A new website unveiled this week by the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation uses its “conservation, education, recreation” mission as a jumping-off point to unlock new content for visitors to state parks.
The website, still accessible at ncparks.gov, includes among its new features a one click map of state parks and one “Find a park catalog” which will allow users to filter by activity, region, facilities and more.
There will also be a new guide with details on pets, costs, family activities and accessibilityand it will be more friendly on mobile devices.
We spoke to an NC Parks spokesperson to learn more about some of the new features.
Great redesign for bird observers, hikers and more
Katie Hall, spokeswoman for the NC Parks department, highlighted some of the website updates:
• Website is mobile first. More than 65% of users access the parks website through their cellphones, Hall said. Now, instead of the website being mobile-friendly, it is mobile-preferred.
• It is activity-orientedso you know where to go to have the best time.
“We’ve found that people know what they want to do, but they don’t always know where they want to go,” Hall said. “The new website starts with this question: what do you want to do? Then we can show you where to go.
• It is available in several languages. Using a Google Translate feature, visitors can choose the language they hope to get the content in from a drop-down list.
• It is more accessible. The revamped website works with a wider variety of accessibility tools.
“Our amazing web manager trains our staff on how to update pages, including making content available using tools used by the visually and hearing impaired,” Hall said.
• It offers “bucket list” activities, perfect for when you’re pressed for time.
“If you only have an hour and want to see some of the best things in this park, look here,” Hall said. “Each park also has a ‘kids’ section with worksheets for junior rangers, and nearby opportunities are listed. Often parks are busy, so people want to know exactly where they can go nearby. »
• It sorts trails by difficulty noting elevation, rockery and more.
“We now have a sortable, searchable table to look at trail difficulty, which is usually based on elevation changes, how rocky the trail is, how difficult it is,” Hall said. “And what type of trail are you looking for – riders, cyclists, paddlers. You can research these things, as well as the length of the trail.
You’ll also now find trail closures at the top of each park’s web page, she said.
(Note: For detailed trail information, visit trails.nc.gov.)
• It highlights the birds through a list of available birds to spot in each park.
To see all of the new website features, visit ncparks.gov.
3 Hidden Gems on the NC Parks Website
The website is full of educational materials for all ages. Here are three hidden gems The N&O spotted:
1/ Videos ‘Musical Meditations’
“The North Carolina Symphony has partnered with North Carolina State Parks and the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources to create a series of videos intended to be a tool for meditation. The video features an excerpt from a classical music composition , as well as images of some of our state parks,” the website reads.
For more information about the project, you can visit the North Carolina Symphony website at ncsymphony.org/musical-meditations.
2/ “Ask A Ranger Podcast” episodes
Two park rangers – Ranger Crystal and Ranger Jess – host a monthly podcast that answers a series of questions about NC’s state parks. You can email your questions to [email protected]
Episodes include Venus Flytraps, Prehistoric Sharks, SSSSSSnakes Alive!, Solar Energy and more.
To listen to the podcast, visit ncparks.gov/ask-ranger.
3/ “Nature at home” videos
These all-ages YouTube videos bring NC Parks to your home, car, or classroom.
Series include Amazing Animals, The Wonderful World of Plants, Studying the Sciences, Virtual Visits and more.
To watch the videos, visit ncparks.gov/nature-at-home.