Big Bend Chat

Big Bend National Park Q&A => Backcountry Camping => Topic started by: Lissa on November 05, 2013, 03:36:33 PM

Title: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lissa on November 05, 2013, 03:36:33 PM
When we went in person to get our permit the Ranger asked us if we had our own internet capable devices, and said you could now submit a permit application online (still only at most 24 hours in advance) to get in the queue.  My impression was you could do this from anywhere, so would be able (for example) to submit the application en route for the next day and they would 'hold' your spot until some reasonable time the next day.

Unfortunately I forgot to go back into the station to write down the web address for submitting the application and they aren't yet broadcasting it, but I would think you could get the address if you called.  And hopefully if someone gets it they can post it back here.

Moderator Note: the latest address for El Campo is as follows.
New El Campo IP (http://75.41.147.131/permits/welcome.php)
Or until they change it again, http://tinyurl.com/BigBendElCampo
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Flash on November 05, 2013, 03:40:37 PM
That reminds me that when my wife and I got our back country permit in Sept. that instead of the old "big book", they did it all on a laptop on the counter. I suppose what you are describing here is likely an extension of this new electronic permit system.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: waddamaroon on November 05, 2013, 04:36:23 PM
http://75.41.144.100/permits/welcome.php

This is the address. You have the opportunity to see what's available, and to enter your information so you can request a site, and be fast-tracked once you hit the visitor center. 
 
Moderator Note: Here's a slightly more easy to remember link to that site: http://tinyurl.com/bibeelcampo
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: kevint on November 05, 2013, 04:52:20 PM
http://75.41.144.100/permits/welcome.php (http://75.41.144.100/permits/welcome.php)

This is the address. You have the opportunity to see what's available, and to enter your information so you can request a site, and be fast-tracked once you hit the visitor center.

I like it. 
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Al on November 05, 2013, 05:11:19 PM
That's good to know.  Thank you!
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Beatrice on November 05, 2013, 05:38:22 PM
Thank you Lissa! I'm so excited about this!
If anyone finds out the earliest the form can legitimately be entered, I'd be most interested. We're going at a peak time and I'll be online at the minute I can submit if at all possible.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: waddamaroon on November 05, 2013, 05:41:40 PM
If I understand the system correctly, you can enter your info up to 24 hours in advance and this puts you in the queue.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Beatrice on November 05, 2013, 05:58:31 PM
If I understand the system correctly, you can enter your info up to 24 hours in advance and this puts you in the queue.
24 hours in advance of what?
Of midnight?
Of when their offices open?
Of when you'll arrive?
Of when you'll occupy the site?

That could be a 12 hour difference. That's why I ask.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on November 05, 2013, 06:03:57 PM
Our own Jim (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/profile/Jim/), here on BBC does volunteer computer/software work with the park and had a big hand in getting this new system up and being tested.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Flash on November 05, 2013, 09:29:57 PM
Pretty well done site. Very instructive just browsing the currently permitted sites. People DO go to Loop Camp. Some people stay FOUR nights in one site up in the Chisos. Permit holder 000425 is doing a roadside camp world tour, two nights each in SIX roadside camps. 
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: waddamaroon on November 05, 2013, 09:56:57 PM
If I understand the system correctly, you can enter your info up to 24 hours in advance and this puts you in the queue.
24 hours in advance of what?
Of midnight?
Of when their offices open?
Of when you'll arrive?
Of when you'll occupy the site?

That could be a 12 hour difference. That's why I ask.

Valid questions. I wish Jim would jump in here because I'm trying to 'splain something I don't completely understand yet.
Here's my take after talking to one of the rangers: Let's assume you are arriving at the park on Saturday morning. The earliest you could get a backcountry permit would be 9 am that Saturday, because that's when the PJ visitor center opens. That means that the earliest you could put yourself in the queue would be Friday morning at 9. However, this is not a reservation system. It's still first-come, first-served. That means you could lose your spot at 4:55 pm Friday afternoon. All this system does is allow you to see what's available and express your interest. By filling out the form, all of your info is available when you arrive to pick up your permit. In other words, it speeds the registration process. Furthermore, if you don't pick up the permit you've applied for, your info is blown out of the system at 6 am the next day (Sunday).
I think this is still a work in process. You know, baby steps and all that...
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: waddamaroon on November 05, 2013, 10:01:57 PM
I would encourage you to call 432-477-1158 and ask if Cookie Ballou is available. She seems to be heavily invested in this project.
I'd like to hear your takeaway on this.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Beatrice on November 05, 2013, 10:48:17 PM
Pretty well done site. Very instructive just browsing the currently permitted sites. People DO go to Loop Camp. Some people stay FOUR nights in one site up in the Chisos. Permit holder 000425 is doing a roadside camp world tour, two nights each in SIX roadside camps.
This post just brought to mind an unrelated conversation I recall reading by women backpackers. They were discussing the danger of hiking solo as a woman and of the problems they'd encountered. The general consensus of the women who backpack solo (or in 2-women partner teams) was that they didn't give any accurate details on where they'd be, who they'd be with, etc--deflecting or outright lying when asked.

A couple people shared stories of near-rape circumstances from guys who knew they were solo and where they were camping. (One said a day-hiker shared the info with another hiker that a solo female hiker was down the trail, putting her in danger.) Some in-the-news stories were shared about solo backpacking women raped/murdered out on the trail. A general warning was given that women were followed by trail registers and other forms of semi-public documentation of their whereabouts and should go to great lengths to avoid letting people know were they were or where they'd camp.  A lot of women shared how they'd changed plans on the fly (switching trails, changing campsites, turning back, etc) when they met a guy who seemed a little too chatty or eager or off.

I've never camped solo, but I think I'd feel pretty vulnerable if my location was available online for all to know. If they knew I went to site X tonight, they'd know where I'd be all week--just as you so perfectly illustrated. Your innocent commentary on permit holder 000425's travels perfectly mirrored the not-so-innocent commentary I read from a man after he noticed two female hikers ahead of him, guessing where they'd be camping (in a hey-hey-hey, wink wink, nudge nudge kind of way).

It was an eye-opening conversation to me, especially as it had so many veteran solo backpacking women. After reading their convos, I strongly suspect their consensus would be that they'd not want the identifying number following them across sites posted for others to view, especially in such a public way. I wonder if it adds any great functionality for that number to be publicly visible.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on November 06, 2013, 07:49:49 AM
Just saw this thread, and later today/tomorrow I'll try to answer your software related questions.  Gotta run right now.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: elhombre on November 06, 2013, 08:52:11 AM
So now someone can lock up 15 days worth of campsites without stepping foot into the park for 24 hours???  Then the info will be dumped so it can not be tracked if it becomes a serial event?  Answer  :  We need to archive the data to keep this from happening!!!! :eusa_dance:

Now they will have an IP address for you and a working phone number.  Cross check that with your trip report pictures......faceb ook IP address.  Sure, I'm crazy.  Seen the NSA computer building in Utah????  They can't even protect the vital information with healthcare web site.  Didn't have time to test it!  How about this government web site?

We already drive by campsites that are permitted out all week and never see a car there.  How will this help?   Will it cost money to change your permit now midway through your trip?

So I show up on Friday of Thanksgiving week to get a permit for 2 weeks.  My favorite spots are reserved for some people showing up on Saturday.  Others have seem these good spots taken, so that start clicking on spots they don't want ,but look good on the map.  These "blue facers" ended up filling up Pine Canyon road and other spots that they know they don't want, but take just in case they can't get a non-reserve spot in the basin in the next few days.  I'm standing there with no options. A real person with money in my hand and a real desired itinerary.  Not some dork not working in their cubicle the day before, with a smart phone in his hand grabbing campspots he is not even prepared to stay in.  They should require the $10 up front when using the system to keep some of the riff raff from locking others out the first Friday of Thanksgiving.



Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Beatrice on November 06, 2013, 09:22:20 AM
So now someone can lock up 15 days worth of campsites without stepping foot into the park for 24 hours???  Then the info will be dumped so it can not be tracked if it becomes a serial event?  Answer  :  We need to archive the data to keep this from happening!!!! :eusa_dance:

Now they will have an IP address for you and a working phone number.  Cross check that with your trip report pictures......faceb ook IP address.  Sure, I'm crazy.  Seen the NSA computer building in Utah????  They can't even protect the vital information with healthcare web site.  Didn't have time to test it!  How about this government web site?

We already drive by campsites that are permitted out all week and never see a car there.  How will this help?   Will it cost money to change your permit now midway through your trip?

So I show up on Friday of Thanksgiving week to get a permit for 2 weeks.  My favorite spots are reserved for some people showing up on Saturday.  Others have seem these good spots taken, so that start clicking on spots they don't want ,but look good on the map.  These "blue facers" ended up filling up Pine Canyon road and other spots that they know they don't want, but take just in case they can't get a non-reserve spot in the basin in the next few days.  I'm standing there with no options. A real person with money in my hand and a real desired itinerary.  Not some dork not working in their cubicle the day before, with a smart phone in his hand grabbing campspots he is not even prepared to stay in.  They should require the $10 up front when using the system to keep some of the riff raff from locking others out the first Friday of Thanksgiving.
While I understand and support your concern that sites will be reserved but not used, especially during peak times, (which it appears is being addressed by the automatic turnover, though there might be more ideal methods that could be suggested), I don't understand why it appears you believe "a dork in a cubicle" using a smart phone to book a site he intends to occupy is blue faced riff raff who is less worthy of that site than others.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: presidio on November 06, 2013, 10:20:40 AM
They were discussing the danger of hiking solo as a woman and of the problems they'd encountered.
A couple people shared stories of near-rape circumstances from guys who knew they were solo and where they were camping. (One said a day-hiker shared the info with another hiker that a solo female hiker was down the trail, putting her in danger.) Some in-the-news stories were shared about solo backpacking women raped/murdered out on the trail. A general warning was given that women were followed by trail registers and other forms of semi-public documentation of their whereabouts and should go to great lengths to avoid letting people know were they were or where they'd camp.

Yep, all issues with the obsessive nature of the NPS requiring all kinds of info/data on what you want to do on their turf.

Quote
I've never camped solo, but I think I'd feel pretty vulnerable if my location was available online for all to know. If they knew I went to site X tonight, they'd know where I'd be all week--just as you so perfectly illustrated. Your innocent commentary on permit holder 000425's travels perfectly mirrored the not-so-innocent commentary.

It was an eye-opening conversation to me, especially as it had so many veteran solo backpacking women. After reading their convos, I strongly suspect their consensus would be that they'd not want the identifying number following them across sites posted for others to view, especially in such a public way. I wonder if it adds any great functionality for that number to be publicly visible.

From a cursory look at the permit website, it does not appear any personal data is available. Just the dates and the request number. If it is otherwise, then the NPS needs to immediately revise how this is managed.

Since the parks are not anywhere near as safe as the NPS desperately wants you to believe, personal responsibility is key. Get a concealed carry permit since with one you now can legally carry in national parks (the irritation and hand wringing of the NPS about this is irrelevant), become and remain proficient in its use, and refuse to either be afraid or a victim.

To those that will immediately rant about guns in parks...it's simple, don't get one. If you're not concerned about your safety in remote areas, I certainly am not, and neither is the NPS at the base level (they will show up after the crime if at all...they have to know about it before they can be bothered to leave their desks). I bet the guy that was murdered (crime never solved) in his tent at Pine Canyon many years ago was wishing at the end he'd violated the no-gun rule, because the funny hat people were miles and hours (maybe days...I forget) away.

Less seriously, don't forget about rogue park rangers, of which Nevada Barr frequently has written.  :willynilly:
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: presidio on November 06, 2013, 10:41:23 AM

While I understand and support your concern that sites will be reserved but not used, especially during peak times, (which it appears is being addressed by the automatic turnover, though there might be more ideal methods that could be suggested), I don't understand why it appears you believe "a dork in a cubicle" using a smart phone to book a site he intends to occupy is blue faced riff raff who is less worthy of that site than others.

The problem is that this whole reservation process violates the first-come, first-served principle of using public land.

It's not clear whether there is a fee (in addition to the site fee) to do this particular online system, but would not be surprised to learn there is, or will soon be . There is a fee to reserve developed campground sites (and the NPS undoubtedly gets a cut of this fee, which likely explains why they instituted it). The NPS and fees is the government equivalent of crack-whores, they'll do anything for money.

With any camping reservation system, all you are achieving is allowing a select few to monopolize the available sites because they have the foresight, opportunity, or rigid schedule that makes such possible. Everyone else now has to compete, still, on a first-come, first-served basis for the remaining diminished pool of sites. How is that fair? It isn't; not at all, not one bit. Everyone should be on the same plane, especially since the NPS dictates how many can camp, where and for how long.

The only folks that really are happy with such a system are those that get a site without expending the effort of showing up and taking their chances along with the rest of us.

The absolute worst time to do this is "peak times". But, then, the rest of the year generally is no problem. So, why should the times of greatest demand result in the least ability to snag a site when you show up? Well, follow the money to understand the underlying motivations.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: RichardM on November 06, 2013, 11:20:45 AM
Ok, so I'm a little late to head off any rants, but just for those who may have missed it, here are the instructions on the site:
Quote from: http://75.41.144.100/permits/welcome.php
This web site will step you through the completion of a worksheet request for a backcountry permit. A worksheet is not a permit!

Step 1 allows you to understand your camping options and to look at maps for the three types of backcountry camp sites:

Roadside camps allow you to drive your vehicle (on dirt roads) to the site.
Chisos camp sites are located in the park's central mountains and can only be reached by hiking and carrying your gear, food, and water. Vehicles can be parked in the Basin area.
Zone camping allows you to camp a half mile off the road almost anywhere (within certain limits) in the park.
Step 2 allows you to view a calendar of all the camp sites in the park. You can see which ones are available and, for some, see photos and other information about the sites.

Step 3 (when enabled) allows you to create and submit a request for a permit. After filling out information for your group, you will be guided to create an itenerary and to make camp site selections that can accommodate your group. If you prefer, you may wait until you talk to a ranger to make your campsite selections.

Step 4 allows you to review regulatory and safety information.

Step 5 Worksheet requests will be processed in the order in which they are created. A ranger will call your name or number to discuss your request. You will be able to make changes before your permit is issued.

So, unless I'm missing something, this online system only allows you to create a worksheet request based on the latest information. This allows you to virtually stand in line and gaze at the big board showing what's available, etc. While it's possible that they may move towards an online permit system which allows you to reserve online, this ain't it.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Beatrice on November 06, 2013, 11:35:41 AM
Well, follow the money to understand the underlying motivations.
I want to make sure it is understood that I'm not debating or taking a stance in opposition to you or others. I'm discussing, asking, learning, and sharing.

I think an underlying motivation of being paperless/green, accurate, integrated, accessible, and of serving people quickly and efficiently in real time would lead to a computer-operated system, which further reduces workload (as the patrons fill out their own info before approaching).

Any system can be abused by the people on either side of the system. The information collected can be mishandled through negligence or it can be actively mined. The system can give access privileges to one group over another which the first group can passively enjoy or actively exploit.

For example, living life with a disability isn't easy, but the lack of accessibility to rides at Disney led to a separate, often shorter, line for those with accessibility issues. While there were plenty of other concerns that could lead to a less than full or enjoyable time for these families, this accessibility workaround created a particular passive privilege (shorter lines) that was enjoyed by those who otherwise would not have been able to access the rides.

There are some who then claim accessibility issues in order to enjoy this benefit despite having no such issue, which is an abuse of the system. As ride lines are revamped, the accessibility issue is removed and all go through the same line. The right to equal access is maintained while the abuse is curbed. No doubt, the other issues of living with a disability might now combine with the relatively longer wait time to make Disney undoable for some with disabilities who were able to manage some time at the parks because of the passive privilege. This is a huge blow for them. Others will be able to accommodate and integrate. Those without disabilities will perceive it as a leveling of the playing field and a positive from their perspective. The underlying motivation for all these parties is equal access for their group.

However, there is a woman with a disability who hires herself out as a high-end (re: expensive) personal guide to Disney, selling her disability access to families willing to pay to have a disabled "guide" in their party, which is cheaper than the exclusive Disney guides who grant true front-of-the-line access. This is an intentional exploitation of the passive privilege. Her income is going to nose dive. I'm sure she's not too thrilled by accessible lines, either, but for a very different and money-driven motive.

The current BBNP system requires reservations for primitive sites to be made no greater than 24 hours in advance. The paper and pencil model granted a passive privilege to those who have the ability to arrive early or those who have family/friends in the area or those who have enough money to pay someone to go there for them. The upcoming computer system will equal the playing field for many who could not physically stand in line 24 hours in advance while it could create a passive advantage to those 81% of Americans who are using the internet.

There are opportunities for the federal government to abuse or exploit the data. I think in this day, it is only prudent to address those concerns as much as possible in advance because the accumulation of data is a real threat to individuals and groups. There's a counter-fear that some patrons will abuse or exploit the access, but the only concerns I've seen put forward are that some people will enjoy a passive privilege that was historically enjoyed by others who don't want to lose that passive privilege (a moot issue, in my opinion) or that sites will be overbooked and underutilized because of the ease of access to the reservations (a possible issue).

To preemptively protect against these fears, more power is automatically given to the NPS (collect and store identifying data, take action against individuals based on this accumulated data), which is then used in circular logic to rule out the entire system as an abuse by the NPS.

I think it is far more prudent to put strict restrictions in place on the NPS side (no accumulation of data, for example) and to do a limited roll-out (as it appears is happening) to work out bugs in the system, to give responsibility and authority to the low-level people to address kinks in the system as they arise (the camp host or scheduling ranger can override the system, reassign sites under these general guidelines, etc), then to modify the process based on the real issues faced and not on the fear of what could be. This protects the patrons while giving the fullest, most accurate access to the park.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lance on November 06, 2013, 12:20:26 PM
Well y'all can debate all day long whether this is a good or bad thing.. but all I saw was a new, pretty backcountry zone map which I could not resist the urge to make a Google Earth overlay out of!!  Click on the zone to see the capacity.

Big Bend Backcountry Zones (3 MB) (https://googledrive.com/host/0B8qrxIvDEnaSaGhjR0dwYm9pUE0/BigBendBackcountryZones.kmz)
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Beatrice on November 06, 2013, 12:25:37 PM
Well y'all can debate all day long whether this is a good or bad thing.. but all saw was a new, pretty backcountry zone map which I could not resist the urge to make a Google Earth overlay out of!!  Click on the zone to see the capacity.

Big Bend Backcountry Zones (3 MB) (https://googledrive.com/host/0B8qrxIvDEnaSaGhjR0dwYm9pUE0/BigBendBackcountryZones.kmz)
Sweet! That map has been up in a tab since I came across Jim's post of it. The overlay will be a nice help!
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on November 06, 2013, 01:02:00 PM
I've started a new thread at http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/backcountry-camping/backcountry-permit-software/ (http://www.bigbendchat.com/portal/forum/backcountry-camping/backcountry-permit-software/) to answer technical questions about the new backcountry software.  Plese keep all political/NPS discussions here.  Thanks.

Jim
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lissa on November 06, 2013, 01:34:24 PM
Jim - as I said in the other thread, thank you for that explanation of the software.  And I also have a semi-operational / software question for you, specifically if you think there is an (easy) way (technically) to take the permit numbers off of the public view of the site / make that information internal-access only? 

It wasn't something that had occurred to me prior to the discussion of solo hikers in the other thread, but after reading that I can understand the concerns with being able to track a permit number across sites (versus simply showing taken/available for a given site but without explicitly showing which permit number has which site).  Not sure how much of a real issue that is, but I can understand why having that out there would concern folks, and not sure having the actual permit # available for public view really helps the public with the worksheet process either.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: elhombre on November 06, 2013, 03:07:05 PM
So, here is a question.  It is 12:00 noon.  I am standing in front of the ranger with my $10 ready to pay for Paint Gap #1 for tonight.  Earlier that morning at 8:00am, Joe "Blue face" Smartphone requested Paint Gap #1 through El Campo for that same night.  He will show up at 4:30 to pay his $10.  Who gets Paint Gap #1?
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on November 06, 2013, 03:13:30 PM
So, here is a question.  It is 12:00 noon.  I am standing in front of the ranger with my $10 ready to pay for Paint Gap #1 for tonight.  Earlier that morning at 8:00am, Joe "Blue face" Smartphone requested Paint Gap #1 through El Campo for that same night.  He will show up at 4:30 to pay his $10.  Who gets Paint Gap #1?

First permit issued gets the site, just like before.  Worksheets don't entitle you to any particular site at any time.  Worksheets are NOT reservations.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lance on November 06, 2013, 03:20:43 PM
So, here is a question.  It is 12:00 noon.  I am standing in front of the ranger with my $10 ready to pay for Paint Gap #1 for tonight.  Earlier that morning at 8:00am, Joe "Blue face" Smartphone requested Paint Gap #1 through El Campo for that same night.  He will show up at 4:30 to pay his $10.  Who gets Paint Gap #1?

First permit issued gets the site, just like before.  Worksheets don't entitle you to any particular site at any time.
So since it's not a reservation system, but a replacement for the old pencil and pad method, elhombre should get the permit since he was there first?
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: waddamaroon on November 06, 2013, 04:23:00 PM
So, here is a question.  It is 12:00 noon.  I am standing in front of the ranger with my $10 ready to pay for Paint Gap #1 for tonight.  Earlier that morning at 8:00am, Joe "Blue face" Smartphone requested Paint Gap #1 through El Campo for that same night.  He will show up at 4:30 to pay his $10.  Who gets Paint Gap #1?

First permit issued gets the site, just like before.  Worksheets don't entitle you to any particular site at any time.
So since it's not a reservation system, but a replacement for the old pencil and pad method, elhombre should get the permit since he was there first?

Yep.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: RichardM on November 06, 2013, 04:27:40 PM
So, here is a question.  It is 12:00 noon.  I am standing in front of the ranger with my $10 ready to pay for Paint Gap #1 for tonight.  Earlier that morning at 8:00am, Joe "Blue face" Smartphone requested Paint Gap #1 through El Campo for that same night.  He will show up at 4:30 to pay his $10.  Who gets Paint Gap #1?

First permit issued gets the site, just like before.  Worksheets don't entitle you to any particular site at any time.
So since it's not a reservation system, but a replacement for the old pencil and pad method, elhombre should get the permit since he was there first?
Well, that might just depend on his attitude when talking to the ranger...  :eusa_whistle:
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lance on November 06, 2013, 04:29:47 PM

So, here is a question.  It is 12:00 noon.  I am standing in front of the ranger with my $10 ready to pay for Paint Gap #1 for tonight.  Earlier that morning at 8:00am, Joe "Blue face" Smartphone requested Paint Gap #1 through El Campo for that same night.  He will show up at 4:30 to pay his $10.  Who gets Paint Gap #1?

First permit issued gets the site, just like before.  Worksheets don't entitle you to any particular site at any time.
So since it's not a reservation system, but a replacement for the old pencil and pad method, elhombre should get the permit since he was there first?

Yep.
Thank goodness.  Elhombre was worrying he'd have to finally break down and get a cell-phone!
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: RichardM on November 06, 2013, 04:37:07 PM
One significant feature that this adds is that you can see what interest there is for specific sites. During hectic times like Spring Break, this would give you a heads-up on making contingency plans. No more eavesdropping on fellow campers while standing in line.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: elhombre on November 06, 2013, 04:46:08 PM
No cell phone.  No Facebook.  And only wear a watch while on vacation so I know how long till dark..... :dance:

Princes Sunshine aka. Cookie has it a little different.... :icon_rolleyes:
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Reece on November 09, 2013, 08:44:50 AM
My recent experience 10/31/13 with the new system is a little different. We were anxiously waiting in line for a back country permit at 4:30, Panther Junction behind a really slow couple dealing with a really slow ranger. We're talking about "retirement home meets postoffice" slow - two-finger pecking at the keyboard and jumping around from window to window, looking for this and that pane, asking the others for help getting information entered.
I'm tapping my foot, watching the clock with a 5:00 deadline approaching, thinking the "window closed" sign might come out before I make it up there. There were two other rangers killing time while this slow poke was killing me!
I had my downloaded worksheet all nicely filled out and I was about to start waving it in the air when the ranger looked up (he must have finally noticed me about to pee on myself) and said, "If you have a smart phone, you can enter the information on the web site and save some time." DANG! I whistled my hiking friend off the displays and put him to work. He had it all entered by the time the slow train to nowhere shuffled off and we were registered two minutes of "ranger time." That's all I know about it.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on December 28, 2013, 09:22:50 AM
FYI... since the new year is approaching, you might be interested in this note from page 8 of the 2013 compendium:
http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/upload/Signed-compendium.pdf (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/upload/Signed-compendium.pdf)

Quote
Camping in any combination of front or back country campsites for more than 28 nights in a 12 month time period is prohibited.  The 12 month time period is measured from July 1st through June 30th.  Between February 1st and April 15th, only 14 nights in any combination of front or back country campsites is allowed.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: badknees on December 28, 2013, 09:58:11 AM
FYI... since the new year is approaching, you might be interested in this note from page 8 of the 2013 compendium:
http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/upload/Signed-compendium.pdf (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/upload/Signed-compendium.pdf)

Quote
Camping in any combination of front or back country campsites for more than 28 nights in a 12 month time period is prohibited.  The 12 month time period is measured from July 1st through June 30th.  Between February 1st and April 15th, only 14 nights in any combination of front or back country campsites is allowed.

It doesn't surprise me that bureaucrats seem to have the insatiable need to make more inane rules. The funny thing is, how would NPS monitor this. How about if I sign in with different names every time. It's all a waste of time and effort.........
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Al on December 28, 2013, 12:59:50 PM
which may be why they ask for your drivers license.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: badknees on December 28, 2013, 05:11:47 PM
which may be why they ask for your drivers license.

License plate number only for front country, but the car could be used by multiple people during the course of a year.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: RichardM on December 28, 2013, 08:15:29 PM
Hopefully the rule is only in place for squatters and rarely enforced.

And speaking of niggling rules, someone got busted today for having tents set up in the full hook-up RV section at RGV. :eusa_naughty:
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Al on December 28, 2013, 11:23:47 PM
Shame shame shame on them.  NOT!  I can't help but wonder why the overflow camping at RGV was shut down all those years ago, much less why it was created in the first place . . . fond memories of camping there away from the maddening crowd.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: wigfall on December 30, 2013, 03:09:33 PM
Hopefully the rule is only in place for squatters and rarely enforced.

And speaking of niggling rules, someone got busted today for having tents set up in the full hook-up RV section at RGV. :eusa_naughty:

Were these the same people that put hot charcoal briquets in the dumpster and started a fire?
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: RichardM on December 30, 2013, 04:00:04 PM
Hopefully the rule is only in place for squatters and rarely enforced.

And speaking of niggling rules, someone got busted today for having tents set up in the full hook-up RV section at RGV. :eusa_naughty:

Were these the same people that put hot charcoal briquets in the dumpster and started a fire?
I doubt it. These were BBC members with a propane grill, I believe.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: FatPacker on January 31, 2014, 11:10:09 AM
something we learned about the El Campo system

It allowed us to create a worksheet for the campsites we wanted (for Friday night) on Thursday morning.
So I thought we were good to go....
but when I arrived at the PJ visitor's center Friday at 9:00 am, my sheet had been purged overnight.
the ranger said she did not know why it does that, but that is what had been happening.

Lucky for us we were there early and there were not many people requesting spots.
But I could have wound up with a 3rd choice selection, or no place to camp if it were another time of the year.
If I had known this, I could have re-created my worksheet from the hotel in Ft Stockton at 5 am Friday morning...

just a word to to the wise...
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: TexasAggieHiker on January 31, 2014, 12:56:43 PM
Creating a worksheet doesn't help you get a site.  Even if you had created a new one that morning, someone could have gotten to a visitor center before you and gotten the site you wanted.  It's still first come first serve.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: waddamaroon on January 31, 2014, 03:21:25 PM
I created my sheet at 7:05 am in the rest stop between Ft. Stockton & Marathon (there didn't used to be service there, had 3 bars this time). I was at PJ at 8:45 am so I was first in line. Had my permits and was out of the VC at 9:08 am. Worked like a champ for me, but YMMV.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Goatlegs on February 01, 2014, 10:28:10 PM
So, let me get this straight...  Instead of allowing backpackers coming from, say, 600 miles away to plan ahead and reserve backcountry campsites ahead of time (like every other national park I've ever visited), Big Bend rolls out this, uh, "online worksheet acceleration system" that does nothing more than get the paperwork started?  Hmmm...

Here's a crazy thought:  Why not join the 21st century and take reservations for campsites 3, 4 or 6 months in advance?  That system seems to work pretty well for those other parks like Grand Canyon, Glacier, Yellowstone...seems like it would work for Big Bend.

Sorry, but this just seems so backward to me...I'm very underwhelmed.  Not sure why I'd even bother to use it, frankly.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: TexasAggieHiker on February 02, 2014, 10:46:46 AM
The online system makes it a lot easier for the park service to issue permits.  Under the old paper system, if someone wanted to get or change a permit at one of the other visitor centers around the park, the ranger would have to call to Panther Junction and coordinate over the phone to issue the permit.  Now a permit can be issued straight from the system at any visitor center.  And hopefully the new system will help eliminate double bookings that some people have had to deal with.
I don't mind that you can't reserve a backcountry permit online.  Yeah, it would make it easier, especially for me.  But a lot of people don't plan trips 6 months in advance.  The fist come first served system is fair enough for me.  I'm mainly in the park during the busier times, and I've never had any real problems of getting the itinerary I wanted.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Goatlegs on February 02, 2014, 12:16:15 PM
I guess it is what it is, so we'll deal with it.  Just seems strange the way they seem dead-set against making long-range reservations.  We've walked up to places like Grand Canyon and been able to find good permits, but we've also reserved spots months ahead.  Most places allow both methods. 

We're making our first Big Bend trip in a couple of weeks. Hoping we don't get to the backcountry office after 9 hours on the road to find out we can't get anything our planned route.  We're "zone camping" for most of the trip, but want one of the Juniper sites the first night.  I'm sure we'll figure out a good route no matter what.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: kevint on February 02, 2014, 12:30:32 PM

Hoping we don't get to the backcountry office after 9 hours on the road to find out we can't get anything our planned route.

That's not going to happen.


Kevint
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Goatlegs on February 02, 2014, 12:51:05 PM
Ok, good to hear.  Doing the OML, so wondering if water at Fresno & Boot Springs. Caching water at Homer.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: TexasAggieHiker on February 02, 2014, 12:52:05 PM
I guess it is what it is, so we'll deal with it.  Just seems strange the way they seem dead-set against making long-range reservations.  We've walked up to places like Grand Canyon and been able to find good permits, but we've also reserved spots months ahead.  Most places allow both methods. 

We're making our first Big Bend trip in a couple of weeks. Hoping we don't get to the backcountry office after 9 hours on the road to find out we can't get anything our planned route.  We're "zone camping" for most of the trip, but want one of the Juniper sites the first night.  I'm sure we'll figure out a good route no matter what.
You've got about a 95% chance of getting what you want.  You will get the zone you want.  And you'll have no problem getting a Juniper site.  Outside of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring Break you won't have any issues.  Even during those "busy" times, I've always gotten the itinerary I wanted or one very close to it.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: catz on February 02, 2014, 03:20:51 PM
I agree with Texas Aggie Hiker.   And, if by some remote chance chance the Juniper sites are all taken, you'll be able to get another one along or off Glen Spring Road, such as Pine Canyon, Rice Tank, or Glen Spring itself.   
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on August 07, 2014, 04:17:38 PM
FYI... since the new year is approaching, you might be interested in this note from page 8 of the 2013 compendium:
http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/upload/Signed-compendium.pdf (http://www.nps.gov/bibe/parkmgmt/upload/Signed-compendium.pdf)

Quote
Camping in any combination of front or back country campsites for more than 28 nights in a 12 month time period is prohibited.  The 12 month time period is measured from July 1st through June 30th.  Between February 1st and April 15th, only 14 nights in any combination of front or back country campsites is allowed.

FYI... The 2014 compendium has changed the 12 month time interval for the 28 day per year camping limit back to a calendar year.

Camping in any combination of front or back country campsites for more than 28 nights in a 12 month time period is prohibited. The 12 month time period is measured from January 1st through December 31st.  From January 1 through April 15th, only 14 nights in any combination of front or back country campsites is allowed.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Don H on March 30, 2015, 01:05:00 PM
Creating a worksheet doesn't help you get a site.  Even if you had created a new one that morning, someone could have gotten to a visitor center before you and gotten the site you wanted.  It's still first come first serve.


Is this in fact the case? - if so, it would behoove me to arrive at a ranger station when they open in the morning.  Filling out the worksheet only speeds things up I guess?
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on March 30, 2015, 01:14:22 PM
Correctamundo.

Moderator Note: the latest address for El Campo is as follows.
New El Campo IP (http://75.41.147.131/permits/welcome.php)
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: austin gorpchomper on February 12, 2016, 11:02:38 AM
Is this site no longer active? It's not responding today.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Andreas on February 12, 2016, 11:09:32 AM
Is this site no longer active? It's not responding today.

Just clicked on the Link above your post (provided by Jim), and it worked fine (Firefox user). Hope you'll be able to access the site, too!
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: austin gorpchomper on February 12, 2016, 11:22:15 AM
Is this site no longer active? It's not responding today.

Just clicked on the Link above your post (provided by Jim), and it worked fine (Firefox user). Hope you'll be able to access the site, too!

Yes, it's up now.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: austin gorpchomper on February 12, 2016, 11:34:04 AM
I guess I was hitting a previous IP address that is not longer supported. Why don't they used a domain? And why not redirect the old IPs to the working one?
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: RichardM on February 12, 2016, 01:22:48 PM
I guess I was hitting a previous IP address that is not longer supported. Why don't they used a domain? And why not redirect the old IPs to the working one?
My guess is that they are not quite yet comfortable enough with it to make it easily accessible. I get the impression that they would prefer people only access it while at PJ.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Slimkitty on February 12, 2016, 04:01:04 PM
We used El Campo for our recent visit and it was overall a positive experience.  We entered at Persimmon Gap, and there was an older couple working the visitor center that afternoon.  They were both very pleasant, and it didn't take the woman long to figure out where my information was.  I was ready for a stern lecture but instead only received encouragement from these two.  One night I had hoped to book Fresno but it was taken.  So I picked Elephant Tusk instead, and when I asked if my Tundra would be ok on that portion of Black Gap, she said I'd have no problems, then told my wife to keep an eye out for marigolds.  It was a perfect start to what would end up being pretty much a perfect trip.


Sent from my iPhone using Big Bend Chat mobile app
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: raptor() on March 02, 2016, 10:07:02 AM
Although it doesn't specify, I'm assuming green means available.  What do the white boxes mean?  It explains the other colors but not white:

Red (with "Occupied" or "Closed") indicates unavailable camp sites. Yellow with "?" indicates camp sites that have been requested from worksheets, but have yet to be approved. Light yellow are second choice requests. Zones with numbers indicate "persons-granted-permits"/"zone-capacity" values. Camp Site legend: (R) Roadside, (C) Chisos, (Z) Zone.

Also, for the zone areas, it's somewhat confusing.  For example if you look at the Dodson zone for today, it says, "15/40" but then says "occupied" 6 times.  I'm assuming this means 15 out of a maximum of 40 people have reservations for this zone but why does it say "occupied" 6 times? Is that the number of groups of people?
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: austin gorpchomper on March 03, 2016, 09:38:34 PM
I *believe* the green/white is just a visual aid to help discern the rows.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on March 04, 2016, 05:44:31 AM
I *believe* the green/white is just a visual aid to help discern the rows.
Also known as "watermelon paper" from the early days of computing.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on March 04, 2016, 06:50:10 AM

Also, for the zone areas, it's somewhat confusing.  For example if you look at the Dodson zone for today, it says, "15/40" but then says "occupied" 6 times.  I'm assuming this means 15 out of a maximum of 40 people have reservations for this zone but why does it say "occupied" 6 times? Is that the number of groups of people?

Yes 15 people out of 40 possible.  I think the occupied means 6 different permits (six groups).
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: raptor() on March 04, 2016, 09:06:43 AM
Thanks guys for the clarification!  I'm heading out there next Wed morning so will try the online permit before I leave for the park.  Naturally, the weather forecast shows rain for 2 of the 3 days I'll be out there.   :icon_cry:  I'm hoping the forecast changes before then.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on March 04, 2016, 10:54:35 AM
I'm heading out there next Wed morning so will try the online permit before I leave for the park.
Actually, an online request for a permit.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mfifield01 on October 10, 2016, 11:54:27 AM
Can you get a permit at the Maverick Entrance Station?
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on October 10, 2016, 12:34:24 PM
No, only at the 4 visitor centers I believe.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: badknees on October 10, 2016, 02:30:19 PM
No, only at the 4 visitor centers I believe.

And RGV visitor center is closed in the summer......
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Flash on October 10, 2016, 03:04:59 PM
... as is Castolon.

Sent from my 831C using Big Bend Chat mobile app

Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: strawhouse on October 11, 2016, 09:23:37 AM
No, only at the 4 visitor centers I believe.
5 visitor centers? Panther Junction, Basin, Persimmon Gap, Castolon, and RGV
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on October 11, 2016, 10:58:21 AM
No, only at the 4 visitor centers I believe.
5 visitor centers? Panther Junction, Basin, Persimmon Gap, Castolon, and RGV

You are right, I always forget that Castolon is a visitor center and not just the museum.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mfifield01 on October 11, 2016, 11:02:24 AM
It looks like only 3 are open until November. I'll head to Panther Junction. I'll be staying in Terlingua before I come in.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lenny on November 21, 2016, 10:41:04 AM
Went out there this weekend and the ranger said my permit request did show and "that thing almost never works."
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on November 21, 2016, 03:33:31 PM
Went out there this weekend and the ranger said my permit request did show and "that thing almost never works."

I take exception to that ranger's comment.  I suspect he/she simply had no understanding of how the system works.

The worksheet queue is automatically cleared out at midnight each evening (per NPS request).  When did you create and save your worksheet, and when did the ranger make that comment??
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lenny on November 22, 2016, 11:36:25 AM
I made it at about 5 am and checked in around 9am.  Me and my friend got the feeling he just didn't want to mess with it, but I'm not sure.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on November 22, 2016, 01:20:59 PM
Wow... that's a pretty sad attitude.  Your worksheet was two clicks away for that Ranger. 
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Rio42 on January 08, 2017, 04:09:02 PM
Ok, so can someone explain why there are blocks of "occupied" squares on the availability calendar? I wanted to fill out a worksheet for a roadside site, for this upcoming weekend (Jan 13-15) but wouldnt I still need to be at the visitors center early? I want to get a site on an improved road cause I dont want to abuse my truck on one of the other roads like Old Ore or Black Gap Roads..
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on January 08, 2017, 05:59:53 PM
If it says occupied that means it is reserved for that day.  You can reserve for up to 14 nights. So it looks like to me that several sites people are staying at for long periods, not uncommon this time of year, snow birds.  Also no reason to fill out a form until the morning you will be at the visitor center to get your permit because they discard all worksheets in the system every night at midnight.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Rio42 on January 08, 2017, 07:26:06 PM
Ok so just wait till the morning of right? And if or when I ever have the pleasure of meeting you in person, I owe you a couple cold ones, mule ears! Youve helped me on other posts too
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on January 09, 2017, 05:42:59 AM
Ok so just wait till the morning of right? And if or when I ever have the pleasure of meeting you in person, I owe you a couple cold ones, mule ears! Youve helped me on other posts too

Yes morning of, it really mostly just speeds up the process at the desk, if the ranger knows how to use the system.  You are welcome and I never turn down a beer!   :kaos-cactus06:
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: andrwtzel on March 09, 2017, 03:30:55 PM
I hate to press the restart button, but I'm terribly confused.

I thought sites were only able to be booked in person, at the visitors center? Using this site I can now book my sites prior to my trip?
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on March 09, 2017, 03:39:32 PM
I hate to press the restart button, but I'm terribly confused.

I thought sites were only able to be booked in person, at the visitors center? Using this site I can now book my sites prior to my trip?

No, you can see what is already reserved but you can't reserve anything until the day you get there.  Once getting your permit you can then reserve anything up to 14 days in advance (https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_usepermits.htm) (as long as it is one continuous visit (I think that is correct  :eusa_think:)
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: RichardM on January 19, 2018, 03:07:27 PM
I noticed the El Campo system was down this morning, so I contacted the park and got this response:

Quote
The El Campo permitting system is no longer in existence, as of 5:00 pm Thursday.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lance on January 19, 2018, 03:10:14 PM
I noticed the El Campo system was down this morning, so I contacted the park and got this response:

Quote
The El Campo permitting system is no longer in existence, as of 5:00 pm Thursday.

I was told by Ranger Bob sometime in 2016 that it was going away. He said it caused too many problems because people thought it was a reservation system. Donít know if that was true or not.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on January 19, 2018, 03:26:39 PM
I was told by Ranger Bob sometime in 2016 that it was going away. He said it caused too many problems because people thought it was a reservation system. Don’t know if that was true or not.

I think that response was a deflection away from the NPS.  The real issue was that the system was not behind the DOI firewall - that it was accessible by the public, and they worried that some personal information might be compromised (a valid concern).  The original signed Memorandum of Agreement with the NPS specified that they were responsible for firewall issues.  Sadly, rather than making any effort in that direction, regional told BIBE to disconnect the system, and the park decided to go back to handwritten permits.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Lance on January 19, 2018, 03:31:52 PM
Anti-NPS rant in 3, 2, 1....
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Flash on January 19, 2018, 03:53:11 PM
Jim, did you get a chance to dump any data before it went offline?   :eusa_think:
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on January 19, 2018, 03:58:14 PM
I used to get data off the mirrored test system, but that is now out of commission, too.

Maybe a FOIA request could get you what you need before the data is erased.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: presidio on January 19, 2018, 05:08:26 PM
Anti-NPS rant in 3, 2, 1....

Having never used any campsite planning or reservation system, I am unclear as to exactly what the benefit of this "service" was.

If the entered data was flushed every night, and no reservations could be made, and sites only could be gotten in person, what was the point of this exercise?

It was useless without an ability to reserve anything, as whatever planning was done meant nothing until you arrived and learned what actually was available, subject to everyone ahead of you in line.

Sounds like the digital equivalent of a fidget spinner; a distraction lacking productivity.

Educate me. What did I miss about this? How did it solve any problem? While it may have been useful in-house (from what I've read in a volunteer newsletter) it does not appear it had any public benefit other than automating things while actually getting a permit.

So, if it was useful in-house and there were firewall concerns, that's easily solved by eliminating the public access that only served to confuse and frustrate tourists. The NPS itself is an analog for digital operation: either on or off; no ability to parse a middle ground, and unable to extract the positive from the negative and be flexible.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on January 19, 2018, 06:53:12 PM
Having never used any campsite planning or reservation system, I am unclear as to exactly what the benefit of this "service" was.

Sounds like the digital equivalent of a fidget spinner; a distraction lacking productivity.  Educate me. What did I miss about this? How did it solve any problem?

Well, I can see if you never used El Campo you might be ignorant of any benefit for a visitor.  For me, the biggest public benefit was to be able to look from anywhere in the world at the calendar of all campsites in real time and see which sites were taken.  Also being able to look at the site calendar in previous years would answer the perennial question of "how likely can I get a backcountry site during the <XXX> holiday". For those of us living a full day's drive away (or more), knowing the odds of getting a backcountry site before setting out on a long trek was invaluable.  The rest of the visitor accessible info was mainly boilerplate, but being able to see pictures of the sites might have been of some use to visitors.  That same info was available on the NPS website - if you could find it.

From a queuing theory standpoint, especially during busy times like spring break, allowing all visitors to enter a valid worksheet in parallel in the PJ community room saved everyone way more time than standing in line single file in front of the ranger trying verbally to communicate the same information not knowing ahead of time if the sites you wanted were available (the worksheet entry did real-time checking so a visitor could only request available sites that could accommodate their party).  And being able to issue permits from any visitor center eliminated the need for a remote VC to call in to PJ and wait for the "log book" to get free long enough from other rangers issuing permits to see if the sites the remote visitor wanted were actually available.

That said, the even greater benefit was for BIBE rangers.  Instant communication across all departments in real time, the ability to find which solo hikers were late to return (this function, I believe, actually saved one or two lives), ensuring that camp sites were never double booked, being able to generate reports and graphs from real data instead of spending your tax dollars to a University to compile a report for them, automating reports that used to be manually generated by BIBE employees, being able to see which campsites had the heaviest usage so they could be inspected for wear and tear, being able to invoice permit fees to outfitters who used the system, current park information, especially weather, sunrise/sunset times, or other important information printed right on each permit , the ability to hold campsites for visitors bringing horses (only a few campsites can accommodate stock animals), and the ability to modify and reprint permits are some of the highlight.  There are others, but I digress.

I also believed that solving the DOI firewall problem was straightforward, but those in control at Regional did not want to consider any alternatives.

Hope this helps shine a light on what compelled me to write this program for the NPS (but more so for visitors).  It got them away from a laborious, slow, and error prone Big Chief Tablet approach, but my main reason was to give visitors visibility to current real-time campsite usage.  Spring Break should be an interesting time for all involved.  We shall see.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Flash on January 19, 2018, 07:15:13 PM
Spring Break should be an interesting time for all involved.  We shall see.
Yeah, that's what I was thinking...  :icon_rolleyes:

Nicest thing about El Campo, in addition to allowing you to fill out all your info ahead time, is the ability to see how full the Park is and to research the use patterns for the various campsites and/or zones. That will be missed, placing many of us back in the dark and more at the mercy of the Ranger and the Book with no way to call them out if they are mistaken.

They should find a way to keep the system. Maybe they need the BBNHA to rescue them yet again from their own bureaucracy.   :)
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on January 19, 2018, 07:22:13 PM
They should find a way to keep the system. Maybe they need BBNHA to rescue them yet again from their own bureaucracy.   :)
I wish I knew how to do that, but sometimes you just need to let nature take its course.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: elhombre on January 19, 2018, 07:37:19 PM
Anti-NPS rant in 3, 2, 1....

Can't let Lance down  --   Simply incredible move back to a time long (almost) forgotten.

It's called "Read Only"

Jim summed it up best.  This is going to keep the LE very busy driving around trying to straighten out duplicate issuing of permits.  Many rangers and volunteers had a tough enough time issuing a permit when the electronic system would at least keep them in line. I think this is completely on purpose to keep the public eye out of the data stream. 

Can't stop shaking my head back and forth.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Desert Beacon on January 19, 2018, 08:30:48 PM
They should find a way to keep the system. Maybe they need BBNHA to rescue them yet again from their own bureaucracy.   :)
I wish I knew how to do that, but sometimes you just need to let nature take its course.
Thank you, Jim, for your hard work developing and supporting El Campo. You should be proud of all the time and headaches you saved the rangers and volunteers at the park's visitor centers and, of course, for the service you and the visitor centers' staff provided the visitors via El Campo. It will be interesting to see what comes next (after the interim return to "the old way").
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: presidio on January 19, 2018, 08:36:53 PM
Having never used any campsite planning or reservation system, I am unclear as to exactly what the benefit of this "service" was.

Sounds like the digital equivalent of a fidget spinner; a distraction lacking productivity.  Educate me. What did I miss about this? How did it solve any problem?

Well, I can see if you never used El Campo you might be unaware of any benefit for a visitor.  For me, the biggest public benefit was to be able to look from anywhere in the world at the calendar of all campsites in real time and see which sites were taken.  Also being able to look at the site calendar in previous years would answer the perennial question of "how likely can I get a backcountry site during the <XXX> holiday". For those of us living a full day's drive away (or more), knowing the odds of getting a backcountry site before setting out on a long trek was invaluable.  The rest of the info was mainly boilerplate, but being able to see pictures of the sites might have been of some use to visitors.  That same info was available on the NPS website - if you could find it.

From a queuing theory standpoint, especially during busy times like spring break, allowing all visitors to enter a valid worksheet in parallel in the PJ community room saved everyone way more time than standing in line single file in front of the ranger trying verbally to communicate the same information not knowing ahead of time if the sites you wanted were available (the worksheet entry did real-time checking so a visitor could only request available sites that could accommodate their party).  And being able to issue permits from any visitor center eliminated the need for a remote VC to call in to PJ and wait for the "log book" to get free long enough from other rangers issuing permits to see if the sites the remote visitor wanted were actually available.

That said, the even greater benefit was for BIBE rangers.  Instant communication across all departments in real time, the ability to find which solo hikers were late to return (this function, I believe, actually saved one or two lives), ensuring that camp sites were never double booked, being able to generate reports and graphs from real data instead of spending your tax dollars to a University to compile a report for them, automating reports that used to be manually generated by BIBE employees, being able to see which campsites had the heaviest usage so they could be inspected for wear and tear, being able to invoice permit fees to outfitters who used the system, current park information, especially weather, sunrise/sunset times, or other important information printed right on each permit , the ability to hold campsites for visitors bringing horses (only a few campsites can accommodate stock animals), and the ability to modify and reprint permits are some of the highlight.  There are others, but I digress.

I also believed that solving the DOI firewall problem was straightforward, but those in control at Regional did not want to consider any alternatives.

Hope this helps shine a light on what compelled me to write this program for the NPS (but more so for visitors).  It got them away from a laborious, slow, and error prone Big Chief Tablet approach, but my main reason was to give visitors visibility to current real-time campsite usage.  Spring Break should be an interesting time for all involved.  We shall see.

Thank you for the explanation.

I make it a point to never go to the park during the holidays or spring break; so much more usable and enjoyable without the teeming hordes.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: presidio on January 19, 2018, 08:40:26 PM
Hope this helps shine a light on what compelled me to write this program for the NPS (but more so for visitors). 

Therein lies the point of failure. You may have been doing it as a volunteer, but you created something the NPS didn't have the smarts or initiative to do. It wasn't "their" creation. The agency simply does not accept being one-upped.

Nor will they admit making a mistake, even when it's plain to everyone looking.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on January 19, 2018, 08:44:27 PM
I believe they may be working on a spreadsheet as a replacement to track site usage - still with handwritten permits.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on January 19, 2018, 09:27:52 PM
Anti-NPS rant in 3, 2, 1....

Can't let Lance down  --   Simply incredible move back to a time long (almost) forgotten.

It's called "Read Only"

Jim summed it up best.  This is going to keep the LE very busy driving around trying to straighten out duplicate issuing of permits.  Many rangers and volunteers had a tough enough time issuing a permit when the electronic system would at least keep them in line. I think this is completely on purpose to keep the public eye out of the data stream. 

Can't stop shaking my head back and forth.
+1 to that

Sent from my Nexus 6P using Big Bend Chat mobile app (http://r.tapatalk.com/byo?rid=88143)

Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on January 20, 2018, 06:54:04 AM
Thank you, Jim, for your hard work developing and supporting El Campo. You should be proud of all the time and headaches you saved the rangers and volunteers at the park's visitor centers and, of course, for the service you and the visitor centers' staff provided the visitors via El Campo. It will be interesting to see what comes next (after the interim return to "the old way").
I appreciate that.  It was actually a fun project from an architectural and programming standpoint.  I certainly learned a lot.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: House Made of Dawn on January 22, 2018, 06:14:14 PM
Thank you, Jim, for your hard work developing and supporting El Campo. You should be proud of all the time and headaches you saved the rangers and volunteers at the park's visitor centers and, of course, for the service you and the visitor centers' staff provided the visitors via El Campo. It will be interesting to see what comes next (after the interim return to "the old way").
I appreciate that.  It was actually a fun project from an architectural and programming standpoint.  I certainly learned a lot.

I'm just now catching up with this.

+1 on Desert Beacon's kudos, Jim. I don't think it's possible to thank you enough for all the thought, and time, and effort you put into El Campo. You saw a need and a way to contribute and you stepped up in a big way.  :notworthy:  I used this thread, and the story of El Campo, and your personal example,  as a teaching moment for my kids. 

I'll miss El Campo. I didn't actually use it much for direct permit planning because most of my travel in BiBe is either waaaaay off-trail or waaay off-season, so I don't worry much about competition for permits. But I DID use it a ton for researching past usage histories. I can imagine its data was extremely useful to park staff, both in real time and as an historical record. I hate to see all that data disappear.

Anyhoo....thanks, man. Your service is appreciated.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on January 22, 2018, 06:33:20 PM
Muchas gracias.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: RichardM on January 22, 2018, 06:50:08 PM
I'm not sure how much help my couple of hours of beta-testing were, but it at least allowed me to see its potential. It would've been great to see it grow into a full reservation system, but I guess that won't happen at BIBE any time soon.

The paper version:
Quote from: https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/bc_usepermits.htm
(https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/upload/BC_worksheet.png)
https://www.nps.gov/bibe/planyourvisit/upload/BC_worksheet.png
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: Jim on January 22, 2018, 07:04:25 PM
I'm not sure how much help my couple of hours of beta-testing were, but it at least allowed me to see its potential. It would've been great to see it grow into a full reservation system, but I guess that won't happen at BIBE any time soon.
I appreciated your help, Richard.  It was very difficult to get Rangers to do beta testing - they had other priorities, of course.  So any feedback prior to deployment made the system ultimately run smoother.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: House Made of Dawn on January 22, 2018, 07:20:23 PM
I'm not sure how much help my couple of hours of beta-testing were, but it at least allowed me to see its potential. It would've been great to see it grow into a full reservation system, but I guess that won't happen at BIBE any time soon.
I appreciated your help, Richard.  It was very difficult to get Rangers to do beta testing - they had other priorities, of course.  So any feedback prior to deployment made the system ultimately run smoother.

Which just goes to prove the point I'm always making in my trip reports: every landscape - real or virtual - that we enter into is the product of untold contributions by people we will probably never meet or know.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: firefly1 on February 01, 2018, 03:18:26 PM
Is this system accurate for past reservations in the park? I looked recently at a random weekday in January last year and it shows the park nearly completely full.  Seeing this made me postpone my trip as I didn't want to drive 14 hours to be in the park when it's that full just hoping to get a camp spot. 
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: mule ears on February 01, 2018, 03:24:38 PM
You must have looked at it back in December because it is not longer available.  But yes if it showed things as full it was accurate.  What were you looking at?  The most likely to be full would be the roadside campsites, snow birds.
Title: Re: Online Backcountry permitting now available for BBNP
Post by: firefly1 on February 04, 2018, 09:27:44 PM
Well crud. So when is the best time to go when you're more likely to be able to get a roadside camp spot?  I really thought if I went in January or February I would have an easy time getting a primitive spot.   

OH and yes I was looking in December.  So I guess there's no way now to see which spots are being reserved?