Recent comments

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 17 hours ago

    In my experience the 'artist in residence' program is not a 'performing artist' [which puts me in mind of a singer or musician] but more often a painter or photographer. The product of such a program can benefit many.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 17 hours ago

    Actually, most parks coordinate GPS locations of park features, including backcountry camp sites, with in-house geographic information systems used to produce a variety of maps for purposes of resources management. These data are already in hand, but perhaps not released to the public via park web sites. Personally, I do not see any downside, nor administrative difficulty, in making this information available as a public service. Perhaps it's only a matter of time and staff priorities.

    Sorry Tomp2, I just now saw your posted information, which duplicates what I've said above.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 18 hours ago

    I frequently get an overnight backcountry permit in Big Bend NP and they keep making the process easier and friendlier.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 19 hours ago

    Sorry Ron, I find backcountry campsites much closer to the Parks mission than some performing artist. And when a "nice to have" takes virtually no addional effort or monies I see little reason not to provide it. Are you suggesting we eliminate every interpretive sign, ranger program or park exhibit because they are only "nice to have"?

    Man, someone makes a suggestion to improve the backcountry experience and NPS websites (two subjects already brought up here before) and you NPS defenders get your back hairs up in a jiffy. I'm not a NPS basher. All in all I think they do a very good job. That doesn't mean they can't be open to some suggestions. They probably are but seems like an awful lot of people here aren't.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 19 hours ago

    Thank you Jim, I agree, I am not sure it is a responsibility of the public land agencies to post or allow for every "nice to have" piece of information. I was also delighted to see a comment on the importance of "Art in the Parks", "Artist in Residence Programs", etc and the extremely significant contributions these persons have made to our enjoyment and support of Parks and Wild Lands. Must include the Traveler website in the continuing effort.

    "

    and other efforts to continue the contributions made by writers, photgraphers, artists, etc.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 19 hours ago

    See, no policy against such info.

    So I guess that dispells all the earlier excuses. Its basic info and easily integrated into the websites. It would be nice to have.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 20 hours ago

    I was working on my comment above while you posted another one. See, no policy against such info. Sometimes, all you have to do is ask, and after several such requests, it's more likely to get posted somewhere.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 20 hours ago

    ec, it would be possible to come up with quite a list of items individual visitors might like for a park staff to provide, but the fact those items or pieces of information aren't already available doesn't mean a policy has been issued to prohibit their production or release.

    You may disagree, but in my opinion the majority of NPS staffers who have the technical expertise to provide what you want here already have more than enough on their plates. As others have explained above, until there are enough requests to move this up on somebody's "to-do" list, it probably won't happen anytime soon.

    And, some perspective is in order here from an admittedly old school hiker. Availability of GPS coordinates for backcountry sites is in the "nice to have" category. It would be useful for some visitors, but it's hardly critical for a safe trip, and as one comment above points out, unless it's up to date and verified, such info can lead some visitors astray or even into dangerous situations.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 20 hours ago

    Interesting. Just book a backcountry trip in RMNP. Asked about .gpx files on the campsites. The ranger said yes they have them and he would email them to me.

    So indeed they exist. It would be nice to have them posted on the websites.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 20 hours ago

    I know of no NPS policy on providing GPS coordinates to the public.

    Then I would suggest someone(s) has made that decision. It may not be a written policy but it is what gets implimented.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 20 hours ago

    EC--

    What I was trying to communicate is that it probably _isn't_ a NPS policy decision, and that I know of no NPS policy on providing GPS coordinates to the public. Rather, the park-level folks who would do this don't know that it is more of a priority to visitors than other things they're working on when they're not at the visitor center front desk. A few polite requests, with a use-case of why it would be helpful to you so that the ranger can explain or sell the request to their supervisors, are likely to do the trick. The key is that this will have to be done park by park, as local park folks need to check the data to make sure it is current and valid and safe (for instance, I know that Death Valley has some things in their "roads" GIS coverage that aren't roads that would be a serious safety issue if included in GPX files).

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   4 days 22 hours ago

    Tomp2 - Your post sounds like it is coming from someone with some knowledge of the issue. Points 1 & 2 confirm my belief that the coordinates and/or resources to create them already exist.

    Point three also is in line with my suspicions that not providing the coordinates is more a policy decision than anything else. I don't agree with the decision and think the "liability" issue is stupid, though in these litigious days, the PC correct thing to do. I don't see how there is any more liability in GPS coordinates than in those rough hand sketched maps they pass out. Its about time the rest of us stopped being penalized for the stupidity of a few.

    On point 4) for trails I use Topo USA. Put a start pin at the start and a finish pin at the end and then one click createa a route. One more click and you have a direct download to the GPS from there. Campsites are another matter as they generally aren't shown in standard Topo sofware, are frequently invisable on Google Earth and are only approximated on such maps as Nat Geo where interpelation is needed to even get to the "approximate" location. GPS downloads from the National Park "Service" would be a nice "service" commenserate with (and cheaper than) interpretive signs, ranger presentations and park museums. But then I guess interpretive signs, ranger presentations and park museums are just Tea Pary entitlement mentality.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   5 days 7 hours ago

    I've had to change this response 3 times now as other posts come in faster than I can get to this reply.

    1: Getting the coordinates for campgrounds, trails, etc., does not involve rangers or even volunteers marching around with GPS units. By now all parks should have roads, trails, and all facilities and named locations as GIS data: "Base Cartography" was one of the 12 core inventories for the ~280 units with natural resources. [We use polylines of trails to design sampling schemes for monitoring new invasive weeds, to compute travel times for monitoring crews and for SAR.] Technically, the process would take a bit of review for closed or re-routed trails and campsites (data get outdated), then not much more than a GIS tech using the ArcGIS Data Interoperability Extension to dump the data in GPX format usable by most brands of consumer GPS units, dropping all attributes except the trail or site name. [2 potential issues: I suspect that the GPX files are a format our webserver blocks, so users would download a .txt file and have to rename it; folks selling apps or downloadable GPX files can potentially prevent NPS from competing with them.]

    2: I think that a very few folks requesting coordinates for trail junctions, campgrounds, trails, etc., especially with 1 or 2 sentence use-cases for the trail as polylines in their requests, would be enough to get this done at most parks. I suspect that the issue is more that rangers & natural resource folks don't tend to use GPS units this way, so they don't understand why these coordinates would be useful to you. Many natural resource folks, data managers, and even some interp rangers can use ArcGIS. Make the request to individual parks; if they can't do it themselves they can ask their I&M network for support.

    3: I don't know about any current NPS policy about providing GPS coordinates, liability, etc. . My understanding from long before I joined NPS is that there used to be substantial liability issues with providing sets of GPS coordinates: folks would plug them into their GPS in the wrong CRS (NAD27 instead of NAD83/WGS84) and blame the coordinate provider, or use them to attempt cross-country travel and end up an impassable cliffs and blame the coordinate provider, etc.. Many organizations & agencies with less than expert audiences quickly stopped providing coordinates. While I hope more GPS users now know what they're doing, modern handhelds are more idiot-proof, and GPX specifies WGS84 decimal degrees, to some extent providing GPS coordinates still promotes off-trail cross-country use. That can lead to folks coming to cliffs, dangerous stream crossings, etc., so I can see that neither SAR nor resource protection folks would make providing GPS coordinates to the general public a high priority (that doesn't mean that they would _oppose_ providing coordinates). Again, that is my personal impression and (non-NPS) experience, not NPS policy.

    4: As several folks have noted, you can get your coordinates from google earth if you can recognize it from the aerial photography. If I were doing lots of points or tracing a trail or stream, I would use the push-pins for places and paths for trails, then right-click on the tree of points and save as kml; then use something like GPSBabel to convert that kml to GPX to upload to my GPS unit.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   5 days 7 hours ago

    Duplicate post; my apologies.

    I tried to finish my response while running a big slow data fetch from home.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   5 days 17 hours ago

    Thank you dahkota. That looks like one more fine resource. I've bookmarked it and will be checking it more thoroughly.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   5 days 20 hours ago

    http://www.everytrail.com/best/hiking-zion-national-park

    Excellent resource for trails, waypoints, photos, and gps files.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   5 days 20 hours ago

    All one has to do is place the cursor over the campsite or trail junction

    But those campsites aren't marked on G E.

    Wanting the government to do it for us without wanting to pay for it is a perfect example of the hypocrisy of the Tea Party Entitlement Mentality.

    Who said I wouldn't pay? Wouldn't my entrance fee be paying for this? Wouldn't the backcountry permit be paying for this? Wouldn't my taxes be paying for this. Heck, I find this a far more usefull and mission relevant expenditure than say the "artist in residence" program. The cost of creating this database is miniscule. Such GPX files are available, for free, for many other hikes. I downloaded one showing every Shelter on the AT. Another the plot of the entire Colorado Trail. As I said before, I would think this info would be valuable to the Park itself. In fact, I would be surprised if they don't already have the information. Or if they asked for it, hikers would give it to them for free.

  • Tule Elk Deaths At Point Reyes National Seashore Bring Charges Of Mismanagement   5 days 20 hours ago

    Ah, the foul scent of politics and money waft through the fresh air of yet another National Park.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   5 days 21 hours ago

    Google Earth does have all the coordinates. All one has to do is place the cursor over the campsite or trail junction or whatever you are looking for and PRESTO, there it is.

    I just used G E to plot my hiking plans for a trip into Grand Staircase. It took all of maybe fifteen minutes and in the process, I discovered some interesting things I hadn't known about before. In addition to G E, there are a large number of online and CD disk sets of state topo maps. My Utah topos are from National Geographic. They work even better for some things than G E.

    Wanting the government to do it for us without wanting to pay for it is a perfect example of the hypocrisy of the Tea Party Entitlement Mentality.

    Now lets leave it up to other readers to make their own decisions here.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   6 days 8 hours ago

    Add it to the maintenance backlog.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   6 days 8 hours ago

    Why not just use Google Earth?

    Well first, I don't thing Google Earth has the coordinates for all the backcountry sites in RMNP. If so, please provide the link.

    All required is a little effort on the part of people who want to use them.

    Yes, thousands of people that want the coordinates could research them - as I ultimately did. Or the Park Service could have one person do it and provide the information to thousands of people that would appreciate it.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   6 days 8 hours ago

    Another excellent resource for visiting Zion is a book published by Zion Natural History Association and sold for $17.

    ZION ADVENTURE GUIDE - EXPLORING ZION NATIONAL PARK by Greer Chesher. Well worth the dollars spent.

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   6 days 8 hours ago

    Why not just use Google Earth? I use it all the time to obtain GPS coordinates in all sorts of places. I used it last fall for coordinates in Zion and found them to be almost right on. The work has already been done. All required is a little effort on the part of people who want to use them. In the time spent to complain here, one could have had all sorts of waypoints for Zion and virtually any place else on the planet. At no expense to the government, by the way. Shouldn't Tea Partiers rejoice over that?

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   6 days 10 hours ago

    A quick search found these resources for GPS waypoints in NW parks:

    http://www.wta.org/hiking-info/basics/how-to/how-to-prepare-for-backpack...

    National Geographic Park Maps

    High-resolution topo/trail maps for 15 national parks, including Mt. Rainier and Olympic. Includes GPS locator, waypoints, and a ton of additional info for each park, including park histories, activities, visitor and wilderness information and more. $4.99

    Green Trails MAPP - Mount Rainier Wonderland

    Similar to the printed topo, this high-resolution app includes all the trails within Mount Rainier National Park, including GPS waypoints for trailheads and backcountry camps. $4.99

    The Nat'l Geo maps seem to be more than fifteen, and include Arches, Canyonlands, Carlsbad, Crater Lake, Delaware Water Gap, Everglades, Grand Canyon, Guadalupe Mountains, Hawaii Volcanoes, Lassen, North Cascades, Shenandoah, Smokies, Saguaro, Sequoia-Kings, Tetons, Yellowstone, & Yosemite.

    http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/ngs/category/maps/travel-and-hiking-maps

  • Here's A Hiking Guide For Your Next Visit To Zion National Park   6 days 10 hours ago

    How many GPS units are available to backcountry rangers to carry around on a daily basis?

    Unless those campsites are moving on a "daily basis" not many would be needed. I would think in 1 year, a single unit could be walked down every trail past every campsite in the park.

    "Are those units of adequate quality to capture the level of accuracy / detail needed for the project under discussion?;

    The typical off the shelf consumer unit can be with in a few feet - so yes.

    There simply hasn't been enough demonstrated demand for this information to get it done.

    Neither I nor you know whether that is true though the massive investment in GPS technology and the plethora of sites with GPS data on other hikes would suggest otherwise to me.