Western Tourism: Can Paradise Be Reclaimed?

Clare A. Gunn

ISBN: 1-882345-44-4


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Since the explosion of autocamping travel in the 1920s, America's West has remained a popular travel destination. Initially caught by surprise by this sudden growth, the area's consequent responses to this increase in tourism were not fully planned or developed.

This important new book, written by an authority in the field, identifies the changes in tourism in the West and what these signify for future planners and developers. Thi book focuses on four major destinations—Arizona, California, Oregon, and Yellowstone—that were as popular in the 1920s as they are today. To provide perspective, the author has included a case of autocamping travel to the West in 1929; this case allows the reader to compare and contrast characteristics of tourism to the area in the 1920s with those of today. After reviewing and evaluating past tourism developments, Gunn offers detailed guidelines for sustainable tourism. Specific recommendations for better planning and development of this popular tourist destination are provided. Emphasis is placed on the future role of landscape architects, as they have historically had a significant impact on land design in the region.

The main conclusion of this book is that in spite of some negative impacts of past tourism development in the West, the region is capable of recovering its image as a travel destination paradise. Described are the issues now constraining progress and specific opportunities for creating new environmental sustainable tourism. This work is based on a thorough examination of seven decades of tourism change and personal travels in the region. Emphasis is placed on the need for new vision, leadership and planning, especially the potential role of landscape architects for future land planning and environmental protection. The text is supported by fifty well selected illustrations. The book is of value to tourism agencies, planners, and developers of tourism as the guide for future tourism development in the West.


Chapter 1: Western Tourism: Boom and Strain

Chapter 2:  929 Western Tour: Part I

Chapter 3:  The Northern Arizona Destination

Chapter 4: 1929 Western Tour: Part II

Chapter 5: The Northern California Destination

Chapter 6: 1929 Western Tour: Part III

Chapter 7: Oregon and Columbia River Destination

Chapter 8: 1929 Western Tour: Part IV

Chapter 9: Yellowstone National Park Destination

Chapter 10: Sustainability Challenges for Planners & Designers

Chapter 11: Meanings for the Future

Book Review

In an endorsement for the book, Jere Stuart French, F.A.S.L.A., writes:

Clare Gunn is a blessed Maverick of the tourist industry.  Where so many books on tourism tend toward dry cost accounting and development practices, this author has written passionately and instructively on the broad themes of preserving our natural Western heritage, and the means of sustaining federal wilderness areas by far-sighted tourism planning.

It should be noted that this is not a book aimed exclusively at the tourist industry. Almost anyone with an appreciation for the wilderness of the West will find it both enlightening and easily readable.

The book is divided evenly between an account of these Western places, their usages, the persons involved, and their histories, and a 1929 carcamping adventure through the West with the author's family. Fro some readers these personal glimpses of the West experiences firsthand from the long ago era of early motor cars are likely to be the most intriguing chapters in this remarkable book. It is a must read for the tourist industry, and should also be required reading for landscape architects employed by the public sector, as well as for all employees of the National Park Service, the US forest Service, BLM, and Western State Parks.

Dr. Gunn’s career of sixty years has focused on balancing environmental protection as a foundation for tourism with tourist business success. Based on obtaining the first doctoral degree in landscape architecture and many years of research, teaching and consulting, he is recognized as a pioneer in tourism planning and education. He has served as a consultant throughout the United States and Canada as well as many countries overseas. His lectures, books, and other writings have stimulated better planning of tourism the world over. His many honors include named Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects, Lifetime Achievement Award from the Travel and Tourism Research Association and listing in Who's Who in America.