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Backcountry Permit Software

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Offline Jim

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Backcountry Permit Software
« on: November 06, 2013, 01:00:00 PM »
I've started a new topic to explain how the SOFTWARE for the new backcountry permit system works.

I am amazed how many rants were started based upon speculation.  Please keep all discussions about whether the NPS should/shouldn't do something related to this program or to backcountry permits in general over in the other thread.  The intent of this topic is to inform you about how the system works - nothing more, nothing less.  I'm asking for Richard's help in keeping this thread on topic.  Operational questions should be addressed to the NPS, not me. 

That said, this program named EL CAMPO (a bit of an inside joke) is nothing more than an automated version of the old process used by the NPS with a few extra bells and whistles to help the visitor.

As Richard said, IT IS NOT A RESERVATION SYSTEM.  In the past, there was one log book kept at PJ where the NPS recorded which campsites were taken/available as permits were written.  As I am sure you can see, there were various operational limitations with a paper and pencil system, especially when a remote visitor center wanted to issue a permit.

The basic flow is for the visitor to fill out a WORKSHEET of information (name/address/number of people camping/emergency contact info/etc) mainly to aid in search and rescue (happens more often than you might think) or to contact campers if necessary.  Knowing how many persons/tents/horses/etc allows the program to check if your party can fit into a particular site.  With that information, sites that are not capable of holding your party are automatically highlighted.  Your worksheet is error checked and will not allow you to request sites that don't meet your needs.

This will hopefully be advantageous to visitors during peak times, especially during spring break.  Rather than wait in a queue to talk to a ranger one at a time (rather large during Spring Break), you'll be able to enter your request with your own wi-fi device.  If you don't have one, either one will be made available to you or you can still talk to a ranger directly and you or the ranger can fill in the request on an NPS computer together.  Requests are queued and processed by the Rangers in timestamp sequence.   You will be called up to discuss your worksheet.  There will be face time with a ranger before any permit is issued.

Which leads to some of the other questions.  Yes, at the moment a worksheet can be entered anywhere in the world.  However, the queue of worksheets is cleared (ERASED) every morning at 6:30AM 12:01AM.  Why? I suspect when word gets out there will be a flood of bogus worksheets just to see what happens.  If this get to be unmanageable, then requests will be IP address limited - probably to ranges that only originate within the park.  That's an operational decision the NPS will have to make.

No personal info is available to other visitors via the system, so those afraid of others knowing about them should be aware of this.  Only the permit number word "Occupied" for a particular site on a particular day appears so you and/or others can tell which sites are taken or are free.  Personally, if I were making a long drive from Houston, for example, I'd like to see how crowded the backcountry was before driving 700 miles one way just to find out that all sites were booked over spring break.

Now about the 24 hours in advance rule: as I said before, all worksheets are cleared out each morning before the visitor centers open.  A worksheet must be created on the day you talk to a ranger and the permit is issued.  Why?  Ask the NPS.  That is an operational question.  What the 24 hours thing really means is that if you request a permit on Monday, your first backcountry camp request can be for the night of Monday OR Tuesday, but not Wednesday (which is more than 24 hours in advance of when your permit was requested/issued.

There is no fee to use this system because it is not a reservation system.  It is just a tool to internally automate the old paper and pencil method.

I hope this post helps you understand better the intent of the El Campo system.

Jim
« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 08:26:22 AM by Jim »

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Offline Lissa

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2013, 01:31:04 PM »
Thanks so much for the explanation Jim.  I certainly didn't mean to start a political debate by letting folks know about this!

I've got a semi-operational question for you, but will post that in the other thread as I worry it strays from the intent of this thread.

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Offline Beatrice

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2013, 02:33:32 PM »
Thank you, Jim!

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Offline Jim

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2013, 05:58:18 AM »
UPDATE: visitors' unprocessed backcountry worksheets now will be purged from the El Campo system at 12:01 AM rather than at 6:30 AM each day.

This change will allow early risers (or late arrivers) to create a worksheet before the Visitor Center opens that day, saving some time getting permits - especially if larger groups are wishing to get permits together.

If too many "spam" worksheets start appearing in the queue, the purge time may again have to be moved closer to the Visitor Centers' opening time.

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Offline Jimbow

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 01:39:17 PM »
While I missed the old book and poster method, I thought El Campo was fine. It gave me something to do while a Ranger became available.
Everything is in walking distance if you have enough time.

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Offline tjavery

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2014, 06:43:03 PM »
UPDATE: visitors' unprocessed backcountry worksheets now will be purged from the El Campo system at 12:01 AM rather than at 6:30 AM each day.

This change will allow early risers (or late arrivers) to create a worksheet before the Visitor Center opens that day, saving some time getting permits - especially if larger groups are wishing to get permits together.

If too many "spam" worksheets start appearing in the queue, the purge time may again have to be moved closer to the Visitor Centers' opening time.

Is this still the case?

For example, say I plan to arrive in the park on a Friday at 11:00am. The earliest that I can fill out a request in El Campo is on that particular Friday at 12:02am... correct?

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Offline Jim

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #6 on: March 09, 2014, 07:09:52 PM »
Yes.

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Offline tjavery

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #7 on: March 09, 2014, 08:49:25 PM »

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Offline Jim

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #8 on: October 10, 2014, 08:25:08 AM »
For those of you who would like a jump on getting a backcountry campsite, you might try getting your permit at the Basin instead of PJ.  If i've got my times right, the visitor center at the Basin opens at 8:00AM and PJ opens at 9:00AM.  This might be important during crowded times like Thanksgiving/Christmas/Spring Break.

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Online Flash

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #9 on: February 25, 2015, 09:26:27 AM »
Hello Jim,


Has the El Campo System been taken offline?  In the last 4 or 5 days, it seems to be rejecting my IP address from whatever device I try it from. Is the access now restricted?


Thanks,

Flash


PS:  The error states "IP Address Not Allowed"

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Offline dprather

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #10 on: February 25, 2015, 09:35:09 AM »
Thanks Jim,

Assume for a second that I have not a single clue about what, for whom, or why the EL CAMPO system exists.

Lord willing, I will be there on Saturday, March 7 to get a permit for an OML group.

Walk me through my EL CAMPO experience.
Leave "quit" at the car.  Embrace the trail as your friend.  Expect to enjoy yourself, and to be amazed.

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Online Flash

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #11 on: February 25, 2015, 11:24:55 AM »
Hello Jim,

Has the El Campo System been taken offline?  In the last 4 or 5 days, it seems to be rejecting my IP address from whatever device I try it from. Is the access now restricted?

Thanks,

Flash

PS:  The error states "IP Address Not Allowed"

EL CAMPOŠ Backcountry Permit System

Does it work for anyone else?   :eusa_doh:
« Last Edit: March 04, 2015, 12:41:53 PM by Flash »

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Offline RichardM

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2015, 11:35:52 AM »
Hello Jim,

Has the El Campo System been taken offline?  In the last 4 or 5 days, it seems to be rejecting my IP address from whatever device I try it from. Is the access now restricted?

Thanks,

Flash

PS:  The error states "IP Address Not Allowed"

EL CAMPOŠ Backcountry Permit System

Does it work for anyone else?   :eusa_doh:
Not working here.

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Online Flash

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2015, 11:55:07 AM »
Thanks for checking. Must be offline...

Sent from my 831C using Tapatalk


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Offline Jim

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Re: Backcountry Permit Software
« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2015, 01:33:15 PM »
It seems to be working now; or is it just me?

 


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