The State Of Minnesota Launches New ‘Great Outdoors’ Website

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Via News Release

“SAINT PAUL – Just in time for Great Outdoors Month, the State of Minnesota announced the launch of a new online tool to help outdoor recreationalists find amenities at Minnesota’s parks and trails across the state.

The Minnesota Great Outdoors website allows people planning to visit parks and trails – both regional and state-owned – to easily filter their search based on location, accessibility, camping amenities, lodging, interpretive programming, rental equipment availability, and landscape features, among other interests.”

“Consolidating geospatial information that exists in dozens or hundreds of places into a single website makes it easier for Minnesotans to find the outdoor options that might be just beyond their back door, or near a favorite destination,” said Minnesota IT Services Commissioner Johanna Clyborne. “This is our mission: to work in partnership with agencies, sharing expertise and data that provides full, rich experiences for Minnesotans.”

Users accessing the Minnesota Great Outdoors site can:

  • Search for parks and trails by name
  • Pan and zoom across a map of Minnesota to find parks and trails
  • Drop a pin on a specific location to compare parks and trails without losing track of what you’ve seen
  • Use search filters to come up with a list of parks and trails with specific amenities

“Previously, you would have to know which office or region managed the park or trail you were looking for. Now, you have a clear, easy-to-navigate launchpad to find all of the information you need to plan your trip,” said Minnesota Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “By bridging technology with Minnesota’s beautiful parks and trails, we aim to make it even easier for people to connect with the bountiful outdoor opportunities available in our state.”

While this website does not include information about national or city parks and trails, it provides in-depth information about state and regional parks that is helpful to Minnesotans and visitors in all corners of the state, during all times of the year. The website’s search filters even break out trails by use, indicating trails that are best for hiking, off-highway vehicles, snowmobiles, and bicycles. To date, the Minnesota Great Outdoors site includes more than 184 parks and 419 trails.

“This new site will help connect even the most casual parks and trails visitors with the great outdoor recreational opportunities available in greater Minnesota,” said Renee Mattson, Executive Director of Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission. “It’s the perfect ‘first-stop’ for information when planning out a trip to a new area or region.”

This new mobile-friendly site was made possible by the Minnesota Legacy Parks and Trails Fund, and it shows all state and regional parks and trails that are eligible to receive Legacy funding.

While the online map is now fully public, work continues to add additional information about Minnesota’s state and regional parks and trails, particularly related to recreational activities and the locations of these opportunities.

Comments

  • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

    Considering what a great asset Minnesota’s four seasons truly are coupled with all that the outdoors have to offer here – this is an interesting thing to see made.

    Why doesn’t the lander just immediately offer up some instant usability, but instead requires users to click through to a ‘swapped’ URL from https://mn.gov/greatoutdoors/ to https://greatoutdoors.mn.gov/ to actually search? It must be something technical I don’t understand because the poor UX there just makes no sense.

    I think this simple webmap tool (search,pan/zoom,pin) which took 2 years time and cost taxpayers $216,361 to produce, could be found useful to some people out there and does a good job highlighting the stellar parks & trails here in a promotional sense.

    There are already some well-established private companies (alltrails, trailforks, mountainbikeproject come to mind, even strava) developing and supporting increasingly sophisticated (and highly social) apps that are only getting better in terms of their reach and depth in this space (not sure about the ATV/snowmobile stuff). How could this new site even compare to those?

    Perhaps this tool is more targeting those just easing into their exploration of Minnesota’s great outdoors looking for something fast and simple, which is the majority of the population to be sure.

    • killershrew

      Despite being a user of AllTrails, I was still excited to see this new Great Outdoors website. If we want to grumble about UX, let’s be honest – AllTrails does not offer the best experience either. On AllTrails, the appearance for “Plan” and “History” are pretty much identical, but the searches for each section are separate. If you go into your History to look at something and then try to search for a new trail to explore, well… best of luck with that. Even though I know the site behaves this way, I still find myself forgetting how it works as I move along and am constantly frustrated with it.

      Also, if you want to find new parks, you have to go under “Explore.” Under “Plan,” you don’t get little map markers denoting each park – only markers that you’ve already marked your interest in. It’s kind of maddening to use.

      And on top of all that, AllTrails doesn’t actually have ALL the trails. You usually have to go to the website for a specific park and find the park map in order to see all the trails. I’ve been adding quite a few trails to All Trails lately that are missing in Minnesotan parks….

      TBH, I was happy to see this new state website. I am more likely to use it than AllTrails to find a new park, and then I’ll use AllTrails (and other sites) to find trails within the parks. And the whole switch from mn.gov/outdoors to greatoutdoors.mn.gov doesn’t bother me at all. I had spent some time on the site already before reading this article, and didn’t even notice the switch until you pointed it out in your comment.

      • http://tech.mn Jeff Pesek

        right on, happy hiking!

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