In late 2018, a multi-agency partnership completed a major overhaul of Recreation.gov, the central portal for booking outdoor adventures on federally managed lands. After a busy year of bookings in 2019, the team had to adjust to changing customer needs in the spring of 2020 as travel plans changed amid the coronavirus.
Customers find many aspects of the Recreation.gov website and mobile app to be simple, engaging and interactive. The well-organized website, with eye-catching images and advanced digital features such as a trip builder tool, is designed to help users plan and reserve trips in ways comparable to popular commercial travel sites.
Still, customer feedback suggests ways the site could improve and make transactions easier. In 2019, half of Recreation.gov users surveyed indicated the website was not easy to use, partially due to popular campgrounds getting quickly booked up and challenges using the search engine. Because the Recreation.gov team members regularly reviewed feedback, they were alerted to the issues and could then add features to the search engine and clarify the availability of recreation sites online. To continue improving the customer experience around booking reservations—a high priority issue—the team plans to increase the accuracy of campground maps and the quality of the images of local recreation sites.
Data at a Glance
4.8 out of 5 stars: user rating of the Recreation.gov mobile app as of September 2020
of customers surveyed said it was easy to complete what they wanted to do on the site in fiscal 2019
From whitewater rafting on Idaho’s Salmon River to ranger-led tours at Kentucky’s Mammoth Cave National Park, Recreation.gov provides an entry point for the general public to access and explore scenic federal lands and national treasures. The site acts as a one-stop shop for more than 21 million online users each year who seek to research, plan or book a trip.
In 2019, the most common reasons customers visited the site were to reserve a campsite, research a future trip or purchase a ticket or tour.
Any individual or group interested in visiting federal lands, waterways or monuments across the country.
Key services provided to applicants (data for fiscal 2019 unless otherwise noted )
- Trip reservations
- 4.2 million transactions
(4.7 million transactions in fiscal 2018)1
- 3.9 million online reservations; 588,000 call center reservations; and 297,000 field location reservations.
- 4.2 million transactions
- Permits and tickets to high-demand events and activities, such as the White House Easter Egg Roll or a tour at the National Archives.
- 400,000 permit-related reservations
- Publication of online content on campsites and recreation activities, indexed for search, with editorial sections containing user ratings, reviews, and recommendations.
- 3,600 facilities and 103,000 individual recreation sites across the country identified.
- Trip planning tools and resources.
- Trip builder tool, which features interactive maps.