All across the country, park rangers are turning into podcasters. Hundreds of brief audio and video programs are up on park websites and on iTunes giving visitors a new national park experience. People can learn about park resources, take a guided tour, get help planning trips, and, best of all, meet actual rangers.
“While nothing can replace a personal experience in a national park, we think our podcasts will enhance people’s trips or give them the opportunity to learn about a park that they can’t visit,”
said Mary A. Bomar, Director of the National Park Service.
Take a Guided Tour In addition to general information, podcasts are a great way to offer ranger-led tours of specific areas that people can enjoy on their own schedule. More and more people download guided tours onto their iPods or mp3 players prior to their national park trip. When they arrive, they literally have a ranger in the palm of their hand to guide them on a walking or driving tour.
At Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, people stop at overlooks along the South Rim Road and watch podcasts about geology, history, life, and recreation at those exact spots. Everglades National Park also has a car tour (audio only) that leads listeners on a guided exploration down the main park road. Four civil war battlefields – Gettysburg, Antietam, Petersburg, and Richmond – offer podcasts that allow you to walk or drive along as you listen to an NPS historian talk about decisive and dramatic battles.
Glacier National Park offers videos online about hiking, and rangers say the programs speed up the backcountry permit process. “Rather than having to watch the video at the permit station which is required, more and more visitors have watched it online ahead of time,” said Bill Hayden, Interpretive Specialist.
It’s clear that getting out National Park information is crucial with the amount of visitors some of these parks get.
For many other national park podcasts and virtual tours, go to www.nps.gov. If a park unit offers online programs, you will find them by clicking on “Photos and Multimedia” in the left navigation bar of their homepage.