The public finds the system “very confusing,” said Linda Devlin, executive director of the Allegheny National Forest Visitors Bureau, one of the co-signers of the US travel letter. “If they want to rent a cabin on the Red Bridge over the Allegheny National Forest, they must first go through several pages to find the Allegheny National Forest, then the right campground, then the cabin. This is not a user-friendly system.”
Versions of the reservation system have existed online for decades, as parks have attempted to curb traffic and overcrowding. In 2018, consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton took over the management of online bookings, raising hopes of improvements, including real-time updates and a more usable interface. The new version of Recreation.gov was a step up from the previous model, but was unprepared to handle the large upsurge of users driven by the pandemic over the past two years. This did not help ease the confusion caused by changing requirements from parks as they attempted to deal with pandemic restrictions and record-breaking crowds.
As a frequent traveler to national parks, Kelsey Falkowski believes a reservation system is vital to help prevent overcrowding. A high school social studies teacher from Vernon, NJ, Mr. Falkowski has been traveling to national parks with his brother and sister for the past six years, usually visiting two or three parks per visit. They haven’t faced major issues using Recreation.gov.
“It really comes down to research,” he said. “We start planning about a year in advance, and my brother will create a 50-page itinerary for a trip. We’ll be visiting the Facebook page, Instagram account for the national parks, just to make sure we aren’t missing anything. ,
‘Be comfortable with being uncomfortable’
In addition to a high-speed Internet connection, access and booking on Recreation.gov requires a level of computer literacy that not all travelers may have (in terms of technology, campsite-snatching bots and third-party Sites have influenced entertainment. For years).
Last December, months into her search for the campsite, Ms Prado was able to book a campsite at Glacier for three nights, a much shorter duration than she expected to spend in the park. For the rest, he decided he had to play it by ear.