This section will give you a quick overview on how to find an entity
(park, forest,recreation area, etc.) that you want to explore. To begin, you should click on the
parks map which will open the main map.
This is where you will find all the information you should need for your visit. Note that there are 450+ National
Park entities and soon I will be adding the National Forests and Fish and Wildlife areas. To find a specific
park, you can do one of two actions.
1. Find a Park
- The first way is by opening the left panel on the map and then clicking on the magnifying glass. This will open the Search Panel where you can now search for a specific park, go to a US state to look for entities, or go to a specific lat/lon coordinate to see what entities might be in that location. For example, say you want to visit Acadia National Park in the state of Maine. You could either click in the Zoom to Park dropdown, scroll down to Acadia, and then click on the name which will zoom the map to that park. Or, you could select Maine in the Zoom to State/Locale dropdown to zoom the map to Maine and then move the map to the coast to find Acadia NP.
- The other way simply involves moving around the map to the area you want to explore and zooming in to find the entity you want to visit. For Acadia NP, you would move the map to the North East coast and start zooming in to the coast of Maine. You would have to be a little savvy on where Acadia is located, but this one is actually easy since there are not many other parks in Maine. If you run into a situation, like in Washington D.C. where there are quite a number of park icons, you could simply hover over the icon to see the name of the entity until you find the one you want.
2. View Information about the park
Each entity is represented by a National Park, Forest, or State park symbol. Hovering over a symbol will display the name of the entity. Clicking on the icon will open a popup with 3 links. The top link will simply display a small snippet of information about the entity in the left panel. The second link (View Details) will open a new page displaying a plethora of information and the bottom link will open a new page to that entities website (NPS, NFS, etc.). Note that in the first option, which displays some park information in the left panel, there will be a link which also takes you to the Details page. In addition, there is a Zoom button which will pan and zoom the map so it is centered on the selected entity.
3. View area around the park
Once you have decided on a park to check out, you should zoom in to get a closer look. The panel on the right will allow you to see various places, though you won't start seeing these until you have zoomed in to at least level 10. Remember the higher the number, the more zoomed in you are and can see more details. These places are in categories which you can click on to view the possible places in each. The places you want to see will depend on what type of park you are viewing at the time. For instance, you probably do not want to search for Artwork or Galleries (under Culture) if you are looking at Yosemite NP. At the same time, you would not want to check out campgrounds if you are currently looking at the African Burial Grounds in the middle of New York City. While there are a number of categories to choose from, the one that will contain more park specific places will be the InPark category. This contains the most relevant park place information and is pulled directly from the US National Park website. So have fun exploring!
That should be enough to get you started. The next section will take you on a Guided Tour with step by step instructions to help you get started. You can always refer back to this tutorial if you are uncertain on how to use a feature or what an element on the page might mean. Finally, you can always send a comment if you think that what you are noticing might be something that other folks might be experiencing and make a suggestion for an improvement.
This Guided Tour will take you step by step through an example on how a user might want to use this website. We will be using Acadia National Park in our example which is one of our most visited parks. If you have been there, you know why and if you have not, this park should be on everyone's list to visit at least once! So, let's get started.
- From the Home page, click on the -->parks map<-- link.
- In the Left Panel of the map, click on the magnifying glass which will bring up the search tab.
- In the Search panel, select 'Acadia' in the Zoom to Park dropdown list.This will zoom the map to the Maine coast where Acadia is located.
- Also note that the Info tab has been automatically selected in that same left panel showing a short description on Acadia as well as a picture and its coordinates.
- Under the picture, you should see a link which says, "View Detail Page". Click on this link to open a new tab showing lots of information on this park.
- While I won't mention each of the sections, we will select a few of them to give you an idea of the information at your disposal.
- Let's start by looking at the Alerts section. This shows you the current active informational, warning, and hazard alerts posted for this park which may affect your park visit as it includes things like closures, dangerous conditions, or simply information on an activity for the park. Note that many of the Alert titles are links that take you to the NPS website with additional information if available. You will see many such links throughout this page to the NPS website.
- Scroll down to the Campsites section. Note the + symbol to the far right. This indicates it is an accordion which can expand and contract. Click on it to expand this section.
- In this section, you will see lots of information on the campgrounds associated with Acadia. Note the number after the title "Campgrounds - 4" indicates this park has 4 Campgrounds.
- Scroll down to the Seawall Campground. You should see several links on this page, in many cases including the name itself. Click on the "Seawall Campground" name and it will take you to the NPS website. Another example is in the Reservation Info area which has a link at the end; (Reserve Here). This will take you to the recreation.gov website for that campground where you can check out availability, more detailed info on the campsites themselves, including a specific map for the campground, current fee information for your dates, etc.
- If you scroll back up to the Title for the Campgrounds Section, you can click in the bar with the '-' in it which will close up the Campgrounds section.
- Now scroll down to Points of Interest (POIs). If you open this section, it lists all of the points of interest for the park. Note that each item in the list is a link which will open a popup when pressed. This gives you a quick overview, information, and amenities related to this spot.
- Scroll back up to the POI title area to close up this section.
- Scroll down to "Tours", again with a number showing the number of Tours for this park. Note that these Tours are can either be ones that are free self-guided or that can be purchased at the Visitor Centers.
- If you look at the available Tours, you will see another link to a popup showing the Tour Stops which will explain a bit about the stop as well as instructions, if needed, to the next stop location.
- One final item on this page I'd like to note is in the Related Sites section. You will see a link to "Atlas Obscura" which I highly recommend if you want to have some fun and take look at some unusual places either in or around the park.
- OK, so let's close out the Details page by either opening the "Hamburger Menu", which are the 3 vertical lines on the upper left of the page, or by simply closing out the tab in the browser.
- You should now see the Parks Map in the previous tab you had open.
- The Tutorial and Left Panel Help section gives you more information on the items in the map, so we will only cover a couple of things to get you started.
- On the map, note that you can hold down the left mouse button and then slide the mouse around to move the map in any direction. The scroll wheel will zoom you in and out of the map.
- On the right side, you will see a list of "layers", which are explained more in the detailed tutorial. Just think of these as things you want to see on the map. Note that not every item will have points to display. For instance, you are not likely to see any Hospitals, located under Emergency, if you are zoomed to the middle of a park.
- OK, so if the map is at the same location when you clicked on Acadia, the current zoom should be set to "12" which you can see in the middle bottom bar of the map, along with the current coordinates for your mouse location.
- If not, you can get back there by clicking on the "i" in the left panel which has a "Zoom To" button for that park.
- While there are quite a few categories containing many sub-categories of items you can display on the map, the most releavant one will likely be found under the "InPark" one. Click on this in the left panel and it will open to show you a list of the items you can display on the map.
- Let's click on Viewpoints. You may have to wait a few seconds while the data is retrieved from OSM (Open Street Map).
- Once OSM has returned the data, it will be displayed on the map with an icon that looks like an eye with lines projecting out from it. You should also see that the number "47" is now displayed in green next to the word Viewpoints in the left panel.
- I chose this one as our first example to show that a number of these points, when clicked, simply say "Unknown". I have no control over what is currently in the OSM project, but I do intend, when I have more copious free time, to start editing these to add more relevant information. In the Tutorial section, I explain how anyone can acquire an OSM account and be able to do the same thing. That is the wonderful thing about "Open" projects!
- You will notice the same thing for Parking, with many of them being "Unknown". But the idea of these is so you can zoom the map into those locations and at least see where it is in the park. For instance, with "Parking" selected, zoom in by scrolling with your mouse to level 17 or higher. You should see the actual parking area start to appear on the map.
- You will have more information for things like "Camp Site", "Information", or "Visitor Center".
- Ok, one final thing to show you is the idea of the "Base Maps". In the right panel, note that there are 3 categories of these; Outdoor, Imagery, and Fun Maps.
- For instance, click on the Outdoor Maps to expand the selections and then click on "Nat Geo". This pulls in the National Geographic map data. Now start scrolling in and note that the furthest you can zoom in is to Level 16. I wanted to use this as the example that not all maps have data down to zoom level 20-22 (22 being the highest number with the most detail). If you are interested as to why, you can find out in this Map Tutorial, click on "Map Basics" in the left menu, and then scroll down to the Basemaps section. It gives you an idea of how much data these higher numbered zoom levels require to show that much detail.
I think that should be enough to get you started.
I would be remiss if I also didn't include a special shout out to my wife Karin, who has had to endure my spending many hours over the last couple of years building this website. I personally grew a little weary of the National Parks website, which has all, or at least most, of this same information, but trying to find it was quite the chore. I'm hoping this makes exploring these wonderful treasures a whole lot easier and a more pleasant experience!
I have a Contact Form you can get to on the main page. Feel free to leave me feedback and especially if you notice something that might have gone amiss, doesn't work, or just doesn't make sense. Also, if you noticed on the Points of Interest that there were no photos of any of these. If you happen to have any that would give someone a clear picture of what the POI actually looks like, even if just a plaque, I'd be happy to add these on the popup and I'll even include your name in the credits for that image! I hope you enjoy this website and if you do, please feel free to share with your friends and family.
Purpose of this site
While there are quite a number of websites that currently exist for the National Parks, National Forests, State Parks, etc. none of them seem to have all the information you might want in a single place. Which is why this site was created. The idea is not to have to go to the National Parks website and try to navigate all its subpages, plus do further searches for information you don't find on their site. Choosing a park and viewing the details page for a given entity should show you the vast majority of information that would be relevant for visiting and exploring each. No more having to search for things like a description of the park, weather and direction information, what kind of services are available, what are the hours they are open, how much does it cost to enter, what tours are available, you get the idea. So have fun exploring and if you find some information that is not available, feel free to send an email via the Contact page suggesting your idea.
Most people are familiar with mapping applications such a Google Earth/Maps, Bing Maps, etc. but most have never used a slightly more advanced mapping application where you can have multiple layers of data being displayed on your map at the same time, such as the one on this site. This tutorial is meant to give you an introduction on how to use the EtP map to make your visit more enjoyable and worthwhile. Note that it opens in its own tab, so you can view the EtP website while walking through this tutorial. Let’s get started!
First, let's cover some map basics before we delve into the map itself.
Panning and Zooming
Panning is simply moving the map horizontally and vertically. The most common
way to pan is to click and hold the mouse button on the map and move your mouse in the direction that you want to see what is off
the edges. It allows you to move in any direction using this method. The other way is a bit more restrictive and is not
used very often, except when you want to fine tune a position. This would be to use the up/down and left/right arrow buttons
on the keyboard.
Zooming can also be done by either using the mouse scroll wheel to zoom in and out of the map, or by using the + and - keys on the keyboard.
Most of you know the concept of zooming in and out through Google and Bing maps as well as Google Earth. But a key concept to know are what those zoom level numbers actually mean. Maps generally support zoom levels between 0 and 22. Zoom Level 0 is equivalent to looking at the largest possible area of a given map. At this level you will see most, if not all, of the continents. In Google Earth it would be equivalent to seeing the entirety of our planet.
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the higher zoom level numbers. These numbers can go all the way up to 22, but not all maps support this level. This takes you to the smallest possible area of a map. For instance, the Nat Geo (National Geographic) map only allows you to zoom down to level 16. The default map used on this site is OSM (Open Street Map) which zooms all the way in to 22. If you want to learn more about map Zoom Levels, this page can give you much more detail on the subject, including some of the math that goes into calculating them!
Computer maps are basically image tiles that have been created based on a location and a zoom factor. if you happened to take a look at the zoom level chart from above, you might have noticed that the table included the number of tiles needed to make the map based on the zoom level. While zoom level 0 starts out with a single tile, it goes up exponentially, so that zoom level 10 has 1,048,576 tiles and 20 has approximately 1.1 trillion tiles!
This website allows you to choose from a variety of basemaps hosted by different organizations. For instance, the default map is simply the standard "Open Street Map". They also provide the Open Topo as well as the Run and Bike map. The Nat Geo (National Geographic) map is hosted at a commercial company, ESRI, which is one of the largest companies in the world to provide mapping software. The last one we'll mention is another commercial company, Thunderforest, which provides the Open Cycle, Outdoor, and Landscape maps. Note that only 1 basemap may be selected at a time as all other elements of a map are laid on top of this basemap.
A layer can consist of points, lines, or polygons that are drawn on top of a map. These would be things like the popsicle icons on a map that give you a bit of information about a particular location. But it could also be a line, such as a road or trail. Finally, a polygon is normally used to identify a bounding area of some sort, such as the boundary line of a park, a county, a state and even a whole country.
Most of the layers you will work with on this site will be simple point types and will be used to identify locations on the map. This could be a ranger station, a grocery store, a statue, and the list goes on. While this covers just some of the important items one should know about mapping, it is the most important ones you will need to understand the map on this site.
Layout of Map
When you first bring up the EtP Map, it defaults to showing National Parks, which is currently all that is available. The map should look similar to this image:
We will go through each of the identified items starting from the top left and working our way down.
Zoom Out - Home - Zoom In
You will notice 3 icons in the upper left area which may look familiar to you. The first and last are magnifying glasses with a minus on the left one and a plus on the right one. Click on these when you want to zoom in or out on the map. This is especially useful when you want to zoom out only 1 or 2 levels. The Home Icon is used to reset the view and positions the map approximately in the middle of the continental U.S. (37.151009,-97.629842) at a zoom level of 5. The other way to zoom in/out is by using the scroll wheel on your mouse. Be aware that if you choose to zoom in/out using the scroll wheel, it will likely jump 2-3 zoom levels at a time, whereas using the zoom in/out in the upper left of the map will allow you to be more precise by only going up/down 1 level at a time.
The left side panel is where you can do the following:
- Display a small snippet of information about the currently selected entity, zoom into the entity, or view the Details page for the entity.
- Show the Search Panel where you can zoom to an entity in the list, a state in the list, or a location by lat/lon coordinates.
- Display Help for the Map, the Left Side Panel; the Layers (right) Basemaps Panel, or the Layers Features Panel.
A cluster marker contains a number which indicates the number of park icons in that area. The marker colors indicate the number of icons in the cluster; green less than 10; yellow less than 100; red over a hundred. The zoom level controls the number of icons covered by the marker; further out will decrease the number of clusters, but the numbers will be higher and vice-versa for zooming in. Placing your mouse over a cluster will display a blue polygon showing you the area it covers and clicking on a cluster will zoom you to that area.
This panel actually has 2 sections to it. The First Section of the layer panel, located on the right side of the map, is for the available list of basemaps while the second section is for the display of places, such as monuments, visitor centers, and other places you might find around the park area. A good thing to know is that a basemap is made up of those tiles discussed earlier.
While the default basemap is the OSM one, a different basemap may be preferable depending on the zoom level and the area you are currently zoomed in to as well as the activity you are trying to get information on. Note that a number of these maps may not look like much when you are looking from higher above, but as you zoom in they start bringing in levels of detail that might be exactly what you were looking for or could lead to new discoveries. The numbers in parentheses after the name represents the maximum zoom for that layer. Ex. (20) indicates that you cannot go beyond zoom level 20 for that map.
The available maps are:
- Open Street Map (19) - collaborative project where contributors can freely add new features to the map.
- National Geographic @ESRI (18) - developed by National Geographic and ESRI as a multi-scale reference map of the world.
- Open Cycle Map (22) - collaborative map geared towards cyclists
- Open Topo Map (17) - open source map showing an areas topology
- Outdoors Map (22) - shows hiking routes, ski runs, and other useful "outdoorsy" Points Of Interest (POIs)
- Landscape Map (22) - useful for exploring natural features, such as mountain peaks including their elevation, glaciers, etc.
- Run, Bike, and Hike Map (18) - another excellent map for exploring the area for these activity trails.
- World Imagery (18) - An ESRI map providing satellite and aerial imagery.
- Ocean (13) - ESRI Ocean basemap.
- Earth At Night (8) - NASA provided map displaying the whole earth during the night.
- Pioneer Map (22) - map with an old 1800's look.
- Sunny Map (22) - Bright and light colored. (@JAWG)
- Light Map (22) - White with gray tones. (@JAWG)
- Dark Map (22) - Dark with gray tones. (@JAWG)
- Matrix Map (22) - Dark with bright green tones. (@JAWG)
- Watercolor Map (18) - these maps are great if you need to take screen grabs of an area and are gentler on the eyes.
- Spinal Map (22) - a map with "devilishly" good looks.
The Second Section of this panel is for the available list of Features that can be displayed on top of your selected basemap. You will not see these features unless you are zoomed in at level 10 or higher. This is so the map doesn't become overloaded with icons covering things up. The other reason is that this data is not pulled from a server until you click/activate one. The list of feature categories and associated features is fairly extensive. Please note they may change over time. Here is a list of the available categories and features under each:
- - Fire Station
- - Police Station
- - Hospital
- - Artwork
- - Fountain
- - Gallery
- - Library
- - Museum
- - Planetarium
- - Theatre
- - Cafe
- - Fast Food
- - Ice Cream (people who know me know why this one is here!)
- - Restaurant
- - Aircraft Wreck
- - Archaeological Site
- - Boundary Stone
- - Castle
- - Cemetery
- - Historic District
- - Lighthouse
- - Mine
- - Memorial
- - Ruins
- - Cabin
- - Camp Site
- - Drinking
- - Gift
- - Information
- - Park POIs (Points of Interest unique to this park)
- - Parking
- - Picnic Area
- - Ranger Station
- - Restrooms
- - RV Site
- - Viewpoint
- - Visitor Center
- - Waste Facility
- - Wilderness Hut
- - Beach
- - Cave
- - Cliff
- - Gardens
- - Geological
- - Glacier
- - Hot Spring
- - Peak
- - Spring
- - Stone
- - Bicycle
- - Boat Rental
- - Dive Center
- - Marina
- - Park
- - Playground
- - Slipway
- - Bicycle Shop
- - Convenience
- - General Store
- - Grocery Store
- - Outdoor Store
- - Pharmacy
- - Attractions
- - All Trails
- - Trails
- - Guidepost
- - Map
- - Airport
- - Ferry Terminal
- - Fuel Station
- - Train Station
- - Bay
- - Dam
- - Island
- - Waterfall
- - Wetland
The scale bar helps get a sense of distances and sizes on the map and will automatically adjust as you zoom in/out on the map. It represents the relationship between the distance on the map and the corresponding distance on the earth.
Latitude | Longitude | Zoom Level
At the bottom of the map is a small rectangle showing the current mouse position as latitude and longitude. It also displays the current zoom level.
One final note before we close out this section. I mentioned Open Street Map which is a completely open source project that anyone can get involved with. It is a wonderful place to start learning what goes into making a map and anyone can join. Once you join, you can explore the map around your home or a place you are familiar with and help add new places, such as restaurants, stores, parks, bridges, etc. or even modify existing data for these types of places where it could be incorrect, out of date, or simply missing information. Or you could simply peruse what the OSM community has put together for the world to use. Enjoy!