04 JUL 2018: If not being eaten by a bear is one of your criteria for having a successful outdoors holiday, then the US government has a site for you. Recreation.gov is full of useful tips – such as how to avoid or manage bear encounters – and a whole lot more in the name of helping visitors discover and experience unique cultural and outdoor adventures in the US.

The site is designed as a one-stop shop to help travellers research, plan, share and safeguard their experiences through a wide range of useful and inspirational information, from photographs and stories to FAQs and safety tips, as well as a “Build a Trip” route planning tool. “Discover which parks, forests, lakes, museums, and areas managed by federal agencies offer recreation opportunities near you or your destination,” says the site.

As such, Recreation.gov is also ideal for aiding travel agents and wholesalers in designing programs for their clients and to “build out editorial content,” US Forest Service specialist Janelle Smith told Travel Industry Today at the recent IPW travel trade conference in Denver.

“This is the only web site that does that,” she added.

With the resources of the US government (including 12 partner agencies ranging from the National Park Service to the Fish and Wildlife Service) behind it, the site enables users to conduct their own research, Smith says, adding that not only can itineraries be built, but advance reservations made for more than 60,000 activities and facilities, the latter ranging from picnic spots to campsites, cabins and yurts – all in service of enabling visitors to “experience authentic wild and cultural places that will always leave you wanting more.”

Information is comprehensive.

Beyond co-existing with bears, useful tips include finding the best time to travel, alternatives to overcrowded spots, and safe campfire practices. Visitors can “pair” wildlife refuges with national parks, discover “hidden gem” campgrounds, top fishing spots, sensational lakes, rivers for canoeing, kayaking and whitewater rafting, and hiking and mountain biking trails.

There are interactive maps and users can enter requisite permit lotteries for various experiences, such as the Denali Park Road Lottery in Alaska, which permits draw winners to purchase a single day-long permit that allows them “to drive as much of the Park Road as weather allows” on specific days in September.

Lotteries for special traditional events like the annual White House Easter Egg Roll or the National Christmas Tree Lighting are also posted.

Echoing the site’s slogan, “It’s out there, go get it,” Smith, says the message is actually very simple. “We just want people,” she says, “to have the best holiday the can have!”

To check out the site, go to www.Recreation.gov.

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Michael Baginski

Editor at Large, Mike Baginski is well known and well respected within the industry across Canada, the US, in the Caribbean, Mexico and numerous other destinations outside North America.

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