This paper describes a novel methodology for generating models of demand for informal outdoor recreation. We analyze visitor data from multiple forest sites across Great Britain. We introduce a wide range of variables typically omitted from most economic demand models of recreation. These include on-site characteristics, and off-site locational drivers of visitation including substitute and complement availability. A Poisson multilevel model is used to model visitor counts, and the methodology is applied to a dataset of more than 10,000 visits to open-access woodland sites. Results confirm it identifies a broader range of demand drivers than previously observed. The use of nationally available explanatory variables enhances the transferability and hence general applicability of the methodology. © 2010 by the authors; licensee Molecular Diversity Preservation International, Basel, Switzerland.