New park reservations site set to take to the Web

The Agriculture Department's Forest Service and the Army Corps of Engineers next week will launch a redesigned National Recreation Reservation Service Web site.

Now, the site, at www.ReserveUSA.com, is not intuitive for users trying to reserve campsites at parks nationwide, said Lynne R. Beeson, NRRS' interagency program manager.

When the revamped site launches Jan. 14, a user will be able to click a place on a map and make reservations quickly, Beeson said. "The process is being greatly streamlined."

Over the past year, ReserveAmerica Inc. of Milton, Ontario, USDA and the Army Corps of Engineers have been trying to create a more user-friendly reservations site. (Click here for related GCN story)

The revamped site will let users follow one path instead of taking them through many steps to process a reservation, Beeson said.

A new search engine will let users specify the dates they want to travel and check availability at multiple campgrounds.

"The site will include matrices that show campgrounds and facilities with appropriate availability according to search criteria," Beeson said.

Currently, a user cannot check the availability for an entire campground or within an entire geographic area. The redesign will give users two parallel paths, one where they can check specific campgrounds and another where they can select locations from a map. Right now a user must make selections at individual campsites.

The original design of the site didn't 'give you a good return on what will be available within a whole campground," Beeson said. "Some customers like to browse by maps, so we're providing that as a separate parallel path.'

The online reservations service is popular; it accounted for 49 percent of all NRRS advanced reservations during a week in December, she said.

The new site also will feature a simpler user interface and navigation bars will be more consistent across the home page and subsequent pages, Beeson said.

Eventually, the site will link to the www.recreation.gov site, the Quicksilver project to provide a single portal to all government-run recreational programs, services and facilities.

Now, if a user wants to go hiking, they must visit www.recreation.gov to find places to hike and then come to the NRRS site to make a reservation, Beeson said.

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