What do you do when an area of the
park is closed to the public or is not handicapped accessible?
You take a Ranger-Led Virtual Tour.
At a number of National Parks and
National Park Service Rangers have use our Interpretive
Virtual Tours as a tool to provide access to difficult
to reach locations.
Displayed on large plasma screens,
the interpretive programs allow the rangers and visitors
to instantly travel through the park. The interactive
tools allow the ranger and visitors to move around in
each location, and zoom in and out of features within
each scene. For many people, limited by time, money,
or physical ability, this type of tour provides a valuable
Rangers at Montezuma Castle prepare
to present a tour of Montezuma Castle to visitors.
Mesa Verde National
Rangers and staff have used two plasma screen
displays to provide interpretive information
to visitors to the park. For tour-desk staff, a plasma
screen display located nearby allows visitors to preview
their tour of Cliff
Palace, Balcony House, Spruce
Tree House, and Long House.
Visitors who are physically unable to reach these sites
can use the plasma screen display on their own or in conjunction
with a ranger who may guide them through the sites on
Castle National Monument...
Rangers use a plasma screen display in the visitor center
to conduct informal tours of Montezuma Castle.
The Castle is the central feature of the park, however
visitors are not allowed inside the protected structure.
In October 2004, our crew photographed six sites inside
the Castle with the approval and assistance of the National
Park Service. Rangers now use the 360
Degrees of Ancient Dwellings program to show and educate
visitors about the Castle and why it is protected.
Tortugas National Park...
National Park Service Ranger Mike Ryan leads virtual
tours of various off-limits areas of Fort Jefferson
and the keys of Dry Tortugas National Park. Areas of the
park that are closed to the public include the inside
of Garden Key Lighthouse, the inside
of Loggerhead Lighthouse, Hospital
Key, Bush Key and Long
Key (during nesting season), the inside of a
casemate cistern, and many other sites
on the islands.
Caverns National Park...
Rangers have the 360
Degrees of Carlsbad Caverns program installed on the
theatre projection system. In the theatre, Rangers can
lead tours of locations in the Cavern where visitors cannot
go due to physical limitations. The Slaugther
Canyon Cave Tour, Lower Cave Tour,
and others offered at the park require a moderate to high
level of fitness and are not handicapped accessible. For
those visitors, the Rangers are now beginning to provide
a new way for them to experience the wonders of the Cavern.
In the near future, the virtual tour will include caves
that are simply not open to the public regardless of physical
ability, such as the Bell Cord Room.
"This is the most innovative
interpretive tool that I have seen. Never before have visitors
been able to stand in the midst of the nation's only important
Sooty Tern colony, explore Fort Jefferson's darkest secrets,
or climb two hundred steps to the top of an active lighthouse.
Our visitors love it."
- Mike T. Ryan
Chief Interpretive Ranger, Dry
Tortugas National Park