Keeping Track of What The National Park Service Is Up To In Your State

A new Internet feature provided by the National Park Service lets you search the country state-by-state to explore the National Park System...and lots of other Park Service-affiliated sites, such as wild and scenic rivers, historic register sites, or historic trails.

As it continues to improve its web presence, the National Park Service has made it easier for you to find information on the parks in your state...as well as on other Park Service-related entities, such as properties on the national register, or wild and scenic rivers, or historic trails.

To find your home state, or any state that interests you for that matter, simply type in the core url of the Park Service -- www.nps.gov/ -- and follow that forward slash with the name of the state you want to explore. So if you wanted to research Utah, it'd look like this: www.nps.gov/utah .

On the resulting landing page you'll find a map of the state dotted with locations of NPS-affiliated sites, whether they be national parks, national monuments, wild and scenic rivers, historic sites, locations on the national register, historic trails, you name it.

Position your cursor over a dot and a box opens explaining what the dot represents. Click on the name, or one of the names, that appears and you'll be taken to a page that provides some background on that specific site.

These pages also offer a list of the Park Service-connected highlights you can find in the specific state you're researching, provide a "by the numbers" breakdown of the Park Service in that state, and even let you add or remove layers of data. So, for instance, if you simply wanted to find the "national parks" in a state and not its battlefields, or national monuments, or projects funded with Land and Water Conservation Funds, you can do that.

This first phase of the project provides details on the following NPS-related programs:

  • Land and Water Conservation Fund
  • American Battlefield Protection Program
  • Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance
  • Save America’s Treasures
  • Preserve America
  • Certified Local Governments
  • Federal Lands to Parks
  • National Register of Historic Places
  • Historic Rehabilitation Tax Incentives.
The bottom line: This is a great resource for doing initial research for a visit.

Comments

Too much information!!

Some of those overlays are clearly included to impress members of Congress, especially all the grant layers. It's nice to have the data online, but it shouldn't dominated the page. And do we really need to know about certified local governments?

Most frustrating: the disappearing national park units. Go to Iowa, Illinois, and Indiana. Now try to find Herbert Hoover, Lincoln Home, and Lincoln Boyhood Home. What was easy on the old interface is now appallingly difficult.

Bob, true, in some states the NPS overloads one with information. But there is an option to clicking on every single dot to see what's beneath it (if you don't know in general where the site in question is located):

In the upper righthand corner of the map there's a button you can click to get a listing of all the units in question in that state.

When I click on New Jersey and narrow the selection down to National Parks in list view I see my beloved Pinelands National Preserve. But in map view it is not there. So what if the Preserve covers just about the whole southern half of the state from Burlington/Ocean counties on down? I want to see a big honkin' orange button there.

The new "map design" of the states to me is an example of trying to fix something that wasn't broken. Where Web 2.0 developers get involved and take something easy to read and make it more complicated. (Just for a point of reference, I am a web product developer.)

99% of the time when looking at the Map view, I want to see the locations of National Parks. In the past this has been a great reference point as my wife and we plan trips, now it requires a "mouse-over" to determine if there is a park there.

For example, if one looks at the Arkansas map at NPS.gov and wants to know where the 7 National Parks are, one would find it extremely difficult if not impossible to find them. I urge the NPS to either go back to the way it was, or to provide clickable labels or some other way find the National Park sites.

Eyouch!

I don't think I like it at all. As others have said, "Too Much Information." This will almost certainly take away much of the usefulness of the website for normal people who just want to learn what they need to know while planning a vacation or short trip.

I note that in Utah, when I clicked off all the extraneous junk in those side boxes, all that was left was the national PARKS. Timpanogos Cave and Golden Spike aren't there.

How about returning to the older version and putting all this extra stuff in a side box that people may access if they are curious. Normal people have no need to know which local governments are "certified." (Whatever that means . . . ) It will probably be only us ABnormal people who are certified NPS nutcases who will have any possible interest there.

I just tried entering the NPS website the traditional way. It came up with all the boxes I had unchecked still unchecked. All that was left was national parks. No national monuments.

But were those boxes unchecked because I'd already done that through Traveler's website?

This will take some more exploring . . . .

Ditto to Jeff's comments (March 15, 11:08 am). The new maps are a mess! They have buried the national park units (especially the small ones) so that you can't even find them! Go back to the way it was!

I'm in line with everyone else. This is way too difficult. I just want to go to a state and find the parks, all the parks and nothing but the parks. This app might be nice once you're there and want to find a particular site. But for trip planning it's horrendous. Put Google on your smart phone and get nps.gov back to the way it was.

Hello:
Bob, I agree with you that all this information seems to be a PR thing ( actually CR- Congressional Relations). Lee, it seems that if you enter the website the traditional way, and use the "Locate a Park by State" feature, the default, active map layer is the one that shows parks, monuments, etc. When one uses the "new" way to enter the site (www.nps.gov/state), it seems that all map layers applicable to that state are selected by default.
M

I don't like the new design at all. In planning a trip, one of the first things I would do is click on a state and see what National Park units were in that state and then plan accordingly. INow, unless I already know what units are in that state (and where they are at) it's almost impossible to easily find the units - especially small ones that don't show up until you zoom in extensively on the map - and if you aren't really sure where a park is, you don't know where to zoom in. I realize there is a box to click (National Parks) and unclick all the rest but again, if there are small parks they aren't very visible on the map and it's become very time conusming using this site to find parks in a given area. I've had to resort to pulling out my NP passport and look up the national park units and plan from there. I

sorry for the typos in the previous post - I saw them right as I hit enter...

Add me to the list of those who don't like the new maps!

I liked the old site better. It was much easier to get to a specific park site and the map was clearer to read.

They have to be kidding. Who cares about certified towns or whatever they called them. The other site was useful. This is not. This is a classic case of let's fix what isn't broken. By the way, in case you've never used it. www.publiclands.org is very useful for trip planning in the western states. It gives you not only the NPS areas, but BLM, NFS and every other possible thing too. It doesn't have a ton of information about the site, but gives you a place to start if, for example, you want to know what's on your route or near the park you plan to visit. It's far more useful than this new NPS mess.

Glad to hear I'm not alone.

How are you finding the old maps? No matter how I go there (type address, find parks by state, use the national map), all I get is the new map. Argh.

It's also very odd that the old map for IL featured the Lincoln sites in Springfield and the historic trails through the state. The new one shows only one "national park" for Illinois, the I&M Canal National Heritage Corridor. Lincoln and the trails are gone.

So the IT people who did the new map have a different definition of a "national park" than the people who did the old map.

Odd.

MM, it doesn't work when you enter by the traditional method.

If I zoom in on Utah, Golden Spike shows up as a blob with no label until you click on it. Timpanogos Cave's blob is so small even at high zoom that it's still nearly invisible.

Kurt, do you have some avenue by which you can get word back to WASO about this? Can we Travelers have some influence through you?

Lee,

The folks in Washington -- and more than a few of the field staff -- read the Traveler regularly, so I'm sure they've already seen the response. But I'll drop them a note just the same.

Also, this version is simply the 'beta,' so there will be fixes down the road. As far as having trouble finding parks, if you click on the "list view" in the upper right-hand corner of the state map, you get a drop down list of the parks, historic sites, historic trails, etc, in the state and you can link directly to the unit.

Good morning,

Thank you for the comments about the new www.nps.gov state pages. We agree that it needs to be easier to find national parks, and we are working to resolve that issue. The map revisions will make them clearer and easier to use with a simpler appearance than the topographic map that now appears.

I will admit that even as an NPS employee, I didn’t realize all the work we do to benefit communities, and I’ve really enjoyed using the site to discover places in my hometown that have a relationship with the NPS.

Please stick with us, and I hope you will find that the changes we're making will improve the maps and your experience on the site. If you’d like to read a short article about the state pages, you can do so on the NPS News Digest.

And, we’re listening and taking your comments to heart, so please continue to share your thoughts.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Mummart National Park Service Office of Communications

Kurt and Jennifer,

First, thank you for replying, its nice to know that people are listening.

Kurt, while I agree that that list view is available it provides no value when it comes to planning a road trip. And I must quibble with your term "beta". Anything that is the de facto page on NPS.gov is "in production".

Jennifer, I do appreciate your response. I do hope that the changes will come soon. The NPS.gov site is an invaluable resource for planning and preparing to visit the Parks. If you are looking for volunteers to provide more specific thoughts or to help test, the Traveler has my email address.

Jeff

Thanks for pointing out the "list view." It works very well. But perhaps it needs to be made much more noticeable -- and maybe given a better label, like "Click here to view all parks in this state."

Greetings,

As the Certified Local Government Coordinator for NPS, I just wanted to explain what these communities do and why they are on the map! These 1800+ communities across the country are certified by NPS as our "local partner" in the Federal preservation movement. They have dedicated preservation commissions that work to protect and promote the historic resources of their town, parish, county, city, borough, etc. As you are planning your road trip, consider stopping and taking a look at the good preservation work they are doing (and maybe grab some lunch or shop!).
This partnership program with local communities is just one of many NPS programs that the public knows little about. So we are hopeful, through this continually improving website, that you will still have great access to the Parks, but also to the other wonderful programs and resources that NPS works to protect for the public every day. Please see http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/clg/index.htm for more information on the CLG program, you might even find out you live in one!

Megan Brown, Certified Local Government Coordinator