A bunch of small updates

First, I’m sorry the updates have gotten a bit slow lately – it’s summer! I’m not fancy enough to make my living off the web, so I work a regular full-time job and put in time on this site when I have free time. So when the weather is nice and it’s hiking and camping season, I’m outside soaking up the mountains and sun rather than sitting on my laptop on the couch. I hope you understand! (If you’re reading this site, there’s a good chance you’re same way.)

Anyway, I just wanted to let you in on a number of small updates I’ve done recently:

Lassen Butte Lake Campground mapI replaced the campground maps on the Lassen Volcanic maps page – the new ones are much clearer and higher quality, making it easier to find your campsite of choice.

Death Valley National Park mapI uploaded a couple new full-park Death Valley maps that are better looking than the previous ones and have been revised in the last few months. Check them out – they’re the first two maps listed on the page.

Canyonlands terrain mapI uploaded some beautiful terrain maps to the Glacier maps and Canyonlands maps pages. They’re not as useful for navigation, but they look so nice and I can’t help staring at them and plotting trips.

Yosemite panorama mapI added some amazing looking Heinrich Berann map paintings to a few parks: Yosemite, Yellowstone, North Cascades, and Denali. Again, like the terrain maps above, they’re not meant to be printed and taken with you in the car; instead they’re better for getting a visual perspective of what the parks are like.

Again, I appreciate your patience; once the summer starts wrapping up and the weather cools down, expect more substantial updates to come!

Over 100 parks?? Yep!

How do you, readers, benefit from me house- and pet-sitting over the last several days? Of course – it means I had time to create eight new park pages for you. Which brings me to 107 parks added! Of course, when I started this site, there were only 401 park units; now there are 412. Yep, the President keeps creating more work for me. Thanks, Obama.

Here’s an overview of my new pages:

Saint Croix River map 7I gave the upper Midwest some love with Saint Croix River Maps, located in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. It’s the second park I’ve added for each state.

Buffalo River mapMy most requested park was Buffalo National River, so I present to you Buffalo River Maps. I’m happy to bring some more attention to Arkansas, as Hot Springs often gets overlooked as it is.

Natchez Trace map - Natchez to JacksonPoor Mississippi had been shut out so far, but I got Natchez Trace Maps up, allowing me to also give Alabama their first page as well (and Tennessee’s second).

Vicksburg mapIn Mississippi, when it rains, it pours so I continued that tradition by uploading my second Mississippi park in a row with Vicksburg Maps. Just five maps to start with here.

Cumberland Gap mapAnd more for Tennessee! Cumberland Gap Maps also allowed me to tick off another historical park, which my site has definitely been lacking in so far. The South definitely got lots of love with this update.

Mojave National Preserve mapNow a quick jaunt west, to get the missing Mojave desert park, Mojave National Preserve Maps. I feel like California has too many pages added already, but hey, they’ve got a lot of parks.

Oregon Caves mapUp north: my fifth cave park and third Oregon park added: Oregon Caves Maps. Make sure you check out the underground maps; there are some fun ones here!

Little Bighorn battle mapAnd finally, a traveling a little bit northeast from Oregon, we have Little Bighorn Maps – one of the few western parks with a historical focus. Gotta get more history!

Fulfilling your requests

Link to NPMaps on FacebookFirst up: I recently received a few emails from users asking how to stay in the loop and be notified when new maps or pages are added. A mailing list and newsletter seemed like too big of a hassle for me, so I went the route of Facebook; you can now follow the National Park Maps Facebook page and I’ll post all updates to the site there. Hopefully that means you don’t have to keep checking back to this Updates page all the time (which I’ll of course continue updating).

Two recent emails stood out for their common theme:

From Jerilyn: Thank you for all this information. Wonderful job. I live in Vermont and could not find any of our parks. Thanks again.

From Alex: Hey Matt, I love what you’re doing, but nothing for Vermont??? We’ve got some great parks and some darn old mountains.

Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller walking tour mapMy apologies to the entire state of Vermont; I am deeply sorry if I’ve offended Ben, Jerry, or Bernie Sanders. So today I gave Vermont some love and added Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park maps, featuring five maps for now. Am I still missing states? Sure. But as of today, I am missing one fewer. And now I have my first “unnecessarily long and unwieldy park name” park added, which naturally was a tremendous oversight on my part.

So does this mean I’m saying you should all make your requests and I’ll immediate add your favorite park? Well, no. Here is a selection of some of the requests I’ve received over the last month or so:

Gulf Islands, C&O Canal, Whiskeytown, Organ Pipe Cactus, Santa Fe Trail, Wilson’s Creek, Pecos, Natchez Trace, Padre Island, Silos and Smokestacks, Herbert Hoover, Santa Monica Mountains, Fort Matanzas, Vicksburg, Cape Canaveral, Castillo de San Marcos, Morristown, Buffalo National River, Pea Ridge, George Washington Memorial Parkway, Selma to Montgomery, Mojave, Lewis and Clark, Saratoga, El Malpais, Saint Croix Riverway, Booker T. Washington, Greenbelt, Andersonville.

Whew! And that doesn’t touch on the dozens of requests I got for national forests, state parks, BLM sites, and Canadian national parks. So – sure – go ahead and request a park, but as you can see I certainly have no shortage of things to do right now.

An NPMaps Exclusive!

I found a bit of time for a fun update: I am pleased to present my first ever NPMaps.com exclusive! That’s right – I’ve actually uploaded five maps that were previously unavailable anywhere online, including the official government nps.gov sites. I’m the first to host them. Exciting stuff, huh? So, let’s get to it…

Glacier St Mary mapSo, which is the lucky page? Why it’s none other than Glacier National Park maps! Through secret sources (ooooooh!), I’ve been given four new trail maps for Lake McDonald, Logan Pass/St. Mary, Many Glacier, and Two Medicine that are free to use and distribute. Enjoy! These are better than the ones the park includes in their free hiking handouts.

Black Canyon East Portal campground mapOh, but that’s not all – I actually have a second exclusive to share with you! This one is slightly less exciting, however; it’s just a campground map for East Portal Campground on the Black Canyon of the Gunnison maps page. So what makes it an exclusive? Well, this is a map I’ve never been able to find online; I actually got this map by visiting in person, taking a photo of the campground registration board, and digitizing it myself. (Never let it be said that I’m not dedicated.) So for now, this is the only place online you’ll be able to find this map.

Gateway National Recreation Area mapBut I haven’t just been sitting here content with only a few exclusives. Nope; enjoy the 28 maps I’ve just uploaded to the new Gateway National Recreation Area maps page. Honestly, I’ve been procrastinating on this one for a while as I knew it would take me a long time. And it did. But hey, now it’s up and I can move on to something more fun. New parks coming soon…

Um, wow. Thank you.

Creating this website was frustrating. “Come on Google, find this site! It’s really great, I promise – people will totally like it.” But over the first year of existence, I received about 20,000 total webpage views.

Over the last two days alone, I tripled that number. Wow! Thank you.

Chelsea Clinton shared my post?It’s been so much fun seeing it spread throughout social media this week, as users (Chelsea Clinton?!) have been enthusiastically sharing blog posts about this site from CityLab, Unofficial Networks, Teton Gravity Research, Mother Nature Network, the Oregonian, Mental Floss… the list goes on.

It’s been a blast. Why? It’s not really a money thing – you’ll notice I don’t have any web ads so I can keep things as simple as possible to get you to the maps quickly. I make enough money from the Amazon map referrals to cover my web hosting fees, so I’m hoping to keep things ad free unless my web hosting costs increase from all the new traffic.

Rather, it’s just fun to see my hard work appreciated; really, isn’t that all we want in life? Yes, it was frustrating to try filling (what I thought was) a need and not having anyone notice, but it’s totally worth it now that people have noticed.

Thank you for that. I hope I’ve made your national park visit a little easier and a little better.

I know I’ve been a bit slow about creating new pages over the last few weeks; honestly, summer is here and the weather is getting nice so I just haven’t spent as much time indoors. I’ve been out visiting the parks instead of just writing about them – what a concept!

So I appreciate your patience. I’ve received lots of requests by email asking me to upload maps for Local Park X and Favorite Park Y. Keep them coming! It does help me decide which pages to focus on next. But this is just a “whenever I have free time” project of mine, and I find I have less free time during the summer. More will be coming! I don’t plan on stopping until I have a page for each park.

And then I have national forests, state parks, BLM land…  You might as well just consider this site to be a work in progress for, say, the next 10 years.

New parks and lots of updates

Hot off the presses!

New pages

Alcatraz mapThe Alcatraz maps page was tricky, as I didn’t know what to call it. Technically Alcatraz is just one small part of the much larger Golden Gate National Recreation Area, so it shouldn’t really get its own page since it isn’t its own national park site. But really, who that’s looking for a map of Alcatraz will do a search for Golden Gate? So the 4 Alcatraz maps get its own page. This was a practical decision, if not technically correct.

Valley Forge mapI got a request to include more historic sites in the northeast U.S., so I added the Valley Forge maps page with 11 maps. Technically the request was for battlefields, and while Valley Forge doesn’t quite fit the bill, I had a lot of maps for it so it seemed like a good start.

Effigy Mounds regional mapI also had a visitor point out I didn’t have any Iowa parks yet. This was true. But not anymore, as Effigy Mounds maps is now in the books! 4 Effigy Mounds maps to start with for Iowa. Maybe Herbert Hoover National Historic Site will come soon to give it some company.

Women's Rights mapAnother request I received was for Women’s Rights National Historical Park. I’m pretty lacking in the historical park category – and really don’t have any urban parks yet – so here’s 3 maps for the Women’s Rights maps page.

For the rest of you who wrote in with requests: don’t worry, they’re coming too!

Page updates

Yellowstone Old Faithful mapSome old pages got new updates. My biggest overhaul was to Yellowstone maps, adding 15 new maps to bring it up to 37 total. Grand Canyon maps wasn’t left out either – I found some new maps of North Rim (and did some major page reorganization), leaving me with 22 Grand Canyon maps.

Glacier Bay terminus mapI had to give Alaska some love, so both Glacier Bay maps and Katmai maps got a couple new maps each, giving each page a total of 6 maps… so far. I hope to add more later.

Hawaii regional mapAnd a new map each to each of the following pages: Craters of the Moon maps, Mount Rushmore maps, Hawaii Volcanoes maps, and Indiana Dunes maps.

Other changes

I also had a request to add social media share buttons to my map pages to make them easier to share trip-planning information with friends. I actually tried this out when I first started my site, but ended up removing them since I felt it looked spammy and just increased page load time. But after seeing the way the Smithsonian article about my site spread through social media, I decided to give it another shot. This time, however, I put the buttons on the bottom of each page. While that might mean things get shared less since not everyone will find them, I don’t like having it on top since I want the content to come first.

A Huge Thank You

It’s been a fun week as I’ve enjoyed watching everyone discover my site for the first time thanks to this article in Smithsonian Magazine, which resulted from the my interview in National Parks Traveler. I loved seeing all the tweets and Facebook shares from those of you who finally found me. To put it into perspective, in the last four days, I received as many page views as I did in the first 15 months of my site existing! It’s great to see my work being used. Thanks to your shares and visits, this is what the Most Popular sidebar on Smithsonian looked like the following day:

Most popular stories at Smithsonian
#1 a day later and still #2 the following day

Yep; I didn’t fall off the list until today – four days after the article was first published. While small potatoes to some people, this was a pretty big deal for me as a part-time, “work on it whenever I have time” webmaster.

The Smithsonian article was especially interested in what my most popular pages were, as it linked to my earlier blog post proclaiming Bryce Canyon Maps as my most popular page. So now, I present the results to you from a new experiment; what pages were most popular to those who found my site from Smithsonian?

Most popular maps among Smithsonian visitors

  1. Bryce Canyon maps
  2. Yosemite maps 
  3. Grand Canyon maps
  4. Yellowstone maps
  5. Glacier maps
  6. Big Bend maps
  7. Zion maps
  8. Acadia maps
  9. Great Smoky Mountains maps
  10. Canyonlands maps

Any surprises there? I’m not surprised that Bryce was first, as it was specifically mentioned in Smithsonian. Yosemite, Grand Canyon, and Yellowstone all sound like logical top choices, too. But Canyonlands?! I’m shocked to see it that high, especially ahead of Arches. I’ve always considered it an underrated park, but apparently it’s starting to get the respect it deserves.

What’s next for the site? Maps. Lots and lots more maps. I’ve only just gotten started!