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recreation.gov problems?

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recreation.gov problems?

Postby SSSdave » Fri May 30, 2014 10:29 pm

Have made 4 previous reservations with the recreation.gov site being increasingly used by national forests for wilderness permits. However tonight had trouble getting the site to accept a trip in Inyo NF. Not sure why but eventually got it to work but rather annoying. I logged in and found My Acount correctly showed another trip up Convict Creek I already have reservations for at the end of June.

Basic problem is after verifying dates were available then entering trip details on the Book page filling out all the trip details correctly and then selecting the Continue Shopping or Book Now fields, it would go to a page saying there was something incomplete that I needed to fill in more details. Note all the required fields show a red asterisk plus there is a checkbox for "did you read blah blah". Not difficult to be certain everything was filled out. Was trying to book Inyo National Forest, Kearsarge Pass trailhead for mid July, a 7-day backpack. Each time I went back to check the details so I might change whatever, the software would annoyingly lose everything I'd entered except the entry trailhead and date. After going around in circles a few times absolutely sure everything was correct, it was obvious something else was blocking me. Thus removed the uncompleted trip on my account and logged out then went back in and repeated but same issue. Also tried changing the trip length to minimal with different itinerary but same thing.

Then logged out again, exited the site, re-entered the site, and logged back in. This time selected the first item on the long Inyo trailhead pop-down list that was Barker and Green Lakes and built a phony 2 night trip a couple days ahead of the one I really wanted. That seemed to enter ok and got through all the way through to the payment section. Instead of doing the payment, I selected Continue Shopping and this time entered my 7-day trip and it didn't complain. At Shopping Checkout I deleted the Barker trip so my cart just showed the Kearsarge trip I wanted. The rest of the process went ok.

So anyone else having any odd wilderness permit experiences on recreation.gov?



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Re: recreation.gov problems?

Postby Mike M. » Sun Jun 01, 2014 12:47 am

SSSDave,

I haven't had the same experience but really dislike the site. It is unnecessarily difficult to use; the previous system was much more user friendly. The daily camp sites the new site asks for are really meaningless since, when you arrive at the ranger station to pick up your actual permit, they ask for the same information all over again, as if you never entered it at recreation.gov. And more often than not, at least in my experience, the staff at the ranger station is unfamiliar with the areas and spend an awful lot of time searching for the right input codes for the areas. Last year, after lots of searching, they finally threw up their hands and just winged it. A better system would allow us to just list our intended campsites by name and then have a clerk enter the appropriate data codes at the end of the day. I believe this would greatly streamline the process, both for us (the customers) and for the staff; it would also provide valuable and much more specific information in the event of an emergency. The last two times I picked up permits, it took me 30 minutes to get in and out, not counting the time I spent waiting in line. The permit issuers had no familiarity with the trails or conditions, it seemed.

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Re: recreation.gov problems?

Postby SSSdave » Sun Jun 01, 2014 6:36 am

Thanks Mike, good input. The mind set of those making the list is that visitors usually stay at lakes. And that is of course true though this person has always found that a rather amusing. But for this person when choosing destinations unlike the majority of backpackers, I often don't actually stay right at lakes which make up the majority of choices. So for my choices, in Sequoia National Park on the west side of Kearsarge Pass most nights were SEKI - Other. A better system instead of listing say Rae Lakes would list as Rae Lakes and basin. Or Kearsarge Lakes and basin. That meaning if one is camping within the drainage basin. But since that gets rather topographically complicated, likely beyond what the average backpacker is going to understand, multiple basins might at times be grouped into the same zone. In fact the old NPS system used zones. Then everything above draing into Bullfrog Lake would be a zone or they might also include that with the Charlotte Creek ie Charlotte Lake drainage. In order for backpackers to know what the zones were there would be links to crude maps on the recreation.gov site that backpackers would be supposed to review before getting to the itinerary section so they would know which one's to choose.
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Re: recreation.gov problems?

Postby kpeter » Sun Jun 01, 2014 7:35 am

I had a very similar experience with the site. Very difficult to navigate, it would time out and then lose information. It took me half a dozen attempts over several days to complete the reservations for one trip. Eventually I got them--but after all my circuitous attempts I cannot remember what I did to make it finally work.
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Re: recreation.gov problems?

Postby maverick » Sun Jun 01, 2014 2:23 pm

Have you all addressed these issues on the pop-ups that come up while on the site? The
only way they will make any changes is if enough people chime in with their concerns and
frustrations.
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: recreation.gov problems?

Postby SSSdave » Mon Jun 02, 2014 10:06 am

I'm likely to make an input after hearing whatever odd experiences others here have noticed.
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Re: recreation.gov problems?

Postby Jimr » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:33 am

Site must have been written by CGI Federal.

I used it for the first and second time in Feb and March and it wasn't a problem at that time, but it is unnecessarily difficult. I like the idea of merely choosing the watershed you are likely to be in on each day instead of a specific spot.
What?!
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Re: recreation.gov problems?

Postby schmalz » Tue Jun 03, 2014 9:53 am

The entire system needs an overhaul. Usual wait time for me in Lone Pine is about a half hour to get a permit on weekends. Half the people taking all the time are tourists who could have answered any of their questions by looking at all of the nearby books for sale. They need to further automate the process on both ends.
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Re: recreation.gov problems?

Postby SSSdave » Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:44 am

Last night another person looked at my reservation for a 4-day Convict Creek in late June trip for two of us and noticed the exit date was the day after the entry date or just 2 days? Something I had not noticed after receiving the confirmation email!

So went to the recreation.gov site, logged in, brought up that trip, and was able to change it to the 4 days I had set it up for. Upon making changes the site also sent an email with the update. That went smoothly and is a good example of how the new system is potentially better. However am wondering how the site managed to change the exit date because I very clearly recall entering itinerary information for 3 nights that required two different lake choices. If I had typo'd and actually selected an exit date for just a 2-day trip, then that page would have never displayed itinerary input information for 3 nights. In other words, the page calculates how many nights by the entry minus exit dates and then displays that number of empty fields to fill in for each night. So in future would advise checking confirmation emails closely as apparently some of information filled in may be manually re-entered by those at the permit office.
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