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GPS Ranger™ uses unique technology to enhance visitors’ Shenandoah experience!
Austin, Texas – Greta Miller, Executive Director of the Shenandoah National Park Association announced today the launch of a new interpretive tool, the GPS Ranger™, for visitors at Shenandoah National Park. Visitors to the park can experience the Blue Ridge Mountains and learn more about the park’s unique history, land, plants, and animals with the assistance of the multimedia GPS Ranger™ tour guide system. Informative and educational ranger-narrated videos automatically play as guests hike.
The GPS Ranger is a patent-pending, handheld computer device that delivers on-site interpretation, including compelling video, audio, musical soundtrack and historical photography based on the location of the user through the power of GPS (Global Positioning System) technology. Visitors rent the units from the Byrd Visitor Center at milepost 51 of Skyline Drive for only $9.95 and can then choose from four popular hikes. The three-and-a-half hour Shenandoah National Park video tour rental can accommodate about one longer hike or two shorter ones.
Visitors can choose to explore from the following areas with the GPS Ranger tour –
Appalachian Trail – Hike a one-mile section of this epic footpath that stretches 2,175 miles from Georgia to Maine. Learn about the history of the trail and Shenandoah, and meet a “thru-hiker” on his way to Maine.
Dark Hollow Falls – Hike down a beautiful canyon to Shenandoah’s most popular waterfall. Discover where this tumbling cascade begins and where it’s headed!
Hawksbill – See the dramatic 360 degree view from Shenandoah’s highest peak. The GPS Ranger helps visitors understand how these peaks formed and what impacts the view.
Big Meadows – Discover an open meadow that is full of history and unique flora and fauna. From Native Americans and early settlers to the park dedication by President Franklin Roosevelt in 1936 and a WWII training camp for soldiers, this meadow is much more than an open space in the forest.
Visitors walking one of the selected trails while using the unit will automatically see and hear meaningful interpretive content as they encounter features such as a former homesite or an example of columnar jointing.
The stories of the park are told through multimedia presentations using historic photos and film footage, interviews with park specialists, animations and demonstrations. For example, during the hike along the Appalachian Trail visitors “meet,” through video, an Appalachian Trail “thru hiker” passing through Shenandoah as he walks the entire length of the 1,275-mile trail.
Miller explains, “The GPS Ranger is a great way to get to know your national park.” The GPS Ranger is one of several ongoing projects designed to attract the new generation of “digital natives.” Karen Michaud, Chief of Interpretation at Shenandoah reports, “We are constantly looking at ways to enhance the visitor experience at Shenandoah and involve the next generation. We hope the GPS Ranger will attract those who have an interest in new technology; it is an innovative combination of technology and the rich cultural and natural history and management of Shenandoah.”
“We are excited to launch the GPS Ranger tour guide system at Shenandoah National Park. We have worked closely with the park to integrate their story in a fun and entertaining manner. We hope that visitors will enjoy taking the Ranger tour as much as we have enjoyed putting the tour together,” said Wm. Lee Little, CEO and Founder of BarZ Adventures Inc, developer of the GPS Ranger tour guide system.
The project is a joint effort between Shenandoah National Park Association, Shenandoah National Park, Shenandoah National Park Trust, and BarZ Adventures. Rentals will be handled by the Shenandoah National Park Association, (www.snpbooks.org) a non-profit partner which manages the park’s bookstores and uses its profits to support the interpretive and educational activities of Shenandoah National Park. Content for the program was developed by park personnel in correlation with BarZ Adventures.
The Shenandoah National Park Trust, (www.snptrust.org) a non-profit fund raising organization supporting the restoration and preservation of the outstanding natural beauty and cultural heritage of Shenandoah National Park, provided funding for content development.
BarZ Adventures has created tours for several resources within the National Park system including Death Valley National Park, Vicksburg National Military Park, Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Cedar Brakes National Monument.
Other park tours coming soon include Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park. In addition to parks, the GPS Ranger can also be found for historical walking tours of Key West Florida and Austin, Texas, while zoo tours delivered through the Zoo Ranger™ are currently available at San Francisco Zoo, Dallas Zoo and Oklahoma City Zoo.
Tours of St. Augustine, Florida, Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Bermuda and the Santa Barbara Zoo are also in development. Ranger series tours can be crafted in any language and Deaf Friendly tours are now available in American Sign Language and captioning for visitors with special needs.
ABOUT BARZ ADVENTURES INC
BarZ Adventures Inc., founded in 2005, is an Austin, Texas-based company combining experts in the fields of computer delivery systems and content development. BarZ Adventures has designed the patent-pending GPS Ranger™ and Zoo Ranger™ systems with large venues and their visitors in mind. The mission of the company is to enhance the visitor experience at high visitation tourist locations using modern technology. Ranger series tours provide educational and entertaining content based on location using compelling video, audio and music soundtrack, historic photography and Flash animation to tell the history, culture and stories that make venues unique.
ABOUT SHENADOAH NATIONAL PARK
Shenandoah National Park includes 300 square miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the central Appalachians of Virginia. Only 75 miles from the nation’s capital, 40% of Shenandoah National Park is federally designated wilderness. Shenandoah has over 500 miles of hiking trails. Visitors can experience spectacular vistas, beautiful waterfalls, and quiet walks through lush forests.
The park also has numerous visitor centers, exhibits, and historic sites. For more information about Shenandoah National Park visit their website at www.nps.gov/shen