Places Tracing Guide

National Park Service

About Places

Places is an internal data collection system for the National Park Service's "core" geospatial data. We built Places so that all National Park Service employees, both technical and non-technical, can contribute their knowledge to the map.

Data from Places is fed directly into both Park Tiles and the larger National Park Service "Structured Data" initiative, which will be used to drive NPS.gov and a publicly-available application programming interface (API) in 2016.

The Places database currently contains the following datasets, a near real-time copy of each can be downloaded from the Places landing page (NPS-only):

  • Points of Interest
  • Buildings
  • Roads
  • Trails
  • Parking

These datasets were initially seeded from existing park, region, and program-level GIS datasets, but now anyone who is connected to the National Park Service network can edit them using the Places Editor (NPS-only). If you have more/better data available and you'd like to get it into Places, send us an email or create an issue on GitHub and we will be happy to assist with the upload.

The Places Editor is built on top of OpenStreetMap's iD editor. Check out learnOSM's iD editor walkthrough to familiarize yourself with the interface, or watch our quickstart video on the Places landing page (NPS-only). It is intentionally simple, developed with a non-technical audience in mind.

Disclaimers:

  • All data contributed to Places is intended for public use. Do not add any sensitive information unfit for public consumption.
  • Because Places utilizes the OpenStreetMap tagging scheme internally, you may see references and links to OpenStreetMap documentation below. Rest assured that edits made in the Places Editor, however, go directly into the internal National Park Service Places database and not into the OpenStreetMap database.

Start Mapping Now!

(NPS-only)

Points of Interest

Point feature

Description
A point of interest or "POI" is represented by a point or "node" on the map and has geographic coordinates (latitude and longitude). A POI can be a standalone node or it can be part of a "way" (an ordered list of nodes representing a linear feature or area).
How to Map
Add a point of interest using the "Point" tool to create a point on the map and select the appropriate preset from the "Select feature type" menu.
POI Types
Places supports a wide variety of POIs, a full list of which can be found in our preset spreadsheet (NPS-only). This guide is intended to serve as a "starter kit" for contributing to Places and is intentionally not comprehensive, including only the basic and most common POI types. Don't see the feature you're looking for? Send us an email or open an issue on GitHub.

The following are the priority POI types for the NPS.gov Centennial redesign, which will drive individual park pages on the new site:

  • Visitor Centers
  • Entrance Stations
  • Campgrounds
  • Trailheads

Visitor Center Entrance Station Campground Locale Trailhead Ranger Station Restroom Headquarters Information Campsite Picnic Area Lodge Lodging Store Food Service Litter Receptacle Telephone Potable Water Gas Station Boat Launch Populated Place


Visitor Center

Description
A visitor center is a building housing information for visitors, typically including some or all of the following: information resources, facilities (e.g. restrooms, drinking water), ranger staff, and exhibits.
How to Map
Add a visitor center by creating a point on top of the associated building and selecting "Visitor Center" from the "Select feature type" menu. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Entrance Station

Description
An entrance station is an official entry point into a park.
How to Map
Add an entrance station by creating a point on top of the entrance and selecting "Entrance Station" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Campground

Description
A campground is an area, usually divided into a number of pitches (or "campsites"), intended for overnight tent camping.
How to Map
Add a campground by creating a point in the middle of the area and selecting "Campground" from the "Select feature type" menu. If the campground is intended for Recreation Vehicles (RVs), use the "RV Campground" preset instead.

Locale

Description
A locale is a named area that is not a city, town, or neighborhood. For example, a park district.
How to Map
Add a locale by creating a point in the middle of the associated area and selecting "Locale" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Trailhead

Description
A trailhead is the official point at which a trail begins, often accompanied by trail information and public facilities.
How to Map
Add a trailhead by creating a point at the start of the trail and selecting "Trailhead" from the "Select feature type" menu:
Approved Uses
If the trail is intended for specific uses, add the appropriate "Approved Use" using the "Approved Uses" form in the "Edit feature" menu:

Ranger Station

Description
A ranger station is a building or facility primarily intended to house park law enforcement and rescue staff, and is typically not open to the public. It can also be as simple as a ranger sitting at a campground kiosk. Ranger stations can be seasonal, and they are commonly confused with visitor centers as both can be located in the same building.
How to Map
Add a ranger station by creating a point on top of the associated building and selecting "Ranger Station" from the "Select feature type" menu. In the event the station is co-located with a visitor center, create two coincident points - one for the ranger station and another for the VC. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Restroom

Description
A restroom is a restroom facility or "toilet" open to the public.
How to Map
Add a restroom by creating a point on top of the associated building and selecting "Restroom" from the "Select feature type" menu. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Headquarters

Description
Headquarters is a park's official headquarters.
How to Map
Add headquarters by creating a point on top of the associated building and selecting "Headquarters" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Building" category folder. In the event the office is co-located with a visitor center, create two coincident points - one for the headquarters and another for the VC. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Information

Description
Information is an information source for visitors, typically an informational board. This is the default and most basic information-related tag, which can be added in more specific forms such as an "Information Board" or "Information Map", among others.
How to Map
Add information by creating a point on top of the amenity and selecting "Information" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Information" category folder:

Campsite

Description
A campsite is an individual pitch within a campground intended for overnight camping using tents, RVs, etc.
How to Map
Add a campsite by creating a point in the middle of the pitch and selecting "Campsite" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Land Recreation" category folder:

Picnic Area

Description
A picnic area is an area that is suitable for outdoors eating and may have a number of other public facilities such as tables, benches, restrooms, grills, water taps, covered pavilions, etc. Or, it may just be a grassy area intended for picnics.
How to Map
Add a picnic area by creating a point in the middle of the area and selecting "Picnic Area" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Land Recreation" category folder:

Lodge

Description
A lodge is a remote building intended to provide seasonal shelter, usually for specific uses. Common examples include commercial fishing, hunting, and wilderness lodges.
How to Map
Add a lodge by creating a point on top of the associated building and selecting "Lodge" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Building" category folder. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Lodging

Description
Lodging is an establishment providing overnight room and board, typically on a short-term basis, along with other guest services. Common examples include hotels and public cabins.
How to Map
Add lodging by creating a point on top of the associated building and selecting "Lodging" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Building" category folder. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Store

Description
A store is a general store, typically selling food and other general supplies.
How to Map
Add a store by creating a point on top of the associated building and selecting "Store" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Service" category folder. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Food Service

Description
Food service is typically an indoor area within a facility that houses food vendors and provides dining space. Common examples include food courts and snack bars.
How to Map
Add food service by creating a point on top of the associated building and selecting "Food Service" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Service" category folder. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Litter Receptacle

Description
A litter receptacle is a container for depositing garbage that is accesible to pedestrians. Also known as a trash can, garbage can, waste basket, rubbish bin, or litter bin.
How to Map
Add a litter receptacle by creating a point on top of the container and selecting "Litter Receptacle" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Service" category folder:

Telephone

Description
A telephone is a phone available for public use, typically a pay phone on a stand or wall. It may be indoors or outdoors.
How to Map
Add a telephone by creating a point on top of the telephone and selecting "Telephone" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Service" category folder. Where several telephones are arranged side by side, arrange several similar points side by side.

Potable Water

Description
Potable water is a location at which potable water is available for consumption. Common examples include water fountains and bottle filling stations.
How to Map
Add potable water by creating a point on top of the amenity and selecting "Potable Water" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Service" category folder:

Gas Station

Description
A gas station is a facility where vehicles can be refueled.
How to Map
Add a gas station by creating a point on top of it and selecting "Gas Station" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Service" category folder. If the gas station includes a building housing a store, see the store section above to learn how to add it. Additionally, trace the building footprint if it has not been added (see the buildings section to learn more about tracing building footprints).

Boat Launch

Description
A boat launch is a ramp into the water used to launch a boat, also referred to as a slipway, boat ramp, or boat landing.
How to Map
Add a boat launch by creating a point in the middle of the ramp and selecting "Boat Launch" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Water Recreation" category folder.
Approved Water Uses
If the boat launch is intended for specific uses, add the appropriate "Approved Use" using the "Approved Water Uses" form in the "Edit feature" menu. Use "Canoe" for non-motorized watercraft and "Motorboat" for motorized watercraft. Learn more about water trails in the trail section here.

Populated Place

Description
A populated place is a city, town, neighborhood, or otherwise named populated area.
How to Map
Add a populated place by creating a point in the middle of the associated area and selecting "Populated Place" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Buildings

Area feature

Description
Buildings in Places are intentionally simple. We are primarily concerned with building footprints, while any additional building amenities are added as points of interest on top of the footprint (see the points of interest section to learn more).
How to Map
Add a building footprint by using the "Area" tool to trace the building footprint and select "Building" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Additionally, if you know the location of the building's entrance or exit you can add it as a vertex on the building footprint polygon. Add a building entrance/exit by creating a point at the appropriate location and selecting "Entrance/Exit" from the "Select feature type" menu.

Roads

Line feature

Description
A road is a way intended primarily for passage of motorized vehicles.
How to Map
Add a road by using the "Line" tool to trace its centerline from beginning to end and selecting the appropriate preset from the "Select feature type" menu. If a road's classification is unknown, default to the "Unknown Road" preset.
Road Types/Attributes
Places supports a variety of road classifications, outlined below. Basic road structures, attributes, and topology best practices are also outlined here.

Unknown Road Highway Primary Road Secondary Road Minor Road Residential Road Access Road Private Road Bridge Tunnel Crosswalk Intersections Surface One Way Lanes Speed Limit


Unknown Road

Description
An unknown road is a road whose classification is unknown. Default to this preset when heads-up-digitizing without the necessary context to determine a road's classification.
How to Map
Add an unknown road by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Unknown Road" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Highway

Description
A highway is a major highway, typically with at least two lanes separated by a centerline.
How to Map
Add a highway by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Highway" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Primary Road

Description
A primary road is a major road, typically with at least two lanes separated by a centerline, forming a primary artery of the park and surrounding road network.
How to Map
Add a primary road by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Primary Road" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Secondary Road

Description
A secondary road is a road that is not a segment of a major route but forms a link in the park and surrounding major road network. It typically has two lanes, separated by a centerline.
How to Map
Add a secondary road by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Secondary Road" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Minor Road

Description
A minor road is a minor public road, typically at the lowest level of the interconnecting network. It is of lower importance than a secondary road and is not a residential street.
How to Map
Add a minor road by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Minor Road" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Residential Road

Description
A residential road is a road strictly intended for access within a residential area (community or neighborhood).
How to Map
Add a residential road by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Residential Road" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Access Road

Description
An access road is a road accessing a service such as a parking lot, business park, service station, beach, campsite, etc.
How to Map
Add an access road by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Access Road" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Private Road

Description
A private road is the equivalent to what is commonly referred to as a "maintenance road" in the Park Service, with access limited to official NPS personnel and closed to the public.
How to Map
Add a private road by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Private Road" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Bridge

Description
A bridge is a structure used to carry a road, railway, or similar feature over another feature.
How to Map
Add a bridge by splitting the upper way at each end of the bridge (where it joins solid ground) and selecting "Bridge" from the "Structure" form in the "Edit feature" menu. Remember to maintain the road or trail's existing classification.

Tunnel

Description
A tunnel is an underground or underwater passageway enclosed except for its entrance and exit at each end.
How to Map
Add a tunnel by splitting the enclosed section of the way and selecting "Tunnel" from the "Structure" form in the "Edit feature" menu. Remember to maintain the road or trail's existing classification.

Crosswalk

Description
A crosswalk is a path across an intersection of multiple ways (roads and/or trails) marked off for pedestrian crossing.
How to Map
Add a crosswalk by using the "Structure" form in the "Edit feature" menu to add the associated way as a "Crosswalk". Remember to maintain the road or trail's existing classification.

Intersections

Description
An intersection occurs where two or more ways (roads or trails) meet.
How to Map
To create a simple intersection between two ways, remember to connect them with a node at the point of intersection. If one way is above another without forming a bridge or tunnel, such as a road interchange, do not connect the ways.

Surface

Description
Surface describes the physical surface of a feature (in this case, a road or trail).
How to Map
Add a road's surface by selecting the associated way and choosing the appropriate surface type from the "Surface" form in the "Edit feature" menu:

One Way

Description
One way indicates one way access restriction on roads.
How to Map
Add one way access by selecting the associated way and clicking "Assumed to be No" in the "One Way" form of the "Edit feature" menu, which will change to "Yes" after selection. Note that ways have a directionality, so the direction in which you map the way determines its directionality. However, you can change the {"oneway":"yes"} tag to {"oneway":"-1"} in the "All tags" table of the "Edit feature" menu to reverse its existing directionality (appropriate when a way's directionality already governs another attribute such as a bus route).

Lanes

Description
Lanes indicate the number of traffic lanes on a highway that are available to motorized traffic (bicycle lanes are therefore excluded).
How to Map
Add the number of lanes a road has by selecting the associated way and entering the appropriate number into the "Lanes" form of the "Edit feature" menu:

Speed Limit

Description
Speed limit indicates the maximum legal speed limit for general traffic on a road.
How to Map
Add a road's speed limit by selecting the associated way and entering the appropriate number into the "Speed Limit" form of the "Edit feature" menu, along with the appropriate unit of measure (mph is the default).

Trails

Line feature

Description
A trail is a way intended primarily for recreational use such as hiking, biking, horseback riding, skiing, etc.
How to Map
Add a trail by using the "Line" tool to trace its centerline from beginning to end and selecting the appropriate preset from the "Select feature type" menu. If a trail's classification is unknown, default to the "Trail" preset. Remember to add a trailhead to the start of each trail, given an official trailhead is present, along with the associated approved uses.
Trail Types
Trails generally fall under two "categories": "Trail" and "Motorized Trail", while specific uses (e.g. biking, horseback riding, downhill skiing, etc) define more specific presets. "Steps" are also included here.

Trails are a priority feature type for the NPS.gov Centennial redesign and will drive a "Trails" page for every park.

Trail Motorized Trail Sidewalk Pedestrian Path Steps


Trail

Description
A trail is intended for non-motorized traffic including pedestrian use ("foot traffic"), biking, or horseback riding.
How to Map
Add a trail by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Trail" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Trail" category folder:
Approved Uses
If the trail is intended for specific uses, add them using the "Approved Uses" form in the "Edit feature" menu:

Motorized Trail

Description
A motorized trail is permissive to motorized traffic, such as all-terrain and four-wheel drive vehicles, motorcycles, and snowmobiles. It can be permissive to non-motorized traffic as well, but it must be permissive to motorized traffic to warrant this classification.
How to Map
Add a motorized trail by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Motorized Trail" from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Trail" category folder:
Approved Uses
If the trail is intended for specific uses, add the appropriate "Approved Use" using the "Approved Uses" form in the "Edit feature" menu:

Sidewalk

Description
A sidewalk is a way adjacent to a road dedicated for pedestrian use, usually separated from the road by a curb.
How to Map
Add a sidewalk by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting the "Sidewalk" preset from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Trail" category folder:

Pedestrian Path

Description
A pedestrian path is a walkway intended for pedestrian use ("foot traffic"). It is not intended for hiking (like a "Trail") nor is it adjacent to a road (like a "Sidewalk"). The walkways covering Governors Island are a good example.
How to Map
Add a pedestrian path by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting the "Pedestrian Path" preset from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Trail" category folder:

Steps

Description
Steps are a flight of steps along a way intended for pedestrian use.
How to Map
Add steps by tracing their centerline from beginning to end and selecting the "Steps" preset from the "Select feature type" menu within the "Trail" category folder:

Parking

Area, Point, and Line feature

Description
Parking takes two primary forms in Places: parking lots and parking aisles.
How to Map
Add parking by using the "Area," "Point," and/or "Line" tool, depending on the feature type (described below).
Parking Types
Places supports the following parking types:

Parking Lot Parking Aisle


Parking Lot

Description
A parking lot is a facility available for use by the public, customers, or other authorized users for the parking of motor vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, etc). This can come in various forms, including a standalone parking lot or garage, among others.
How to Map
Adding a parking lot is generally a two-step process. First, trace the area footprint and select "Parking" from the "Select feature type" menu:

Next, create a point in the center of the area and select "Parking" from the "Select feature type" menu to add it as a POI. If electric vehicle parking is available, create another point in the center of the area and select "Electric Vehicle Parking" from the "Select feature type" menu as another POI. If the parking area is undefined simply add the point(s) without defining an area.


Parking Aisle

Description
A parking aisle is a subordinated way in a parking lot between rows of parking spaces that vehicles use to drive into and out of the spaces.
How to Map
Add a parking aisle by tracing its centerline from beginning to end and selecting "Parking Aisle" from the "Select feature type" menu. The main way(s) in the parking lot, for entering and connecting multiple parking aisles, should be tagged as access roads.