Thanks! The Mrs. and I have talked about national parking in Canada, eventually. If we do, I'll keep this in mind.
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First off, in Yellowstone, there is no cellphone service in most of the park despite what the movie 2012 would have you believe.
Correct. The NPS can't and doesn't want to drop cell phone towers, cables, and guy wires to the 3500 square miles of rich unspoiled animal and plant habitat that is largely inaccessible to cell phone companies, so they've opened up the major visitors centers to service. Seeing as cell phone towers aren't what you'd call pretty, part of nature, or useful to bears, I'm actually okay with this.
Second, I have witnessed the ancient diesel noisy belching shuttle buses at the Grand Canyon blow right past people on the side of the road who may be injured or in trouble simply because they weren't standing at a designated pick up point.
As with many things in Yellowstone and the rest of the national parks, that was most likely not the National Parks Service, Forestry Service, or park rangers. That was probably Xanterra, or a similar organization. Xanterra is a private company that has contracted with the NPS to handle the tourism side of things, such as lodge/hotel rooms, tours, etc.
Furthermore, technology isn't the only thing that can get people into trouble. The US Forest Service often doesn't maintain roads that appear on published maps and GPS databases as good roads so people end up in trouble.
I'm sure the Forest Service could do so much about that, seeing as the roads themselves are largely under the purview of the Department of Transportation. GPS data, but only topographic, would be the U.S. Geological Survey, and road conditions, which are constantly changing, is data owned by individual companies like Mapquest, Google Maps, etc. Seeing as the Forestry Service has up-to-the-day road conditions, including construction and warnings of severe weather problems (such as ice and ice-related closings) for most, if not all of their national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, etc. posted on their website, maybe you should quit complaining about the rather limited resources of the significantly (not-entirely) self-funded NPS.
I know you're trying to make a joke, but it's really not funny. If you're slinging a banana peel onto Old Faithful, or any of the other national monuments at Yellowstone, you deserve a nice heavy fine, along with a few minutes out back with some park rangers and a hose. Old Faithful is not something you can "accidentally" have a picnic around, nor are any of the other geyser basins. You'll know if you are there. Primarily by the fact that you're falling into a cavern filled with boiling scalding water that kills you (yes, this has happened, just not at Old Faithful itself).
But there are plenty of people who like to drop coins, trash, and other junk into pools, geysers, and fountains. It's horrible, because it degrades these natural wonders. Consider that Yellowstone is unique on the entire planet. Nowhere else has the diversity of geography, animal and plant life, and scenery, and now imagine that people are slowly destroying by being uncaring a**holes.
All of the national parks are suffering from largely the same problem, too. Yellowstone gets more press about this (as do a couple of others), because it's the largest, first, and most impressive of the national parks.
>who really wants to take an old school map with them. I support GPS and all the other tools fully, I think the problem this post points out is that when stupid people are given simple tools they find away to cause problems for everyone else.
I do. Google Maps does not a 7.5 minute quad topo map make. You can drive to a park with it. You cannot hike with it.
The most popular maps for hiking are the National Geographic maps, but there are others. If memory serves, this is all data from the U.S. Geographical Survey. It is relatively accurate, new date is always forthcoming.
Okay, so maybe "there's an app for that", but what happens if battery dies? What happens if you lose cell signal? The list goes on. When we go hiking, we purchase one of these maps. If we're driving around a national park that has roads and clearly marked driving areas, then I'll use Google Maps.
Actually, the NPS has dealt with this before. A lot. For a series of examples of REALLY stupid people, go check out Death in Yellowstone. Here's the oblig Amazon link:
My wife picked this up when we were there on our Honeymoon (there, Grand Teton, and RMNP). There are countless examples of reeeeeally stupid people. The lady who fed a black bear and got her t*ts ripped off when the bear used her as an accidental scratching post? Check. The guy who jumped into the boiling hot geothermal pool to save his dog and his skin fell off after he got out? Check. The countless people who go hiking through grizzly country, forget to wear bear bells, don't take pepper spray with them, don't walk and talk loudly with a partner, and keep their smelly food in an unsealed cooler inside their tent not only get themselves et, but get bears killed too, whose only crime was responding to instinct (okay, okay... there are plenty of examples of bears gone wild who attacked when people did everything right, and just have to be put down).
Accidents happen, and the tech is there for a reason. There are also plenty of cases where natural selection does its job. The NPS isn't going to stop every case of natural selection, simply because it can't. They'll try, because the park rangers do NOT want anyone to die on their watch. They deal with stupidity a lot, but they're not going to let someone die just because they didn't know what they were doing. It's exasperating to them, I'm sure, but they are dedicated to saving lives and preventing injuries.