Technology & The Outdoors

New NPS Geocaching Policy Provides Opportunities for Outdoor Adventure

Geocaching, Virtual Caching and Letterboxing are GPS activities that offer significant recreational and educational value to visitors, including opportunities for a growing number of families to experience outdoor adventure in parks. The National Park Service recently released a policy review on GPS-based recreational activities in park areas addressing public outreach and education challenges, as well as monitoring and management policies.

The recreation community can aid the National Park Service in promoting appropriate GPS activities through your communications channels. GPS activities can have a positive impact on our parks if used to increase environmental education and awareness. Geocaching and other tech-based activities can boost the public’s interest in outdoor recreation and visits to our national parks. The recreation community can utilize the popularity and growing trend of GPS activities to further their goals in getting more Americans outdoors.

High-Tech Bicycle Rental System a Hit in France

The city of Lyon, France has been offering bicycles for travel within the city limits for several months, and the program has proved enormously successful. Residents can access the bicycles at one of almost 200 stations throughout the city, and the bicycles are released by the swipe of a bank card. The bikes are free for the first half hour and less than one euro after that. Since most cyclists leave their bikes in a station at their destination and then re-swipe for the return trip, the service is in effect free for about 90 percent of the Lyonnais.

A similar bike system in Vienna, Austria inspired outdoor advertising company JC Decaux and the Lyon government to team up to provide the bikes. The bikes themselves "intelligently" self-check their brakes, tire pressure, and other functions after every ride. Problems are reported to a central location. Several other French cities have expressed an interest in launching similar programs. To access the program’s website, click here. A warning: it’s in French!

ReserveAmerica Awarded NRRS Contract


Contact: Alisa Harrison (202) 720-4623 (USDA)
Joan Moody (202) 208-6416 (DOI)
David Hewitt (202) 761-4826 (USACE)


E-Gov Initiative will Provide One-Stop for Campgrounds/Recreation Reservations

WASHINGTON, August 9, 2004 –- The United States Department of Agriculture today announced the award of a contract to provide a single, interagency federal recreation information and reservation service called the National Recreation Reservation Service (NRRS).

The three and a half-year, performance-based contract with a total potential value of $128 million was awarded to ReserveAmerica of Ballston Spa, N.Y. The contract provides for additional option periods for a total contract period not to exceed 10 years. The Forest Service conducted a full and open competition for the award of the new contract. The new contract will consolidate and expand the existing federal reservation services and agencies may add other sites that are currently individually reserved at the local level. It will begin operating in late 2004.

Technology Opportunities in the Outdoors

Examples of Opportunities to Apply Technology to Outdoor Recreation

  1. Scenic Byways Virtual Tours: as you “fly” over a high-resolution aerial photograph on your computer screen, an audio narration describes the corridor and icons of key features – from trails to campgrounds to museums to boat ramps – appear. Clicking on any of the icons brings up detailed information and visual images – and even allows actions such as making a campground reservation. Go to for a demonstration.

The Role of Federal Agencies in Recreation-Information Systems

On November 15, 1995, members of the American Recreation Coalition and guests discussed the future of recreation-information systems and the role that the federal government should play in the management of recreation-related information. The discussion highlighted both the ways in which dramatic changes in technology are already affecting information management and the necessity of communication and cooperation within the federal government and between the public and private sectors to ensure the effective collection and use of recreation information. The discussions were the basis for the following policy statement: