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Talk:United States National Parks

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Conventions[edit]

So this is every national park, monument, historic site, etc. in the USA, as listed by http://www.nps.gov/ and previously (minimally) discussed in the Travelers' pub. Here's some proposed conventions for this list:

  • Any park area that passes the "can you sleep there?" test links to its own article (eg. Yellowstone National Park).
  • Article titles include the "National Park" / "National Monument" / "National Whatever" moniker, although parks that are "National Whatever and Preserve" have had the "and Preserve" portion of the name dropped since that's a mouthful and no one ever says "Let's go to Denali National Park and Preserve".
  • Like the UNESCO World Heritage List, for sites that don't pass the "can you sleep there?" test, the park name should be text only, followed by a link to the city/region that contains the site. For example, Independence National Historical Park, Philadelphia.
  • Park areas that are in multiple states appear under each state's listing. It's a bit unwieldy, so if anyone has a better suggestion go for it.

Any thoughts and/or objections? Did anyone else know there was a Thaddeus Kosciuszko National Memorial? -- Wrh2 03:46, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Good start, but every single item in the lists should be linked. Redirects or whatever can then be added as necessary (see UNESCO). Jpatokal 03:55, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)
Formattingwise, if Park X is in Y then just "* Park X, [[Y]]" should suffice. Jpatokal 05:42, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)
I looked at UNESCO, but at present stuff like Independence Hall has its own link, despite the fact that it doesn't meet the criteria for an article and should instead link to Philadelphia. My concern was that if everything on the United States parks list is linked that a lot of non-articles would be created as a result, so I only made things links where I knew they met the required criteria. I can go ahead and link everything, but it seems slightly dangerous to do so... -- Wrh2 04:02, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)
The UNESCO list is also a work in progress, but the basic idea for any list is that the user can click on any item and go to either a dedicated article or the article containing the destination. So Independence Hall should pipelink to Philly. Jpatokal 04:12, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)
In that case can I beg a 24 hour grace period to try and get as many of these correctly linked up before we start the free for all? That gives a bit of time to at least know that all parks appearing as links are actual, correct links, and the rest need some looking into. Kiefer Sutherland saves the world every season on Fox in 24 hours, so I should at least be able to knock a few of these out in that time! -- Wrh2 04:21, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)
With the exception of trails, rivers, and parkways, just about everything is now linked. For the trails, rivers and parkways, those are all candidates for itinerary articles, but I have a tough time imagining someone ever coming along and writing the articles. Still, if the preference is to make them links as well, go for it.
There were a few others that I didn't know what to do with. Nez Perce Historical Park is one -- it's spread out over several sites, but none of them meet the "can you sleep there?" requirements. Someone less lazy than myself can attack that kind of thing.
And yes, I have too much free time today ;) -- Wrh2 17:44, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)
I just read over the proposed conventions after modifying the United States National Parks page to link to my stub on Scotts Bluff National Monument, an article I began some months ago. Scotts Bluff doesn't meet the "can you sleep there?" test. Should the article just be deleted, or perhaps folded into an entry on Gering (the town that the National Park Service cites)?
In case you're curious, you can't do much in Scotts Bluff. You can hike up the rock formations or take the shuttle bus, and you can see some paintings and an informational film. You can't eat there, you can't stay there. But the view is great. -- Mikito 02:14, 18 Jun 2005 (EDT)
With most of the items on this list it's safe to defer to people who have actually visited them -- if you think there's enough to say about a place to warrant its own article, go for it. Pinnacles National Monument doesn't meet the "can you sleep there?" test, but I felt there was enough to write about that I created an article, and then enhanced it with information about the surrounding area (campgrounds, sleep info, etc). If Scott's Bluff is the same way then keep the article, but if you feel that the info would be better integrated into a nearby town, that works too.
And for the record, I'm bound to have gotten some of the town links wrong, so if Gering isn't right, change it to whatever works best, be it Scotts Bluff National Monument or some other town. -- Wrh2 02:28, 18 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Wildlife Refuges[edit]

At present there are at least 544 national wildlife refuges, ranging in size from a few acres up to the Arctic National Wildlife refuge, which is nearly the size of Asia. Since there are so many of these areas, since they are not administered by the park service, and since most of them probably don't merit their own article, I'm going to revert the addition of the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge for now. The link to that refuge from the New Jersey page is still there.

At the moment national forests are handled from region pages, so it may make sense to handle wildlife refuges the same way. I don't know. If anyone has an alternative opinion, this would be the place to state it. -- Wrh2 00:48, 24 Aug 2005 (EDT)

That makes sense to me. -- repayne 01:04, 24 Aug 2005 (EDT)
Is it worth adding page for National Wildlife Refuges and National Forests? Or, is is good enough to just have them listed in their region? -- repayne 14:40, 24 Aug 2005 (EDT)
My first instinct is to say the site doesn't have enough article on wildlife refuges (yet) to make such an index useful, although I'm wrong a lot. Another concern is that refuges are tiny places, most of which don't meet the Wikitravel:What is an article? criteria (summary: can you sleep there?). If an index is created it would be very important to make sure that only those refuges that are extensive enough to be more than mere side-trips get their own links, and all others link to the containing region. With regards to national forests, my instinct again is that we don't have enough articles to justify an index (I don't think there are any national forest articles, but I could be wrong).
The caveat to the above is, as always, that if it's something you really want to do, plunge forward. -- Wrh2 01:45, 25 Aug 2005 (EDT)
Having thought about this for a few minutes more, my second instinct is that when I'm traveling I do specifically look for wildlife refuges as places I want to visit, so an index would be a useful reference. However, it will be a huge pain to figure out where the links for each refuge should point to. It took a really long time to work out the links on the national parks page, I'm not sure I even want to contemplate the work involved in figuring out links for 544 refuges... -- Wrh2 01:57, 25 Aug 2005 (EDT)
Is there a way to do category-type pages like there is on WikiPedia? (Something that would allow for the National Forests and National Wildlife Refuges categories to be created and any new page created of that type could simply link there and be automatically-added to the page (alphabetically by state?) I've not seen anything like that on WikiTravel, yet. -- repayne (Rob) 1300, 26 Aug 2005 (EDT)
See Wikitravel:Categories. -- Wrh2 13:20, 27 Aug 2005 (EDT)

Park maps[edit]

If anyone has any opinions on the park maps please let me know - personally I think they're helpful, but if anyone objects to having so many images on one page (or objects for any other reason) please say so. Maps for all of the western states are now displayed, and many of the eastern states will probably follow soon. I'm a bit worried about the page getting too cluttered, so for states that don't have many parks it may be best to leave the map off.

On a side note, the original map image sizes were all between 5-20 kilobytes. After resizing them using the [[Image:image-name.gif|370px]] syntax, the image sizes jumped as high as 220 kilobytes. Is that a known issue with MediaWiki? As a result I used image editing tools to resize everything to the size needed on the page and then re-uploaded, and the [[Image:image-name.gif]] syntax without a width specified seems to use the uploaded image, so file sizes are again reasonable. -- Wrh2 20:05, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)

In order to add Image:Tx-national-parks.gif and Image:Sc-national-parks.gif I had to remove Image:Sd-national-parks.gif since it threw the alignment of everything off. I tried tables, but didn't like how that looked. If anyone can figure out how to nicely add the South Dakota map back in, by all means please do so. -- Wrh2 19:57, 20 Jun 2005 (EDT)
The South Dakota map is back. It doesn't look good using Firefox, but it seems OK with Internet Explorer. If anyone comes up with a better way to align map images to the corresponding list of parks please update the layout. -- Wrh2 05:02, 21 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Naming conventions for towns[edit]

Many of the parks, and particularly monuments, of the western US have mailing addresses in "towns" consisting of a post office, gas station, trailer out back, and maybe a dead dog at the side of the road. Well, I exaggerate (slightly), but in my opinion it is a disservice to readers if we list such a town as where the park "is," with a link to a nonexistent article for same, if that town has essentially no services for the traveler. For one thing, it creates a misapprehension as to how to go about visiting the park. For another, it creates the impression that sooner or later there will be information on the town, when in fact there is essentially no information to provide.

The rule-of-thumb that I propose is: If a park has no services itself (i.e., doesn't meet the "you can sleep there" test), attribute the park to the nearest town known to have actual services for the traveler. If it turns out that a closer village does have a motel and a place to eat, the attribution can always be changed when the article for that village is created. Does this make sense? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 10:31, 27 April 2006 (EDT)

When I created this page I went by what was on the USPS web site, and in cases where I was familiar with the park by my memories. As a result I'm sure there are things that probably aren't completely correct for a travel guide, so in cases where there are better locations to use, please update the list - the nearest town with services rule makes sense, as would using the region article. Similarly, if a park isn't linked as an article and it should be, please change that as well. -- Ryan 11:48, 27 April 2006 (EDT)

USA National Parks[edit]

Moved from the Wikitravel:Travellers' pub in the interest of sweeping the pub.

Two question about national parks in the US:

  • Currently the naming is not consistent. We have Grand Canyon and Death Valley, but Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park. I would think that it is better to have the 'National Park' (or 'National Monument', 'National Recreation Area') designation, but is there any official preference?
  • Should there be a page that collects together all US National Parks? Currently you can usually find them under the state pages, but it might be useful to provide some sort of index.

-- Wrh2 20:05, 29 Apr 2005 (EDT)

I agree that a policy on this would be good, not just for the US but the world. I've been using X National Park for both Japanese and Thai national parks and I think it would be good to adopt officially, with liberal use of redirects as needed. Jpatokal 03:22, 10 May 2005 (EDT)
The Grand Canyon is the most common English name for the Grand Canyon. Yellowstone National Park is the most common English name for Yellowstone National Park. These articles are named exactly according to the policy, and I see no reason to change it. -- Mark 03:49, 10 May 2005 (EDT)
Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park are not the most common names. Yellowstone and Yosemite are. -- Colin 14:08, 10 May 2005 (EDT)
Do any national parks besides Glacier National Park, Redwood National Park and Sequoia National Park use the "national park" in their most common name? That said, it seems that there are a lot of benefits of using the full name (disambiguation, non-Americans wouldn't know if Yosemite/Yellowstone/Zion was a town or not, etc). Perhaps this is a case where the naming policy could be clarified? -- Wrh2 14:51, 10 May 2005 (EDT)
I'd like to put a page together that lists all USA National Parks, similar to what was done with the UNESCO World Heritage List. The list would be organized by state and sorted alpabetically within states. Such a list doesn't exactly meet the Wikitravel:What is an article? guidelines but I think would be useful. Does anyone have any objections? -- Wrh2 15:48, 16 Jun 2005 (EDT)
Two things--
1. I think that it would be best to use the full name for the articles on the national parks. BUT we should have a redirection page to catch people who type in or click on the shortcut names.
2. I think a page of USA National Parks is a great idea. There are a lot of them, and many of them are not well known (see the Wind Cave National Park article I just started). -- Mikito 15:57, 16 Jun 2005 (EDT)
Given the massive number of people clamoring for it (thanks Mikito!) I went ahead and created a United States National Parks page. Hopefully it will be useful. -- Wrh2 03:48, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)
I think United States National Parks is another way of seeing travel. Good article. BTW: Articles like Yellowstone, Death Valley and Grand Canyon are probably best thought of as regional articles. The fact that they may also be (or mostly are/cover) National Parks may mean that the two can be the same article. However, it might be better to have two separate articles, one for the region, and the other with National Park specific information. While a National Park may occupy most of a region there may often be little bits that lie outside the National Park itself, but are still in the region. Where do we put these? - They may not be appropriate in a National Park article in every case. Being flexible allows a bit of wiggle room. Using redirects overcomes the problem where the National Park article is the region. Maybe we should have an article for all National Parks around the world. -- Huttite 08:16, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)
I hadn't even thought of the national parks as being another way of seeing travel. Continuing with what Huttite said, a national park can become part of a larger regional itinerary for a traveler. Take for example Yosemite National Park. It is very easy and logical for a tourist to use that park as part of a thematic trip involving the California Gold Rush, or Native Americans, or places that John Muir wrote about.
Perhaps this issue could be addressed in the "Get out" section of a park's article (if there is such a section)? Or perhaps the articles on National Parks could have pointers to the relevant regional entries, i.e. Sierra Nevada for Yosemite. The problem is that many of the park articles currently don't have a corresponding regional article, which goes back to Huttite's suggestion.
In any case, good work, Wrh2! And we're up to six colons now. -- Mikito 16:07, 17 Jun 2005 (EDT)

Do we talk about park management?[edit]

In researching the Valles Caldera National Preserve, which I've just started to write up, I noticed a thing that could maybe use some discussion. There are "national parks" and there is the National Park System, and they're not identical. Most national parks are run by the US National Park Service (NPS) and listed in one or another on-line NPS resource that people will know about. However, an increasing number of "national parks" (and monuments) aren't part of the NPS system but rather are administered by the National Forest Service or Bureau of Land Management. Valles Caldera is among these, as is, for example, Mount St. Helens.

I'm not sure whether it's a service to readers to note these management peculiarities in the articles. On the one hand, the typical traveler really doesn't care whether it's the NPS, the Forest Service or BLM that runs the park; what's important is what the park is, not who runs it. OTOH, failure to distinguish among the different management schemes may not only complicate the reader's efforts to locate more info on the parks, but also create some money hassles -- for example, the fact that the NPS "Park Pass" doesn't buy access to the Forest Service and BLM parks.

Any opinions on how to handle this? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 21:53, 23 Dec 2005 (EST)

Unless I'm mistaken all national parks and all national monuments other than Mount St. Helens are managed by the park service (the original list on this page came from nps.gov). This page thus includes all national parks, monuments, and other areas managed by NPS (Mt. St. Helens is included because it is a national monument). National preserves, national wildlife refuges and forests thus far haven't been included in the list, and barring a good argument to change things my opinion is that limiting it to the parks, monuments and other NPS areas would be more beneficial to most travelers.
If a separate list is needed for national forests, preserves, and wildlife refuges then one could be created, but there are two arguments against doing so. One is that the list would be huge (there are a _ton_ of national wildlife refuges). The second is that while people may plan visits to national park areas, national forests/refuges/etc tend to be places people only visit when nearby, and are thus better served by being listed in regional articles. I'm personally not against creating a list for such areas, but someone would need to be passionate enough about it to take responsibility for creating it and keeping it up to date. Without such a person (or group of people) I'm not sure it would be valuable. -- Ryan 21:02, 24 Dec 2005 (EST)
Ryan, hate to tell you, but yes, you're mistaken. I think you underestimate the number and significance of national monuments that aren't part of the NPS. Probably the most important one is Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, which is an enormous and spectacular place that really needs to get represented, and is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (check this web site). But there are many others and their numbers are growing. A "national parks" list that only includes the NPS parks misses some fairly important things that do meet the "can you sleep there" test; Valles Caldera, for example, passes this test, and so does Staircase-Escalante, in spades.
Not sure what to do about this. You're correct that most national wildlife refuges, historical sites, etc., don't need to be represented, at least not as destinations, because you can't sleep there (often for administrative reasons rather than through lack of a place to sleep). Some, however, do fit as stand-alone destinations, and some of those aren't NPS. Maybe just edit the USNP page on a case-by-case basis to include those outliers? Can you think of a better way to do it? I can't. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 22:47, 24 Dec 2005 (EST)
My bad, you're right that there are a handful of national monuments not under NPS governance; I'd be fine with adding those to this page. I'm less familiar with the national preserves -- are there a lot of them? If not, those could probably be added as well. I'm less excited about potentially adding national forests and national wildlife refuges to this page, however, since that would make the page quite long and hide the more popular destinations. Can we define this page as a list of NPS managed areas plus all national monuments (and possibly preserves)? As to the can-you-sleep-there test, there are several non-sleepable destinations listed (example: Alcatraz Island), but in those cases the link always goes to the containing city or region. -- Ryan 23:06, 24 Dec 2005 (EST)
OK, I think we're seeing eye to eye here. National preserves are rare birds and I'm not sure there is a one-size-fits-all description of them. (VCNP would be a national monument, likely merged with Bandelier National Monument, if not for the weird way it was acquired/started.) Working these case-by-case is probably required. National monuments in the NFS and BLM systems should be included, possibly with a note saying who manages them; it's significant because the "Park Pass" doesn't apply to NFS and BLM units (you can buy an add-on that makes it applicable, however). And I agree that forests, NWRs, etc., don't need to be reflected here, although some of them make interesting destinations; those can simply be mentioned as part of the region they're in. Closure? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 00:03, 25 Dec 2005 (EST)
So, based upon the above discussion, I've added VCNP and Staircase-Escalante; added a disclaimer to St. Helens; and put some language at the top of the "by state/territory" section explaining why they (and others to come) don't appear on the maps. See what you think, and feel free to edit (the language at the top could easily fit somewhere else). -- Bill-on-the-Hill 11:41, 25 Dec 2005 (EST)
The changes you've made make sense. I'll try and update the maps to include the missing monuments so that we can remove the disclaimers, but it may have to wait a bit as I'll be heading out of town soon. -- Ryan 17:51, 25 Dec 2005 (EST)
This may turn out to be a bigger job than meets the eye. There are a whole slew of BLM monuments created during the waning days of the Clinton administration, none of which appear on NPS-only sites, and some of which are real gems (just got back from Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument in central New Mexico which is a really cool place that few people have heard of). I'll try to add them to the lists in a systematic way when I get a minute, rather than the ad-hoc additions to date, but the mapmaking is not going to be simple! -- Bill-on-the-Hill 20:12, 28 Dec 2005 (EST)

The Newest National Monument[edit]

The new WikiPedia:Northwestern Hawaiian Islands National Monument appears to be entirely outside of the state of Hawaii in Oceania. I stuck it into the Hawaii section anyway, but I have little opinion about that.

It appears that this new one is going to be administered by NOAA. WTF? -- Colin 19:39, 15 June 2006 (EDT)

Oh, now I get it. NOAA already administers the National Marine Sanctuaries. Like National Parks, creating a National Marine Sanctuary requires the approval of Congress. Just as all previous National Monuments were really National Parks created by Presidential fiat in order to evade Congress, this is a National Marine Sanctuary created by Presidential fiat. (Is Mount St. Helens a National Forest created by fiat?) -- Colin 19:49, 15 June 2006 (EDT)
Putting this "in" Hawaii makes a fair amount of sense; most of these islands are (were?) under the jurisdiction of Hawaii, if not part of the state proper. I debated this internally regarding Midway Islands, and dumped them out in Oceania on the grounds that they weren't under Hawaiian jurisdiction. But if we're going to call this new National Whatsit part of Hawaii, I don't see any harm in moving Midway there, since it apparently IsIn it. - Todd VerBeek 22:00, 15 June 2006 (EDT)

El Morro National Monument[edit]

I don't really feel very strongly about this one (it's a small place) but an edit was made [1] to remove the link to El Morro. The park does have a campground according to [2], and if we don't give the park its own article I'm not sure where to include information about the park as I don't recall there being any nearby towns (Grants is pretty far away). Thoughts? -- Ryan 15:32, 6 October 2006 (EDT)

I made the edit, on the grounds that the campground is so marginal (doesn't even have water for most of the year) as to be really sort of a last resort. Most visitors will simply come, stay for a couple hours (by which time they will have seen practically everything there is to see there), and leave, while staying at somewhere else like Grants. If we consider places like this to be "destinations," any number of places similarly far out in the boonies would have to be as well. A time may come when our coverage is so complete as to justify that, but until that time, and lacking an article for it, I'd say treat it as an attraction of Grants or Southwest (New Mexico), not a destination.
I don't feel strongly about this, nor do I think it's precedent-setting. If an article already exists for a remote park similarly short on lodging and with no more than a few hours' worth of interest, no need to delete it. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 16:23, 6 October 2006 (EDT)

"Conventions" revisited[edit]

The discussion of my redirect of Pipe Springs National Monument (presently redirected to North (Arizona)), combined with the previous topic here, suggests that this may be a good time to reconsider the question of just what the threshold is for considering a park/monument a "destination," and therefore writing an article about it rather than redirecting to some "envelope" article. This is a particular problem for national monuments. The guiding principle that sorta-kinda exists -- "if someone wants to write an article about the place, it should have an article" -- doesn't strike me as best; it provides the traveler unfamiliar with the place little chance of differentiating between a major, stay-three-days-and-don't-see-it-all monument (e.g. Jewel Cave National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Bandelier National Monument) and one where you can't stay three days, let alone find three days' worth of stuff to do (many monuments fit into this category). We should do better -- but how? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 17:25, 24 November 2006 (EST)

My edit and Bill's conflicted, so here's my thoughts re-posted:
Following up from a discussion on Talk:Pipe Spring National Monument, we don't really have clear guidelines about when to create an article for a park or national monument beyond what's in Wikitravel:What is an article?. Some earlier discussions on this topic have occurred with Chimney Rock National Historic Site and Effigy Mounds National Monument. There was also a related discussion with Talk:Flower Ridge Trail. At the moment the criteria seems to be a combination of "can you sleep there?" combined with how motivated someone is to write a useful article - you can't sleep at Chimney Rock, but the article has enough information that people seem to be willing to treat it as a destination worthy of its own article. My suggestion would be the following:
  • If you can sleep there, the park gets its own article.
  • For parks that do not pass the "can you sleep there" test a separate article should only be created if there is a chance of creating at least a "usable" article. If a park just has a visitor center and a single trail, it's probably never going to be "usable".
  • In all but the most obvious cases (such as Independence Hall) we should give motivated contributors a few days to create a useful article rather than immediately redirecting - allow someone to demonstrate that a park deserves its own article before redirecting due to failing the "can you sleep there" test.
My two cents. -- Ryan 17:39, 24 November 2006 (EST)
I think another thing that should be addressed is how remote the national monument in question is. Pipe Spring is in the middle of nowhere, and while you can see the whole thing in a few hours, I think there's just enough material one could write about that it can stay its own article. However, if Pipe Spring was closer to a town or city that had its own article, then Pipe Spring should be listed in that article. Of course, we can't give every middle-of-nowhere monument its own article, we should only do it if there's enough material one could write about it. PerryPlanet 22:18, 17 February 2007 (EST)

What Maps are appropriate for NP articles?[edit]

At the present time it appears that a consensus is building, on Wikitravel:Star nominations, that the generally-excellent Zion National Park article does not qualify for Star status, on the grounds (among others) that the maps are drawn from NPS resources and therefore don't fit our manual of style for maps. Laying aside for the moment the question of whether we can use NPS maps in articles without copyright issues, I find this argument unsatisfying. NPS maps are going to be better than ours, to be blunt; they've invested a lot of time in figuring out what maps are helpful to the visitors, and then gone out and made such maps. We have not.

Keeping in mind the central role that a map plays in one's visits to national parks (far more central, IMO, than city maps in visits to cities), I wonder if we should re-examine our map policy and start to create room for NPS maps as "acceptable" in national-park articles. How do others feel about this? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 16:40, 13 February 2007 (EST)

Well, I agree that in a lot of cases it will be hard to recreate something as good or better than the NPS maps, but any of the large guidebook makers would make their own maps as opposed to inserting NPS ones, I suppose we should too... but I don't feel too strongly about that. I will point out however that Yosemite National Park is at star status and uses an NPS map - Cacahuate 16:51, 13 February 2007 (EST)
First, could you specify what concern you have about licensing of NPS maps? By my reading the licensing on the NPS site indicates that content is "in the public domain unless otherwise specified" - see the "Ownership" sub-heading on http://www.nps.gov/disclaimer.htm. Second, as Isle Royale National Park shows it is possible to create an excellent Wikitravel map, but I don't see anything wrong with using NPS maps as they are generally excellent. The advantage of a Wikitravel map is that an SVG map is easy to modify and offers more flexibility, so I think those should be preferred, but in the absence of any map an NPS map is definitely more than adequate. -- Ryan 23:38, 13 February 2007 (EST)
There have been occasional surprises on NPS sites where something was made by a "private contractor" for the NPS and the contractor retains rights. These are normally identified in the articles, but sometimes the notice is pretty obscure. I've never seen such notices on the maps at those sites, but they make me nervous. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 09:57, 14 February 2007 (EST)
I agree with Bill that the NPS maps are going to be far more expertly-made than ours: They are made specifically as a tourist-style map, so they are easy to read, easy to follow, etc. And as Ryan pointed out, they are in the public domain, so unless we find a map on the NPS website that falls in the "unless otherwise specified" category, I think it's perfectly fine.
Now, there have been cases where the NPS takes a little while to update their maps, even after there's been a significant change that affects everyone's visit. In these cases it would be good to get that Wikitravel map with the SVG format so that we can keep up with the changes, but otherwise I say let's feel free to use the NPS maps. PerryPlanet 00:44, 14 February 2007 (EST)
I really like this article and would like to see it become a star, but I think we need to be clear what the map requirements are
Pros and cons to using the NPS maps.
  • Pros:
    • 1) They are really good maps.
    • 2) They already exist and is free to use; it will not require additional time and effort to create.
  • Cons:
    • 1) Not consistent with wikitravel look or with maps from non NPS parks. This is not a problem if the article is viewed in isolation, but if a printed version of star articles called "Great parks around the world" or "Zion Park and surrounds" is created it will look unprofessional as the maps will all have different sources and look different.
    • 2) It can be argued that the NPS maps will always be better than wikitravel created maps, but if we go down that road we might as well pack up now and go home; the NPS articles will then by the same reasoning also be better than wikitravel's article.
    • 3) We can not change them. We can not add anything that NPS is not interested in putting on their maps. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by NJR ZA (talkcontribs)
On point 2, I have to disagree. I don't think that by the same reasoning the NPS articles are better than ours. We take the time to list the pros and cons of an attraction, or to really highlight the good attractions, etc. We also take the time to point out things the NPS might fail to mention. Maps are different, they don't tell you the pros and cons, they're just there to help you get around.
And on point 3, I don't think that would be much of a problem. I have never seen an NPS map where it didn't have all of the places to eat, all the trails, etc. PerryPlanet 09:34, 14 February 2007 (EST)
I don't see any of these "Cons" as problems. The articles aren't for some hypothetical "printed version," they're for travelers. Same comment for #2, basically; yes, the NPS articles are more comprehensive than what we have here, but that's exactly why park articles include pointers to the relevant NPS websites. As for #3, there's nothing to stop us from making our own maps if the NPS ones aren't meeting our needs. I have yet to see an NPS map that falls short in that regard, however. If these are the only issues, then IMO our standards should definitely be such as to not merely allow but encourage incorporation of NPS maps into articles on NPS sites. -- Bill-on-the-Hill 09:57, 14 February 2007 (EST)
"...by that reasoning the NPS articles are better than ours". Them's fightin' words, son. :) I'll freely admit that the NPS map for Isle Royale is as good as - or better than - ours in many respects (especially now that its available as a vector-format PDF), but I humbly assert that their guide is not superior to our article, which features not only advice and recommendations, but also information the NPS just doesn't include. Other guides do create their own maps for parks (usually just redoing the PD NPS maps in their own style), and if anyone feels a Wikitravel-style map would be better than the NPS-style map, they can do the same here. In fact, I've considered importing the PDF NPS map into Illustrator, "reskinning" it to match our map style guidelines (and putting due north at the top), and using that as the basis for a new "Wikitravel" map (a forked map, so to speak). If that works, perhaps we could consider that a MOS requirement for Star status. But I don't see a problem with using standard NPS maps in general. - Todd VerBeek 10:36, 14 February 2007 (EST)
The more I think about it the more I think we should require WT maps - though I agree with what Todd says, a few tweaks to the NPS map to WT-ify it would be good - one way or the other we should incorporate the outcome of this conversation into the MoS, so that there's no question when a NP has been nominated what kind of map is required - Cacahuate 15:43, 15 February 2007 (EST)
So Evan changed the criteria at Wikitravel:Park guide status to reflect the need for a WT modifiable map... meaning Falun will likely fail its Star nomination based solely on the lack of a WT map. I pretty much agree with that... any objections? - Cacahuate 04:36, 17 February 2007 (EST)
If Evan says we need it, then I guess that's the final word. Looks like Yosemite National Park is no longer a Star, until someone makes a WT map for it. PerryPlanet 21:56, 17 February 2007 (EST)
No, Evan's word has as much value as yours or anyone's... which is why I'm pointing it out here so that those who care about this discussion can voice their opinion about it - Cacahuate 03:11, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Oh, sorry. I thought since Evan was the co-founder and all...Sorry, I'm still new to Wikitravel in many ways. PerryPlanet 14:23, 18 February 2007 (EST)
I have a deep love for Zion and if I had a clue how to make this Wikimap you are talking about, then that is how I would spend my day today. I think you are creating a problem however. Wikitravel (I thought) is suppose to be about people in the community contributing. Most of those people, like me, are not computer experts. Demanding the map be some special Wikimap eliminates a huge section of the population from contributing and bringing the area they care about to Star status. Just my 2cents, but I am saddened by how many are changing their vote to no for Zion based solely on this map. I can ask Ron Terry at Zion if Wikitravel could use and manipulate the Zion NPS maps and I am sure the answer would be yes, but I do understand that you are setting a standard for all parks. I used the Yosemite page as a guide as to what the Zion article should have and have yet to see a "Wikimap." Could I please be guided to one. FrankEM
Wikitravel:How to draw a map has a guide to creating maps, and Isle Royale National Park is (I think) the only Wikitravel park article that has such a map. I'm still not convinced that having such a map should be a criteria for star status, but I seem to be in the minority. As I see it:
  • An SVG map is a good thing, as it can be more easily modified or translated into other languages.
  • HOWEVER, if that SVG map isn't at least as useful as the NPS map then we're making an article LESS useful when we use the SVG map.
  • As you've pointed out, there are a much smaller pool of people who are comfortable and talented at making maps than there are who can edit text.
  • I've yet to see people collaborate on maps. One of the supposed benefits of a Wikitravel map is that others can modify it, but our current processes don't seem to make that easy to do.
If star is going to mean a "perfect" Wikitravel article then I agree that it should also have a "perfect" map, but the meaning of "star" was not originally meant to indicate perfection, it was meant to indicate an article that was "essentially complete". As it stands now, we are redefining what each article status means; that's fine, but the definitions people are using no longer match was is currently in the written policies and what was discussed when statuses were agreed upon. -- Ryan 13:47, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Ryan, I think you've got an excellent point. Just because a map is SVG and can be edited, doesn't really make it more useful than the NPS maps. The way I see it, NPS maps were designed so that they would be easy to read. I think we're overshooting by requiring that all star articles have a WT map. If one wants to make one, feel free to do so. But when we get down to it, a "good" Wikitravel article is one that is comprehensive and can help you with your trip. In this regard, a Wikitravel map would be of little more help than an NPS map, unless something happened that made the NPS map out-of-date and of not much help.
I mean, think about it. Are we really improving the article by having a WT map? Does the article become of any more use to the traveler now than it did before? I don't think so. And if something happens that makes the NPS map not-so-useful, then let's get serious about having a WT map. Otherwise, I say we shouldn't worry about it so much. If someone wants to make one, go ahead. But I don't think we need it to become a permanent requirement. PerryPlanet 14:23, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Nobody is saying anything is wrong with NPS maps, I think they're totally sufficient up until guide status. But what we're discussing here is Star status maps, which I think ideally should be our own - the same way that LP, etc create their own maps for places. Ryan, I do interpret the description for Star status to mean perfect... the line after the one you quote says that it should "match the MoS perfectly, or is the exception that proves the rule" - so we're essentially just deciding if NPS maps are the exception that proves the rule. I don't think NP maps are any more complicated than doing a city map in general, so why should they be an exception, just because the NPS maps already exist? Why don't we try to find existing city maps then and scratch that requirement from the MoS? I like seeing new star articles, but I don't think we should rush them just for the sake of it. - Cacahuate 15:20, 18 February 2007 (EST)
I'd argue that an NPS map is now easier to create than a city map, because we have vector-based public-domain source material to use for them (NPS PDFs). All we have to do is import the PDF into (for example) Illustrator (I think Inkscape needs a plug-in for that), fix the things that don't match our map-making standards (e.g. fonts, icons), and export to SVG and PNG. There are a few questions to be ironed out, such as preserving the terrain bitmaps when available. But the bottom line is that for US NPS destinations, there's no reason our maps can't be just as good as the official ones... because (with a little work) we can use the official ones. I've started on an NPS-derived map for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (probably the next place I'll be going), and I'll report back on Wikitravel:Mapmaking Expedition about how it goes. - Todd VerBeek 16:19, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Todd, can you give us a more detailed description on the process you followed once you are done? I've been trying to convert the NPS supplied .shp files for Zion to .svg, but those files carry a lot of detail, especially for the roads, and Inkscape just can't cope with the number of point in the converted .svg. If there is a way to extract the less detailed information from the .pdf maps I would sure like to know about it. Thanks --NJR_ZA 16:25, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Illustrator opens PDFs directly, so that's what I'm using. The FAQ for Inkscape implies that there's an extension to import PDFs, but investigating further, I see that it's merely on the "roadmap" for a future version. Hmmm. The only no-cost conversion solutions I can find are A) a series of open-source converters from PDF to PS to EPS then opening that with OpenOffice Draw and exporting to SVG, and B) a web-based conversion service: http://freesvg.texterity.com/ If this doesn't work, I'd be happy to convert PDF maps to SVG on request. - Todd VerBeek 21:35, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Just some quick follow-ups to this (now very complicated) discussion. I'm in agreement on principle with Ryan that star doesn't mean "perfect", but solely because I think it's impossible to have perfect guides. I do think a star guide shouldn't have any parts to it that we all know can be substantially improved. And I think that a map that's consistent with all the other maps on Wikitravel is a clear improvement over a borrowed map.
For FrankEM: in no way do I or anyone else want to discourage you from contributing. But Wikitravel is a group effort, and different people have different skills to offer. Some people are great photographers; other people know a lot about one place or another (or a lot of places). Some people are good writers, and some people are really good at editing text. Some people speak more than one language. Some people are good at doing Web research. Some people are good programmers. Some people have GPS devices and like to use them. Some people are good at building a community. And some people can use drawing programs to make maps. I think we have to use all of these skills, and more, to build a world-class collaborative travel guide. That may mean that each article has to be better than any one person alone can make it. I think that's OK, though; we're all working on this together. --Evan 21:53, 18 February 2007 (EST)
Nick is hard at work creating a map for Yosemite and for Zion at the moment, so let's see what he comes up with... he's done great maps so far, and I'm sure these won't disappoint. The closest I've seen so far to the type of maps we need is Image:IsleRoyaleMap.png (the 1st WT map for a nat'l park). Image:Guatemala-Peten-around-Flores.png is also a decent map. While initially this may seem like a downer that we're holding Zion up based on the map, the upside is that we're working towards a good map solution and hopefully in the process paving a path for more users to work on maps. If those versed in it such as Nick, Todd and Mark can continue to improve Wikitravel:How to draw a map and simplify the process of making maps then this whole conversation seems pretty positive in the end to me. Evan, regarding "perfect", I meant exactly what you said - obviously articles will never be totally perfect, but they're as good as they can be, and we haven't taken any shortcuts - as the criteria states, Future changes to this kind of article would reflect changes in the subject (e.g. a museum closes, a hotel price changes, a new airport is built) more than they'd require improvements in the coverage - I think this also applies to maps. - Cacahuate 04:11, 19 February 2007 (EST)

The current version of Inkscape can now import pdf vector maps, so problem solved. --Peter Talk 18:44, 30 June 2009 (EDT)

Lessons for Mexican national parks[edit]

The article for Dzibilchaltún is presently up for Wikitravel:Votes for deletion, the basic bone of contention being whether the Mexican Parque Nacional de Dzibilchaltún qualifies as a destination in terms of size, significance, stand-aloneness, and so on. Several other Mexican parks are similarly nominated. In my opinion it's wonderful to see the Mexican national park system get some articles, and it could probably use an overall article comparable to the US one to set context. More immediately, however, some insights are needed to shape the VFD. Unfortunately, the erratic way "minor" US parks and (particularly) monuments are handled, with some getting articles and some not, serves mainly to obfuscate, rather than clarify, the situation with Mexican parks.

Please join the discussion regarding individual articles on the VFD, but I've routed the overall discussion here for the time being, since we don't have a Mexican-parks article yet. We could take advantage of this to propose a Mexican-parks article with clearer guidelines on the "what is an article?" question than we've been able to make for the US parks. (Incidentally, I rolled back Todd's move of this to the new Talk:Mexican National Parks article for the time being; let's conduct the US part of the discussion here, then move to the Mexican article once it begins to take root.) -- Bill-on-the-Hill 09:30, 8 May 2007 (EDT)

Here's what I'd suggest, which is mostly just summarizing policies scattered around the Talk namespace:
  • It doesn't matter whether it's a National Park, National Lakeshore, National Monument, State Park, State Forest, Wildlife Reserve, etc; those are arbitrary bureaucratic distinctions.
  • If it's in/near a city of significant size (say, more people in the city than usually at the park), it's an attraction of that city; put it in "See" (and if it's famous, create a redirect for it to that city).
  • If it's remote and there's no camping or lodging in/near it (i.e. "you can't sleep there"), it's an attraction of the region; put it in "See" for the region and put "Get out" links in nearby destination articles (with redirect if it's famous).
  • If it's remote, and has camping facilities or lodging, it's a destination; give it the Park template.
  • And as an exception, if it's an attraction but large and complex enough to take over the city/region article it's in, it's a de facto destination; give it the Park template.
- Todd VerBeek 15:39, 12 May 2007 (EDT)
Well, the whole problem is that your recommendation (which I endorse) isn't actually what we do. We have a lot of articles on US parks and monuments for things that don't fit your 4th and 5th bullets. Is there a variation of this that captures both goals and actual behavior? -- Bill-on-the-Hill 23:04, 12 May 2007 (EDT)

National Heritage Areas[edit]

Should National Heritage Areas appear in this list?

As I understand, a National Heritage Area is simply a designation of large parts of a state which have something in common. For example, the Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area is simply the six most-southerly counties in the state. It includes cities, farms, Walmarts, and everything else within the six-county area. For example, the Quinebaug Corridor includes 1086 square miles and 35 towns in Connecticut and Massachusetts. These areas are not owned or operated by the federal govt., they are not administered by any common body. They simply are an organization with partial federal funding to provide coordination for institutions in their area which wish to be coordinated: state, federal, local, private, public. The park service website FAQ says: "A National Heritage Area is not a unit of the National Park Service, nor is any land owned or managed by the NPS. National Park Service involvement is always advisory in nature". Currently, there are nine of these listed on our National Parks page, but 49 exist today and more are likely. Interestingly, it appears that nobody has thought any of them are worth creating their own page in wikitravel. I'm sure that they are fine institutions which have great worth, but I don't think they are parks, by any definition. Bill in STL 04:44, 21 July 2010 (EDT)

This list was originally created from the official NPS list several years ago, and since then we've added a few non-NPS sites like Mount St. Helens that people think of as national parks but that aren't administered by the Park Service. If a "National Heritage Area" is on this list then it's probably because it showed up on the http://www.nps.gov/findapark/index.htm list. That said, I'd be hesitant to add any of these areas other than those managed by the park service (example: Cane River), particularly if they aren't really a park (as you've pointed out). We've similarly held off on adding national forests and national wildlife refuges to this list, and as a result I think it's been a bit easier to manage. I'm not sure if that fully addresses your question, so please continue the discussion if necessary. -- Ryan • (talk) • 10:27, 21 July 2010 (EDT)

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