What Do You Want To See In Traveler?

Time for a new survey, folks, and this time I'm curious to learn about what you'd like to read about in Traveler.
Frankly, I've taken things pretty much for granted since I launched this blog back in August of '05 and just continued happily on my way. And, fortunately, visitation has continued to grow. If Feedburner and Sitemeter can be believed, more than 50,000 folks read these pages every month. That's a pretty good community, but I'd like to see if we can't grow it.
Now, I'm always going to focus pretty heavily on issues surrounding the national park system, as I believe it's vital to the future of the system to take a close look at how it's being managed. But I sense that not everyone out there is as interested in the nuts-and-bolts of running the park system and comes to the site seeking information on enjoying the parks.
So, here's your chance to provide some feedback. Do you want more portraits of individual parks? Want to know about good books related to the parks? Are you looking for insider tips on what to do in the parks and how to avoid crowds? Lodging recommendations? Do you want more commentary on park issues? Are you interested in interviews with decision-makers, whether they be park superintendents or Dirk and Mary?
You can either comment directly on this post, or slide over to the right-hand column and take my survey. Whichever route you prefer, please take a few minutes to help guide this blog.

Comments

more sex, drugs, rock'n'roll, and snowmobiles Oh, and I'd especially love to discuss the age of the Grand Canyon for the 3,000 millionth time. Kurt, you have a good formula going. I think the site is popular because: 1. You are a good and fair writer. 2. You have great original reporting. 3. You cover as much as is humanly possible. 4. You have a fairly user-friendly interface (especially like that you made that picture shorter). 5. You highlight the work of others (like me, for instance) in your blog, and this definitely creates a community. If I had my say, I don't think we need to see lodging specials or anything like that. It's quite a change in tone from the rest of what you do, and I don't think this will ever be the best site to help people make their reservations. Sites that have gone that route have generally been the worse for wear over time, though you've definitely resisted the worst of it. Also, I wish there was some way for people who are moved to act based on things you write on your blog to organize and take action. Perhaps, what's needed is a discussion listserve (or does one exist) that increases the sense of ownership over the things you are writing about. It's just a thought, but I think anything that encourages people to act (even if they don't agree with me) is a good thing. This is an amazing blog, and I learn an awful lot from it, especially about places outside of my region (DC) and my heart's desire (Yellowstone and Grand Teton). Jim
Thanks, Jim. Check's in the mail;-)
How about a list of volunteer opportunities in our National Parks? Trip reports instead of hiking suggestions? As Jim posted above, I also would like to see a way for people to organize and take action upon issues you cover here. I have passed on the reading of lodging specials and that sort of thing, does not seem to fit in with the rest.
Since most of are National Park rangers go unrewarded in monetary pay for their hard work and dedicated service, how about promoting a story or two about a extroadinary ranger that devotes beyond the pale of exemplary service in the National Parks...a special article on "The Ranger of The Month"... something special that we all can be proud about. Just a thought.
Kurt, come to think about it again, regarding your article here. I really don't know what more you can do with this very informative blog. In most cases it covers just about every nick and cranny in the National Parks. I guess most of are sedated society today is becoming even more sedated and inoculated with junk food and junk T.V. Less exercise means less interest in the great outdoors, and less environmental interest in the National Parks. When I think of the National Parks, I think of personal physical and spiritual fittest...some how we have failed to get this message across to are kids. You certainly have tried!
To respond to Jim (Jim, I do love reading your writing as well), I like the NP deals that Kurt posts. I see this blog as not only a place to exchange ideas on the Parks -- what's wrong with them, what's right with them, what needs to be fixed, etc. -- but also a celebration of what the parks have to offer. The only way to appreciate the parks is to visit them, and by sending out information on deals that can only encourage folks to visit.
In the open-source software world, they have a phrase, "fork or bloat." Once a piece of software attains a certain level of popularity, users and developers become tempted to stretch the simple elegance and clear purpose of the original design to serve a wider or more general range of uses. The original creator of the software is left with the choice to "fork" (as in, fork in the road) the work into two separate projects, each serving different purposes, or to "bloat", adding more peripheral features to the work until it becomes unwieldy. Of course, they also have the option to do neither, and to continue to refine what they already do best. To explain that in the context of your blog: You're thinking about how you can either expand or refocus your work to appeal to a wider audience. You're coming to a "fork or bloat" decision. Do you want to add more and broader content of more general appeal, or do you want to create another work that serves a separate purpose? What you have created so far is most interesting to the most devoted NPS fans. Those of us who are actually going to read the wonky stuff about budgets and management policies. What you'd like is to appeal to the non-fanatics who might make one casual trip to a park in a year. It sounds like a fork to me. Perhaps you need two companion projects: "National Parks Traveler" as the more easily digestable brand (the USA-Today version), and something like "National Parks Reporter" that's more the WSJ of NPS reportage. Are you up for a second full-time job? Or are you content with growing the audience you have organically, and just filling the niche you're in really well?
Good question, well put SteveSgt. I am liking your focus and your style of reporting on our national parks Kurt. It gets us park enjoyers thinking more about getting involved in our public lands. There are so many "easily digestable" sites out here with step by step lessons on how to enjoy our national parks that I find your site a breath of fresh air.