backcountry campsite reviews

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backcountry campsite reviews

Postby McKee80 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 11:38 am

Hi,
I've been working on a project to make a place for people planning trips to go to get information on backcountry campsites. Information that you don't get from the park web pages. I was inspired by MattB's Glacier Route planner and this thread: http://www.glacier.nationalparkschat.com/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=840

I'd like to help make people's backcountry trips as awesome as possible. The first step is getting reviews in there for people to see. There are about two dozen in there for Glacier right now (thank you Paul and NDJason for providing reviews and pictures, and thank you PeteE and tibber for providing valuable feedback on earlier versions).

If you'd like to help out by putting in a review, that would be great. If you're doing more than one or two, I would use the Quick Review link. More than that and you can just send me the info and I can bulk load it in the database. Or if you just want to check it out, or play with the maps, or whatever, this is where it is. You can check out the help link to get started.

http://bcsites.herokuapp.com/

I gladly accept any and all feedback.

Thank you,
Sean
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby vikinghiker » Fri Feb 01, 2019 3:45 pm

McKee80, the site you created is absolutely AWESOME!! I so appreciate people like you and MattB who create these tools and make them available to the rest of us to help our planning. I submitted a few reviews and pictures (REF, ATL, MOR, OLD), I hope many others with more experience do the same in the near future. This is an invaluable planning tool and will only get better as more reviews are contributed. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Since you mentioned feedback, here are a few things I noticed in my quick perusal and usage of the site (keep in mind I have zero technical ability, so take these for what they are worth):

** It would be useful to have the avg. star rating under the name of the campsite in map view. This would help a user know if any particular site has been reviewed just by looking at the map and not having to click through to the campsite to see avg. ratings (admittedly, I'm a visual person so maybe it's not a big deal for others).

** There doesn't appear to be a way to edit your review once it's been submitted. I noticed an extra word, that I mean to delete, in one of my reviews after it was submitted, but didn't see a way for me to correct/edit my review.

** I tried uploading a panoramic picture and that caused an error message to appear and the file was not uploaded. Not sure if it was a file size, file format or some other issue.

** In the layers box in map view, there are 2 check boxes labeled "Trails". They both seem to highlight the same trails.

** It might be interesting to have a satellite layer in map view

Thank you again for all your work putting this together. I hope they pin a post with the link like they did for MattB's route planner, everyone should see this tool.
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby McKee80 » Fri Feb 01, 2019 5:45 pm

Thanks! I’m glad you like it. It was fun to put together. I’ve thought about the rating on the map. It would be good to see what the ratings are around your location.

You should be able to edit your review by clicking the Write a Review button. It should show your rating and review and you can edit and submit again.

I’ll look into the satellite view, too. That’s a good idea.

I know about the trails bug, but I haven’t tracked it down yet :)

And I’ll check into the panorama picture thing.

Thanks for taking the time to check it out and contribute!

Sean
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby Fairbanks142 » Sat Feb 02, 2019 1:46 pm

Very, very cool site! I just did a couple of reviews and uploaded some pictures. I accidentally uploaded the same image twice for Cobalt Lake. It would be good to have the ability to delete pictures that you've uploaded -- not seeing a way to do that?
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby McKee80 » Sat Feb 02, 2019 6:55 pm

Thanks for helping out! I’ll delete the duplicate photo, but that’s a good idea. I will put it on the list!
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby paul » Sun Feb 03, 2019 9:33 am

Thanks Sean for setting this up. I know it takes a lot of work, but I think it will be useful for people planning trips.
We are in the mountains and the mountains are in us. - John Muir
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby McKee80 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 11:05 am

It's kind of fun. Thanks for "feeding the system" with reviews!
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby Langdon Greene » Sun Feb 03, 2019 2:36 pm

Hey, that's pretty cool. I'll have to see what I can contribute. I've only visited a dozen sites in Glacier, so I'm sure y'all have that covered, but I can contribute more to other locations... E.g., I know probably half of the 100 or so backcountry sites in the Smokies. (Also, there is a guy who has camped at / photographed every single backcountry site in the GSMNP, I'll try to find a link to his page and add it here.)

I haven't dug into your site enough yet, so sorry if this is redundant info: East Rim of Zion allows at-large camping within large zones (or used to, at least), and there are lots of cool places going out toward the Cable Mtn and DeerTrap, as well as East Mesa above Mystery. Due to lower visitation / impact, there is a lot more solitude on the East Rim, and great views too.

Bryce.... omg, don't even bother with any of those backcountry sites. The Under-The-Rim trail is not worth wasting one's time on. Bryce is one of my favorite Natl Parks but just 2 days of day hiking and you've seen nearly all the good stuff. For backpacking, head out out to Willis / upper Paria, Hackberry, or continue on out to Escalante. There is so much amazing backcountry available in wilderness areas near Bryce, to waste one's time with the Under-The-Rim trail. Just sayin'.

This is a great idea. Thanks.
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby Fairbanks142 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 3:43 pm

Another feature that might be nice to add would be a "General Info" section for each park, where folks could post some hard-to-find info that applies to all of the backcountry campsites in that park. For example, a few years ago I was trying to figure out which backcountry sites in Yellowstone have pit toilets, and which do not. I couldn't find it anywhere online. So I called and one of the rangers emailed the list to me.
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby McKee80 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 4:45 pm

Langdon Greene wrote:Hey, that's pretty cool. I'll have to see what I can contribute. I've only visited a dozen sites in Glacier, so I'm sure y'all have that covered, but I can contribute more to other locations... E.g., I know probably half of the 100 or so backcountry sites in the Smokies. (Also, there is a guy who has camped at / photographed every single backcountry site in the GSMNP, I'll try to find a link to his page and add it here.)

I haven't dug into your site enough yet, so sorry if this is redundant info: East Rim of Zion allows at-large camping within large zones (or used to, at least), and there are lots of cool places going out toward the Cable Mtn and DeerTrap, as well as East Mesa above Mystery. Due to lower visitation / impact, there is a lot more solitude on the East Rim, and great views too.

Bryce.... omg, don't even bother with any of those backcountry sites. The Under-The-Rim trail is not worth wasting one's time on. Bryce is one of my favorite Natl Parks but just 2 days of day hiking and you've seen nearly all the good stuff. For backpacking, head out out to Willis / upper Paria, Hackberry, or continue on out to Escalante. There is so much amazing backcountry available in wilderness areas near Bryce, to waste one's time with the Under-The-Rim trail. Just sayin'.

This is a great idea. Thanks.


Thanks! Any review is helpful, even if someone has reviewed the site already. Any you could do would be great. You can even just pm me the site, number of stars, and review for each site and I can bulk upload them

Also, this site just concentrated on designated sites, so that is all I have data for. It was brought up to me early on that it wasn’t a good idea to mark sites in areas where the land management people don’t want concentrated impact.
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby McKee80 » Sun Feb 03, 2019 4:47 pm

Fairbanks142 wrote:Another feature that might be nice to add would be a "General Info" section for each park, where folks could post some hard-to-find info that applies to all of the backcountry campsites in that park. For example, a few years ago I was trying to figure out which backcountry sites in Yellowstone have pit toilets, and which do not. I couldn't find it anywhere online. So I called and one of the rangers emailed the list to me.


That’s a good idea. I have some info (capacity, toilets, etc) for some parks, but not others. I’ll display it for the parks I have info for
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby McKee80 » Mon Feb 04, 2019 2:06 pm

Also, I put a google spreadsheet out there for anyone that wants to do some reviews really fast without having to go on the site:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1AnierxrSZua8KeV34NtL8tSJ6dH2uTvbqQM-MNbmnWU/edit?usp=sharing
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby risingwolf » Sun Feb 17, 2019 8:25 pm

Too much information. Where is the mystery, the discovery. I think all this info impacts the park and users experience negatively. Is this going to Yelp next. Just get a map and hit the trail.
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby Fairbanks142 » Mon Feb 18, 2019 9:59 am

risingwolf wrote:Too much information. Where is the mystery, the discovery. I think all this info impacts the park and users experience negatively. Is this going to Yelp next. Just get a map and hit the trail.


risingwolf, I know where you're coming from. There are other areas where I've been backpacking for years, where there is undesignated camping, and they've been completely ruined by the instant availability of information that the internet brings. No more mystery, no more discovery -- anyone with a few minutes to google can instantly be informed about all of the best places, and then the competition for those places (and the traffic to those places) takes off exponentially. Often with people that have little or no respect for leave no trace / backcountry etiquette.

A difference I see here is that in the Glacier backcountry, the sites and numbers are regulated. So it doesn't have the same effect when there's more access to the information about which sites are the best, etc. This chat board for years has been a great source for Glacier backcountry trip planning, to get quick info and pics from all of the trip reports, easy access to info that gives insight into the best backcountry sites (like Dorf's long-standing thread, etc.). I see what Sean is doing here as just an extension of that, for the parks that have designated backcountry camping, but not crossing a line that hasn't already been crossed.

I definitely respect your point here though. I've experienced that same feeling, when it's the places that you've come to know over many years, through your own first-hand experience, by word of mouth that you earned, by going from the map or the guide book that only got you so far in your planning but left the rest to your imagination and just getting out there to explore. The internet has taken the mystery out of it.

I do really like the site that Sean's put together though, and if it takes off with more reviews being added, I'll use it for my trip planning. Not Yelp. Not TripAdvisor. (-:
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Re: backcountry campsite reviews

Postby McKee80 » Mon Feb 18, 2019 11:11 am

risingwolf wrote:Too much information. Where is the mystery, the discovery. I think all this info impacts the park and users experience negatively. Is this going to Yelp next. Just get a map and hit the trail.


Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate your point of view. As said above, I'm careful to only include campsites that are designated. That is, on the park maps and web pages, and whose use is regulated by the parks themselves, through the permitting process. I talked to a lot of people about the best way to do it. I visited Glacier for the first time last year, and my trip was made even better because strangers on the internet were kind and generous with information. This site is my attempt to pay it forward to others who might be new to backpacking, or are traveling across the country for a rare trip. I see it as an extension of the small part of the Molvar book that rates backcountry campsites, except you get different opinions of the same site. It comes from my belief that you can create stewards of the environment by having people experience the environment first hand.
I'm saying this not to convince you (of course, we are free to disagree), but to let you know that this was made with the very questions you raised in mind.

Thanks,
Sean
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