Claytor Lake is a 4,500 acre impoundment of the New River, located in southwestern Virginia and is ideal for pleasure boating, fishing, swimming, and exploration. In fall 2020 a visitor survey was administered to capture boater and adjacent landowner perceptions of the recreation experience, identify safety concerns, and help managers to informed decisions. Almost 200 surveys were collected over a month of data collection.

Results indicate that respondents tend to be a dichotomous group of “locals” who live on or within a mile of the lake, and “tourists” who travel greater than 50 miles to visit the lake. Additionally, these two groups access the lake differently through either private docks and launches, or public launch sites and the state park, which further complicates water recreation management action on the lake.

Respondents also indicated significantly higher “negative experiences” with PWC and Wake Surf boats. Of these user groups, it appears that more frequent users of the lake were the ones to report more issues with PWC and wake surf boats. Additionally, waterfront owners or those living within one mile of the lake reported the highest levels of concern around wake surf and PWC users. Finally, issues of concern varied across different user groups, and there were issues reported with safety and crowding, which also varied across user groups.

These results are valuable highlights of how user type and distance from a site can influence interests, and concerns, and may therefore be an important component for recreation site manager outreach and collaborative planning efforts. Recommendations include outreach, education, and more cross-contextual communication between user groups and adjacent landowners.


Water recreation management, tourist perceptions, crowding