2003).

On the other hand, pull factors draw someone to a location, whether it be for the unique features, attractions, or attributes of the destination itself (Kim et al., 2003; Klenosky, 2002; Phau et al., 2013; Khuong & Ha, 2014; Prayag & Ryan, 2011). The scenery, historic and cultural resources are all examples of pull factors (Kim et al., 2003). For this study, we will be focusing on pull factors. The emphasis on pull factors is because geocaching is a secondary tourism attraction in this specific case. It is assumed that geocachers do not visit Yellowstone to specifically engage in geocaching, rather they visit Yellowstone for other various reasons including nature, site seeing, hiking, etc., with geocaching being a secondary activity during their stay. Therefore, geocaching is not necessarily pushing someone to visit Yellowstone, rather it is pulling geocachers to very specific locations within the National Park.

There are many primary attractions and activities that are serving as pull factors to YNP. These include Yellowstone's ecosystem, which is part of the largest remaining continuous stretch of mostly undeveloped pristine land in the continental United States. There are 290 waterfalls in the park that are at least 15 feet tall, the highest reaching 380 feet. Yellowstone is home to half of the world's geothermal features and two-thirds of the world's geysers (NPS, n.d.). There are over 1,700 native and 170 non-native species of trees, along with an estimated 8,000 rare flowering plants. Yellowstone is the finest megafauna's habitat in the lower 48 states. It is home to 311 species of birds and nearly 60 species of mammals, including the newly reintroduced gray wolf, the threatened Canadian lynx, and the largest public herd of American bison in the United States (NPS, n.d.). If the natural beauty and wildlife does not draw someone in, then the history and culture surely does. There are more than 1,600 tribal cultural sites in the park and about two dozen sites that are a part of the National Register of Historic Places (NPS, n.d.; Schullery & Whittlesey, 2003).

Methodology

Site selection

Site selection was complicated by the global adoption of geocaching, as there are caches in about 180 countries. Therefore, the vetting process for the site selection was rigorous. Pull factors for nature-based activities were the basis for site selection. Further, the site had to be active and large enough to have numerous caches in unique areas, allowed for mental, social and physical stimulation. National Parks in the USA were chosen because the National Park Service hit a new record of 325 million total nationwide visitors in the year of 2016 alone (NPS, n.d.). Out of the 59 National Parks in the United States (NPS, n.d.), it was narrowed down to those parks in the continental United States for accessibility and availability, leaving 47 parks for comparison based on the establishment date, acreage, annual visitor count, and geocaches within park limits. There are only two parks that were in the top ten all four times: Yellowstone and Yosemite (NPS, n.d.). Although Yosemite receives more annual visitor than Yellowstone, Yellowstone is older, larger, and most importantly, for this study, has most caches out of any other park.

Textual information and text frequency analysis

The text data was analyzed manually. Every comment, from each cache, was manually entered into Microsoft Excel. From the 72 sites, there were 6,211 comments, with an average of 86 comments per site and a range of 0 to 524. The temporal limit was defined as logs entered during 2016, this way the data was both as recent as possible while being a complete representation of a full season of visitors in the park. Each comment was placed in an excel document where a VBScript was ran generating the frequency of all words. Some words were used thousands of times (e.g., WE=5,815 times, YELLOWSTONE=2,546 times, THANKS=2,327 times), while many words were only used once. Several steps were needed to achieve the best interpretable results from this text-mining analysis:

* Some words did not contribute to a meaningful interpretation of the results and were removed, e.g., words such as 'is,' 'a,' 'an,' 'the,' 'I,' 'of,' 'to,' 'in,' 'and,' 'you.'

* Inconsistencies caused by singular and plural nouns were resolved, e.g., 'photo' and 'photos,' etc.

* Avoiding separate counting where the spellings of attraction sites were inconsistent.

* Grouping terms with similar meanings, e.g., 'photograph' and 'photo.'

* Removing words where the usage was too varied to clearly define a theme.

* Words mentioned fewer than 72 times were not considered because 72 caches were used for data collection and only words with the potential to have been mentioned once at each site were of interest.

Coding and analysis

The selected qualitative research process could be classified as thematic analysis. Braun and Clarke (2006, p. 83) defined thematic analysis as "a method for identifying, analyzing and reporting patterns (themes) within the data. It minimally organizes and describes your data set in (rich) detail." For this purpose, VBScripts run as macros within Excel were used to find word frequencies and determine the most used words in the comments to develop a thematic understanding. The aim was to find the basic relative content, but not to explain it. The coding was done manually; line by line to safeguard no information was missed. To ensure reliability and validity of the coding, each team member coded the text separately. Double-checks and group discussions were used in the coding process, and resulting themes were unanimously decided by team members.

Findings

The process of collecting and coding the comments yielded organized themes and sub-categories that could then be used to create inferences about the perceived value of geocaching in Yellowstone National Park (See Table 1). Themes were created based on the three major interaction points, the destination, the interface between social media and the tourist (the geocaching app), and the tourist. Each theme's sub-categories were created as patterns emerged through words with similar meanings. Identified themes include Locality, Geocache-Based Experience, and Geocachers' Self-Expression. In total 57,567 words were considered with 192 unique words, with Geocache-Based Experience and Geocachers' Self-Expression each having about 40% of total words (36.64% and 37.87%, respectively) among the themes. Locality was less prominent (25.50% of words). Words that describe the geocachers, their feelings, and who they geocached with were the most important topics. Interestingly, the two sub-categories with the largest percentage of overall words were Nomenclature with 17.84% of all words (for Locality) and Social Value with 17.29% of all words (for Geocacher's Self-Expression). It is noteworthy that the largest sub-category is within the smallest theme group (Locality). The most important aspects to the geocachers are companionship, the destination itself, and the app, which works as an interface between these two interaction points (Table 1).

Locality

Locality focused on the destination itself and includes descriptions of the destination's visual appearance, nomenclature (specific mentions of features, animals, locations, and geological aspects), and accessibility (Table 1). These sub-categories are important because they encapsulate the primary facets of a national park, or virtually any other destinations- visual, physical, and access.

Locality represented 25% words, which is significant because it shows that geocachers interact with their surroundings. There was an expression of visual appreciation (5.75%) among geocachers, for example, comments included the words like 'amazing,' 'impressive,' and 'fantastic.' Likewise, nomenclature (18%) was a significant sub-category for locality, where they stated 'bison' and 'elk', with other words attached to particular caches like 'Old,' 'Faithful,' 'grand,' and 'geysers,' or 'Mammoth,' 'hot,' and 'springs.'

Lastly, accessibility was mentioned in less than 2%. However, it is still important to see how these caches were accessed, whether that be by 'walking' or 'RV.'

Geocache-based experience

Geocache-Based Experience represents the descriptions of the application interface. These words demonstrated a certain amount of familiarity with the application and community. Other important aspects of this theme included a preparatory phase where geocachers used words to discuss the way they found the geocache, as well as their preparation for their day. Discovery indicates the interaction point, explaining the process of discovering the cache using information provided by the application. Challenges refer to the difficulty in finding the caches; the caches are rated on a difficult level from one to five. The majority of the caches in this study were rated 2.5 or less. However, the challenge was not seen as a bad thing, rather as an enjoyable part of the experience.

Discovery (finding the cache) was expressed with words such as 'found' and 'exploring.' Geocaching community represents 11% of all words, which indicates interaction with the community, examples include 'thanks,' 'answers,' and 'sent.' Community specific lingo was even higher with almost 15% of all comments, with emic slang such as 'TFTC' (Thank you for the Cache) and 'cache' (instead of geocache). Finally, yet importantly, the challenge words like 'worth,' 'required,' and 'weather' were mentioned in about 2%. It is important to understand that those who met challenges did not see them as negative, rather making their experience enjoyable and worthwhile (Table 1).

Geocachers' self-expression

Geocachers' Self-Expression revealed to be the most interesting descriptive demographic about the geocachers in the study, i.e., they do not geocache alone. This is significant to planners and policy makers to consider when implementing and regulating geocaching. There are environmental implications to having groups of people going through the wild; however, there are also economic benefits to having groups as opposed to individuals. Destination planners need to use this behavior to their advantage and plan accordingly to protect their resources while catering to groups. While Geocachers' Self-Expression has more directly usable information for destination planners than the other categories. However, geocachers are at the destination because of the other two theme groups. The remaining sub-categories in Geocachers' Self-Expression describe the geocachers reactions to the experience as well as their trip planning and home. Many geocachers are serious tourists and a market of international travelers. Although few words on the comments were locations distant from Yellowstone, they represent tourists willing to travel to remote areas for a sense of adventure and could potentially be the first wave of exploratory tourist that new destinations can market to.

About 38% of words used were from the five sub-categories under Geocachers' Self-Expression. First, there was a sense of representation where people expressed where they come from with words such as 'Germany,' 'Denmark,' and 'Canada.' Then there was the emotional expression of words like 'enjoyed,' 'loved,' and 'favorite' and with that, the leisure factor words such as 'vacation,' 'trip,' and 'photo.' Geocachers were also expressing their perceived value of the investment, with words such as 'morning,' 'night,' and 'first,' which indicates the amount of time spent at the park, time of the day, and frequency of geocaching. The most prominent category in this theme, however, was social value with nearly 17%. The comments included words like 'we,' 'family,' and 'together' showing sociability associated with geocaching. Therefore, it is more common to go geocaching in a group than individually.

Conclusions

The study highlights the perceived value of geocaching experience in Yellowstone through thematic analysis of the comments available for every active cache existing within the border of the park during the year 2016. Geocaching as a "secondary" tourism attraction complex resulted in three themes: Locality, Geocache-Based Experience, and Geocachers' Self-Expression. These three themes could be of interest for destination managers, because it provides an understanding of the experience, a "secondary" attraction such as geocache, have in a destination like YNP. It gives an understanding of the behavior of geocachers by giving meaning to how they geocache and their perceived value of attractions. This helps the destination managers to attract geocachers, enhance their experience, and increase their stay in the destination while increasing return rate. Word of mouth advertisement becomes beneficial for the destination promotion, because geocachers are likely to encourage their friends and family to visit Yellowstone as a "primary" attraction, or even geocache as a "secondary" attraction.

When planning a geocaching campaign in a tourist destination, it is important to remember that the geocachers can be disruptive to the local environment as well as trigger liability issues, as they tend to go to off trail. If well-implemented and maintained, geocaching can be an important driving force for prospective tourists especially groups; including it in marketing seems prudent. Findings indicate that geocaching takes people off the beaten path and takes geocachers to unique places they would not see without geocaching. Geocaching can be implemented in many places and utilize it to draw people to different places, which could help a business or a struggling industry somehow. There is potential out there for geocaching and those who use it.

Destination managers should focus on marketing geocaches to people already in the geocaching community via special geocaching events and targeted marketing, which might include going to geocaching forums and creating geocaches specific to the destination. Another benefit to this managed approach is creating the caches internally and fostering guest interaction with the destination mitigates the risk of having geocaches placed in dangerous locations. This interaction can also be used as an educational experience for visitors coming to the destination. Although the majority of tourists are not geocaching, enough are that it is worth planning for, and any forward-thinking destination manager should include plans and promotion for secondary tourism complexes as another avenue of guest satisfaction and retention.

Geocaching is becoming increasingly popular and there is great potential interest in geocaching programs throughout the entire tourism industry, not only National Parks. Results of this study show how popular geocaching is and how it can be beneficial to a tourism destination. This study was able to expand upon O'Hara's (2008) understanding of geocaching motivators and the social context of geocaching, as well as Ihamaki's (2015) user experience. Geocaching not only involves physical process, but also mental and emotional components. We were able to bring a greater inside look at how geocaching is perceived by geocachers, comprehend their emotions and feelings through their comments and caches logged, and gain a better understanding of the social aspect of geocaching. It is important to note that most National Parks in the United States are in vast rural landscapes. This study supports the fact that rural landscapes such as National Parks possess a great potential to develop geocaching tourism while it can be a vital driving force to foster rural and agricultural tourism as argued by Boys et al. (2017).

Contributions and management implications

Geocaching brings new opportunities as well as challenges, specifically to National Parks. Evidently, there is a paucity of research in geocaching where this exploratory study provides some findings, which are applicable to land managers, city planners, and tourism organizations towards implementation of geocache tourism.

Considering the growing popularity of geocaching, it can be used to draw visitors to new locations, maybe even disperse visitors to different parts of the park during the busy season. The park has a lot to offer and with Yellowstone being so big; it is easy to miss some of the best aspects. Therefore, geocaches can be placed in certain areas to draw more people to something that is not as popular. Although the study did not focus on how a National Park could use geocaching to their advantage, there is evidence that these comments may be useful. Many comments from all over the park included thanks and praises because the caches took them to areas they would not have normally seen. One geocacher stated, "Thank you for giving us a reason to take the off the road beaten path. We almost missed out on this beautiful area. Tftc" (Cache Name: Firehole Falls-Rhyolite Lava Flow). Similarly, another geocache user mentioned, "Thanks to this earthcache we figured out some interesting details while answering the questions. We would not have seen the location without it. Thanks for taking us there," (Cache Name: Hydrothermal Confluence). There were numerous comments expressing their thankfulness for allowing them to explore nuances of the park.

Many geocachers expressed that geocaching took them off the beaten path and to places they would have never found. This could lead to issues; anyone can create a cache, and these caches can be set up anywhere, which can be dangerous for geocachers along with the park officials. Permission from park managers is required before any geocache can be placed on parklands. However, geocaches can quickly become unmanageable. Unless the park officials are constantly monitoring a geocaching database, it is easy for geocaches to go unnoticed by park officials. It was stated in multiple comments that the park rangers were unsure of caches and had no knowledge of geocaching. This shows that there could be a disconnect between the park officials, rangers, and geocachers.

Often geocaching taking people off the beaten path can be very dangerous in a park filled with wild animals. It is not common, yet it is not uncommon for the animals of Yellowstone to attack tourists. In 2015, bison mauled five tourists on five separate occasions; typically, there are about two bison mauling incidents a year (Wright, 2015; NPS, n.d.). Since 2010, grizzly bears have killed six people. The animals of Yellowstone are all-wild and act upon instinct. However, the fauna is not the only thing in Yellowstone that can be deadly. Since 1870, there have been 22-recorded deaths due to injuries related to thermal pools and geysers in the park (Guarino, 2017). As far as park officials know, none of these attacks happened during geocaching. However, these instances show how dangerous a destination like Yellowstone can be and demonstrate why geocaching policy is pertinent. Not only does Yellowstone need to work to protect their visitors, but also themselves from lawsuits.

Limitation and future research

The limitation of this study is that YNP was the only site examined. Considering approximately three million active caches throughout 180 different countries, we only examined 72 sites. In addition, demographics were not examined in the study. Although demographic information was embedded within the comments used for coding, there was not enough data collected to determine exactly what demographics were geocaching within Yellowstone. Data was only collected from 2016; however, caches have been places in Yellowstone as early as 2000. The themes might be different if another timeline was analyzed. A different location could have altered the findings as well. The themes may also be different from National Parks to cities to rural areas. This leaves the door open for future studies, especially considering the limited research on geocaching. This is a start, however, limited. There are few studies regarding how and why people geocache, which is limited in scope. Mostly, there is a lack of research on geocache and its potential role as a secondary attraction to promote tourism destination worldwide.

Future studies can examine the "hows" and "whys" of geocaching but on a broader scale. Studies can be conducted in multiple locations and multiple different settings, ranging from rural areas to National Parks to heavily populated cities. The inclusion of demographic information would also make for future research because it is unclear as to who is geocaching. If the "who" is determined that could help businesses, agencies, etc. understand potential tourists segment and assist in the planning processes. Considering the growing popularity of geocaching, another potential avenue for research would be to examine the level of involvement among geocachers (e.g., one being a low involvement and five being a high involvement). Understanding the level of involvement among geocachers can assist destination managers in implementing better marketing strategies based on geocachers' motivations and experiences. Whereas, a comparative study can clarify involvement and experiences regarding different types of geocaching. Further, different destinations offer unique experiences. Therefore, it would also be interesting to see if motivations and involvement differ among geocachers for cultural sites, natural sites, or urban cities.

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Hailie PELKA (*), William SCHUELKE (*), Marisol GOMEZ (*), Elizabeth SANTELISES (*), Birendra KC (**), Daniel SPEARS (*)

(*) Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #311100, Denton, TX 76203-5017, US.

(**) Department of Hospitality and Tourism Management, University of North Texas, 1155 Union Circle #311100, Denton, TX 76203-5017, US, birendra.kc@unt.edu.

Received on February 15, 2018.

Accepted on October 22, 2018.
Table 1 Words representing sub-categories within the three themes:
Locality, Geocache-Based Experience, and Geocachers' Self-Expression

Theme        Sub-             Representative
             Categories       Words
             Visual           beautiful, nice,
             Appreciation     amazing, took,
             (5.75%)          view, seeing,
                              features, sights,
                              pretty,
                              impressive,
                              beauty,
                              landscape,
                              colors
             Nomenclature     Yellowstone,
             (17.84%)         park, national,
                              old, geyser,
                              grand, faithful,
                              Montana,
                              springs,
                              canyon,
                              Wyoming,
                              Bison, erupt,
                              mountain
             Accessibility    road, trail,
             Factors (1.91%)  route, bridge,
                              car, parking, RV
Locality
(25.50%)
             Preparatory      walk, stopped,
             Phase (3.71%)    driving, hike,
                              placing, drove,
                              look, showing,
                              heading, taking,
                              gathered, views
             Discovery        found, see,
             (5.38%)          find, different,
                              exploring,
                              finding,
                              learning,
                              experience,
                              discover, map,
                              lesson
             Geocaching       thanks,
             Community        answers, sent,
             (11.21%)         greetings,
                              thank, answer,
                              send, questions,
                              including,
                              emailed,
                              submitted
             Community        TFTC, cache,
             specific lingo   EarthCache,
Geocache-    (14.54%)         virtual, caching,
Based                         logged, cachers
Experience
(36.64%)
             Challenges       interesting,
             (1.89%)          able, worth,
                              required,
                              weather,
                              managed
             Sense of         Germany,
             representation   Denmark,
             (2.36%)          Canada, LA,
                              Denver, Ireland,
                              Utah, Seattle,
                              Mexico,
                              Washington,
                              Czech Republic,
                              Austria
             Emotional        great, enjoyed,
             Expression       fun,
             (6.22%)          favorite,
                              wonderful,
                              awesome, fav,
                              loved, love,
                              best, again,
                              enjoy, history,
                              enjoying, wow,
                              lovely
             Leisure Factors  trip, USA,
             (5.20%)          vacation, info,
Geocachers'                   tour,
Self-                         information,
Expression                    pictures, picture,
(37.87%)                      travel, photos
             Social Value     we, us, our,
             (17.29%)         family,
                              together,
                              people, mom,
                              friends, dad,
                              team, wife, sister
             Perception of    day, time,
             perceived        today, week,
             value of         first, during,
             investment       morning, years,
             (6.80%)          early, morning,
                              spring, hours,
                              night, minutes

Theme        Cache Name (Italicized) and
             Representative Verbatim
             1. Firehole Falls - Rhyolite Lava Flow:
             Another stop. On our way south.
             Beautiful waterfall! TFTC and
             Greetings from Hong Kong!
             2. Yellowstone Forever #4: Very neat!
             I wouldn't have noticed this without
             your cache. The site seems to be
             nicely maintained. TFTC
             3. One of Many: The area is
             beautiful; the thought of how this
             road was built is mind-boggling. I
             don't think it could be built that fast
             today. And the workmanship that
             went into building...truly amazing.
             Answers have been sent. TFTC.
             1. Grand Geyser Gazing: We were
             fortunate enough to see Grand
             Geyser erupt for about 15 minutes
             around 1 p.m. on 6/11/16. Truly
             amazing!
             2. White Dome Geyser EarthCache:
Locality     This geyser is much different that
(25.50%)     some of the others we saw erupt.
             Thanks for the geology lesson!
             3. Yellowstone's Liberty Cap: Wow!
             Mammoth Springs is by far our
             favorite geothermal site in
             Yellowstone. TFTC!
             1. Orange Spring Mound
             EarthCache: This was an unexpected
             find. We saw the road was open
             and thought, hmmm what's back
             here? I had not loaded any caches to
             my phone because we had not
             planned on coming this way.
             However, I am glad we did! Sent
             answers to CO. TFTEC
             2. Yellowstone Forever #3: Lovely,
             quiet diversion! Had to take a longer
             route to stay away from a bison near
             the trail, but it was fun to discover
             this little piece of history. Wish we
             could learn more! Thanks for the
             cache!
             3. Yellowstone Petrified Tree: The
             lazybones in our car declined to
             leave the comfort of the air
             conditioning so I went alone. Shame
             there's only one left but impressive
             nonetheless.
             1. Yellowstone- A Must Visit Place
             Felt a little funny walking across the
             dock with all the government
             employees standing around
             watching to see what we were
             doing. Thanks for the hide. 2. The Lake that Drains to Two
             Oceans: Visiting from Ohio and
             stopped by this area to grab the
             virtual and this one. Great spot and
             very informative (answers sent)! We
             probably would have driven right by
             if it weren't for the caches. TFTEC!!
             3. Go Ahead: Beautiful hike! The
             kids built a snowman in July and got
             a huge kick out of it.
             1. Hydrothermal Confluence: Found
             with family. TFTC!!
             2. Sheepeater Cliff his was one of
Geocache-    the most unexpected and cool things
Based        we saw at Yellowstone. it was great
Experience   to see these up close... answers sent:
(36.64%)     thanks for the fun! :)
             3. Roaring Mountain of Yellowstone:
             Yet another interesting find during
             our Yellowstone adventures. Found
             this one on our 2nd day of
             exploring. The kids were grumpy,
             so they stayed in the car, so my
             husband and I were able to enjoy
             this view in peace. TFTC.
             1. Old Photo #2: WELL WORTH the
             steep hike! Amazing view. No
             crowds. BLISS! Thanks for bringing
             us up here!
             2. Yellowstone Talus Slope: answers
             sent: thanks for bringing us to this
             interesting spot! :)
             3. Green Dragon Hot Springs: During
             our holidays in the Yellowstone NP,
             we visited this nice spot. TFTC!
             Greetings from Austria
             1. Yellowstone- Very Bad Breath:
             Super cool spot! Tftc
             2. Ribbitt: Last cache for the day.
             Phew what an adventure and what
             amazing scenery! TFTC and greetings
             from Hong Kong!
             3. Ojo Caliente EarthCache: Found it
             during 89-days big geotrip to USA,
             Canada, Mexico with Sindy, Marci.
             We logged as "MT". Thanks for nice
             caches from Brno city in Czech
             republic EU.
             1. Captive Tourist: TFTC. Would not
             have stopped for this interesting bit
             of history.
             2. Excelsior Geyser Crater: It's a cold
             day to find this earthcache. Lots of
             rain, wind, and cold weather but
             we still had fun! Thanks for the
             cache.
             3. No Finger Painting Allowed: This
             was our last stop of the day and we
             had to hurry to see the paint pots
             before the sunlight was completely
             gone. We also had to outrun a
             thunderstorm. Managed to get a few
             pics and run back to the car in
             record time. Thanks for the cache!
             1. Julie's Spot: Another nice viewing
             point at the Yellowstone National
             park. Thank you for the cache and
             greetings, Uwe and Anette from
             Germany
             2. Yellowstone Caldera at Madison
             Junction: I have wanted to visit
             Yellowstone for many years. It is
             long way from Denmark. This was
Geocachers'  our last day. I could easily have
Self-        spent more days here. Thank you for
Expression   a fine cache. Greetings from
(37.87%)     Denmark.
             3. Yellowstone- Shoshone Nickname:
             Beautiful trip to Yellowstone
             National Park. I drove down from
             Edmonton, Alberta, though I'm
             originally from New Brunswick
             Canada. I had a great time in the
             park and finding all the earth and
             virtual caches. TFTC!
             1. Yellowstone's Hayden Valley Bears:
             Thank you for this interesting virtual
             cache, we enjoyed it very much.
             Many greetings Germany
             2. Old Faithful Geyser at Yellowstone
             National Park Wonderful day
             today - birthday, Yellowstone
             National Park... TFTC! Greetings
             from Germany
             3. The Stuff of Fairy Tales: Loved it!
             Well worth the hike
             1. Yellowstone National Park
             Thermal Lake Bed: Had a great trip
             through the Park with one of my
             besties. Today we did much of the
             lower loop. Answers to be sent.
             2. Just Downstream: Thanks for this
             Virtual Cache and short hike on our
             6,800-mile vacation road trip
             through 19 states!
             3. Oceans Bound: # 4439 We've
             never crossed the continental divide
             before. Got the necessary info and
             took some photos. Thank you
             Tipidwellers for the cache.
             1. Valley of Eden: Such an amazing
             place. And yes, we actually saw two
             wolves from here! Looks like they
             were play fighting - quite amazing!
             TFTC and greetings from Hong
             Kong!
             2. Tuff Cliff: Hello from Michigan
             travelers! We loaded up the van and
             came out to Yellowstone as a family
             of geocachers. Some of us have
             been before, but not for many
             years... And never as geocachers.
             Tftc :)
             3. Red Spouter: #1056 - Another
             AMAZING spot at Yellowstone! What
             a cool sound walking around this
             thing. It sounded ANGRY. My pic is
             in tigervhaga's log - we logged this
             one together! Thanks again!
             1. Lamar Valley- A Glacier Cut
             Valley: Our last day in the park
             caching where ever we could. Thank
             you for bringing us to this place.
             Again we have learned a geology
             lesson. TFTC
             2. That's Not a Rock!: Thanks for this
             cache, enjoyed my trip to
             Yellowstone and also my first time
             in Wyoming. I hope you received
             my answers for this cache the new
             message center is not what I am
             used to.
             3. West Thumb Geyser Basin and
             Crater: Early morning visit to
             another cool Yellowstone site. Email
             sent. TFTC
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Author:Pelka, Hailie; Schuelke, William; Gomez, Marisol; Santelises, Elizabeth; Kc, Birendra; Spears, Danie
Publication:Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends
Date:Dec 1, 2018
Words:7209
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