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Yellowstone Hotspot. Reflections on scenic beauty, ecology, and the aesthetic experience of landscape




Publication type:

Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


Landscape Journal 27:2-08: 291-308.


Some scholars and practitioners have advocated an "ecological aesthetic" to address issues related to the protection of ecologically significant landscapes. Others see these efforts as an attack on traditional ideas of scenic beauty. Perhaps these two ideas of natural beauty are more complementary than is acknowledged. By examining how scenic landscapes are aesthetically experienced, not only might we better understand their value to people but also discover clues for appreciating ecologically significant landscapes that are "scenically challenged" (Saito 1998, 101). In this essay, a phenomenological approach is applied to examine the scenic beauty of Yellowstone National Park through three popular modes of landscape experience: driving, sitting, and walking. Each experiential mode offers different insights. Together they challenge distinctions between scenic and ecological beauty, which pertain more to how natural landscape beauty has been conceptualized and measured in quantitative studies of landscape preference than in how it is experienced through real- time interactions between people and landscape.


Gobster, Paul H. 2008. Yellowstone Hotspot. Reflections on scenic beauty, ecology, and the aesthetic experience of landscape. Landscape Journal 27:2-08: 291-308.

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