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Iconic sites are closing due to irresponsible social media users, and Veterans Day free park access 

click to enlarge Remote sites such as this on in Utah national park are now off-limits, the result of social media users failing to keep its location confidential. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Remote sites such as this on in Utah national park are now off-limits, the result of social media users failing to keep its location confidential.
As a landscape photographer, I've ventured far and wide to get the perfect scenic photograph. Years ago, before the advent of the internet and social media, I had to really work at finding the best locations to take my photos. I'd spend many hours looking at maps, digging through books or getting information from someone who had actually been where I wanted to go, if I was lucky.

Social media has changed all of that. We go someplace, take pictures and tell everyone where we were. Our cell phone pictures, by default, have GPS coordinates embedded into their data file, revealing the exact location where the photo was taken. This information is shared widely, and more and more people visit, sometimes to places that are "unimproved" or ecologically sensitive.

Now, places that were at the end of a trail off an unmarked dirt road, have been fenced and parking lots built to enable more and more people to visit. And some places are still somewhat remote but are also seeing increased numbers of visitors — and not all of them behave responsibly. Such is the case at an iconic photo location inside Canyonlands National Park, once a closely held secret by the National Park Service. The NPS use to offer up its location upon request, but the site has now been closed because irresponsible social media users published directions after being asked not to. Now no one can visit there and take pictures.

In an effort to bring about more responsible use of good photography locations, Leave No Trace, the Center for Outdoor Ethics, has created social media guidelines for outdoor users with the hope that people will help keep our lands as pristine as possible, and that they remain open for us to enjoy.

In other NPS news, entry fees at all NPS park sites will be waived for everyone on Veterans Day, Sunday, November 11th.

Colorado State Parks will waive entry fees on the 11th for all active duty, retired and military veterans as well, with ID or proof of service.

If you served but did not retire from military service, like myself, having easy-to-carry proof of service can be somewhat problematic since veterans were not provided with ID cards. But those who served can now get a Veterans ID card via this link.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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