It's been quite a month or so here at National Parks Traveler, with a new look and new features to grow your national parks community.
First, we launched a slight redesign to the homepage, one that is crisper and easier to navigate.
Second, we created Traveler memberships, a move to encourage you, the reader, to support our efforts to provide independent editorial coverage of the National Park System and the National Park Service.
We considered installing a paywall, one that would give you perhaps a dozen free reads before asking you to pay a fee. But our mission at the Traveler -- "...to educate the general public about the National Park System, increase awareness and understanding of issues affecting the national parks and the National Park Service, and build a stronger advocacy for protection and sound stewardship of the parks." -- can't succeed if we put most of our content behind a paywall.
A better option, we thought, was to seek out members who share our passion for the parks.
The Traveler is an independent voice for covering the parks. We're not aligned with the National Park Service or any other organization. We don't rely on Internet robots to complie our coverage, we generate it manually.
That coverage ranges from pointing out the great experiences that can be had in the parks to tracking National Park Service management decisions and congressional action. Regular readers know that we question Park Service actions when merited, and cover congressional actions that impact the parks.
But we need your support to expand and enhance that coverage. There are no deep pockets here, no foundation underwriting our mission (but if you know of one that would, please forward this article to them.). And one full-time person alone can't possibly cover all the bases.
With your help, however, we can build a robust multimedia outlet with a small staff that not only provides you with the travel information you're searching for pertaining to national parks, but which keeps you informed on management proposals and agency and congressional decisions and which outlines how you can become more involved with protecting the parks by working or supporting friends groups and cooperating associations.
Benefits Of Being A Traveler Member
Members get more than the simple satisfaction of helping keep the Traveler online. Inside the Members' Area are forums that touch on such topics as lodging in the parks to wildlife watching, camping to dining rooms to visit...and to avoid.
Members also benefit from discounts (10-20 percent, depending on the lodge) on lodging in and around parks such as Great Smoky Mountains, Mesa Verde, Denali, Glacier, Bryce Canyon, Olympic, Grand Teton, Glacier Bay, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Like to run rivers? We have an outfitter offering Traveler members 15 percent off regular rates, a discount that can save a group hundreds of dollars on multi-day float trips.
A publisher of outdoor books is providing some nice discounts on purchases by Traveler members, and an outfitter in Yosemite is offering discounts on hiking adventures there and around the world.
Finally, we've created what we believe is a first -- Traveler's Parkipedia, a crowd-sourcing approach to crafting the best national park guides around. Like Wikipedia, these guides are built by readers; Traveler members contribute their knowledge and benefit from that of others.
To those readers who have already signed on, our deepest thanks. To those on the fence, $10 a year is small price for daily parks coverage, much, much less than what newspapers with paywalls are asking. We're far cheaper than a daily Starbucks, a service call from your appliance repairman, or that bag of popcorn at the movie theater. Check us out, and consider supporting our mission.
A New Logo
If you glanced at the photo atop this article, you've noticed Traveler's new logo. It's sharp, clean, and conveys we believe the essence of national parks.
Fixtures And Features
We've tinkered with our menu bar a bit, in part to include a direct link to the benefits members receive. As a result, we've dropped the Pick Your Park button into the Departments section. Just hover your cursor over Departments and you'll find the Pick Your Park tab.
We've also added a page with legal documents pertaining to the parks and the Park Service.
Debuting this Thursday will be Ask A Former Park Superintendent. This column will be written by Costa Dillion, who recently retired from Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. Prior to that assignment, he was the superintendent of Fire Island National Seashore and Homestead National Monument of America.
Costa was also the superintendent of the Horace M. Albright Training Center, responsible for the orientation training for all new NPS employees. He is the recipient of the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award, the National Park Service Sequoia Award for Interpretation, and the Secretary of the Interior's Award for Long-Term Achievement in Diversity.
In short, he knows the ins and outs of the National Park Service. Every other week he'll entertain your questions about life and procedures in the national parks.
So there you have it, an update of life here at the Traveler. We're excited about the recent changes, yet are continuing to plan ways to further enhance our coverage of the parks for you.
Please support those efforts.