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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Wired Camping

Air Date: Week of

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You’ve heard of Internet cafes, but what about Internet campgrounds? Officials at Colorado State Parks recently announced that, along with scenic vistas and hiking trails, state campsites will offer Internet access. Host Pippin Ross talks with Lyle Laverty, director of Colorado State Parks.


ROSS: You heard of campers who just can't leave the comforts of home, home. They bring along their espresso machines, hand-cranked blenders, and heated mattress pads to the great outdoors. Now, there's one more thing they won't have to do without, at least in Colorado. State Park officials there recently announced that scenic campgrounds in that state will be outfitted with internet access. Lyle Laverty is director of Colorado State Parks, and he joins me to talk about wired camping. Hello.

LAVERTY: Hello, Pippin.

ROSS: Now, listen, no pun intended, but this is a wild idea. How is this going to work? What do you do, plug your modem into a tree or something?

LAVERTY: [laughter] Actually, it would be kind of like if you checked into the hotel room you've got an internet cable that comes right up to your rooms, and we would have a cable internet site that would come right up to your trailer, your RV, or whatever it happened to be.

ROSS: So lots of long cords running across the pine needles?

LAVERTY: Well, hopefully not too many. We're going to have those fairly close, so it's convenient for you.

ROSS: You know, Lyle, doesn't this really go against the whole idea of roughing it?

LAVERTY: Well, we serve a variety of different people that come to Colorado State Parks. And we have a lot of people that travel up and down I-25 traveling north to south, and those folks drive in a lot of RVs, grandparents, and they want to send pictures that they take on their digital camera to their grandkids and kids and say, here's where we've been. So it's not like it's one size fits every park, because we do have a lot of parks that are truly in that more rustic experience, and I don't think we're going to have those up there at this point in time.

ROSS: Give me another example of how the internet could enhance the nature experience?

LAVERTY: I believe that when people come into a park, because so many people are accustomed to doing business online, people can begin to make reservations for restaurants, you know, if there's even shows in town, you can get up and do that. And one of the things we want to try to encourage folks to do is to build that quality experience. And if we can get people to stay that one more day in the campground, then it’s good for Colorado business, it's great for Colorado economy, and it just enhances that. And even skiing, you know, you can get enough runs down the slopes in the morning, and you want to go do something else in the afternoon. So I think the web and the access can help people figure out, hey, these are some additional things that we can do to just have a great experience when we come to Colorado.

ROSS: Well, Lyle, I guess this certainly gives a whole new meaning to booting up.

LAVERTY: [laughter] And we hope that people can put on both boots when they come out to Colorado State Park and just have a great time.

ROSS: Lyle Laverty is director of Colorado State Parks. Thanks for speaking with me today.

LAVERTY: You're welcome, Pippin.



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