New Styles for Park Tiles 3

Posted on 21 Mar 2016 by Taylor Long

The use of Park Tiles 3 is currently restricted to NPS employees.

Park Tiles 3 is starting to be used on approved park websites, and is now available to use in NPMap Builder and NPMap.js. In preparation for its official public release, we have developed three additional styles for PT3: Imagery, Slate, and the newly-designed Light. Each of these styles can be previewed in the Park Tiles 3 Beta viewer:

(NPS-only: must be on the NPS network to view.)

About Styles

Park Tiles 3 offers a suite of basemap styles to support a wider range of NPS maps. The default style for Park Tiles 3, Standard, serves as a general-use, reference basemap. However, maps built with a narrower purpose and audience may work better with alternate styles. If seeing everything on the ground is a priority, Imagery may be appropriate. If a data overlay needs to stand out, Slate or Light may provide more suitable contrast. More basemap styles means more flexibility. These styles are now available for use in NPMap Builder or through NPMap.js.

Park Tiles 3 Styles:

  • Standard
  • Imagery
  • Slate
  • Light


Standard is the default style for Park Tiles 3. Standard is designed to reflect the NPS graphic identity established by Harpers Ferry Center with muted colors but enough contrast and clarity to serve as a stand-alone reference map on a park website. A detailed style reference for the Standard style is a available here.

Park Tiles 3 Standard Preview


Imagery replaces the subtle tans and greens of Standard with vibrant satellite imagery provided by Mapbox. Imagery displays park labels, general place labels, and NPS road and trail labels inside park boundaries. NPS Places road and trail features are translucently styled inside parks to offer context where these features cannot be seen in the satellite imagery. Satellite imagery is visually busy, posing challenges for clearly overlaying other data. However, in appropriate contexts, it can be used to show real-world detail that does not appear on simpler basemaps.

Park Tiles 3 Imagery Preview


Slate offers a dark grey basemap that helps brightly colored overlay data stand out. Dark basemaps have become popular for displaying thematic data with a modern aesthetic, and Slate allows parks to join in on this trend. Fashion aside, Slate was also designed with low-vision viewers in mind (see original blog post). Users who invert colors in their browser for easier viewing will find that Slate remains more legible than other styles.

Park Tiles 3 Slate Preview


Light is a new addition to the NPMap suite of basemaps, designed to be extremely low contrast and nearly colorless – ideal for overlaying any kind of additional data. Light offers just enough context to present data that can almost stand on its own. Let us know what you think of the new Light style by emailing us at

Park Tiles 3 Light Preview

New styles underway

NPMap plans to develop a couple additional styles in the coming months: Backcountry and Historic. Stay tuned for more information about these new thematic styles later in 2016!

Submitting feedback

As always, we welcome feedback for Park Tiles 3 and its accompanying styles by clicking the Submit Feedback button in the Park Tiles 3 beta viewer (NPS-only). This will open an email compose window with a link to the current map view embedded in the body of the email. Please leave this link and add a detailed description of your feedback at the top of the email body. Also feel free to take a screenshot and mark it up to add more context.

We hope you enjoy these updates and look forward to your continued help in making Park Tiles a useful tool for parks.

Update to Park Tiles 3 Beta

Posted on 19 Feb 2016 by Taylor Long

**Update**: This post was edited on 3/15/2016 to reflect minor changes in the styling of unpaved and 4wd roads. The Park Tiles 3 beta is still an internal release, viewable only by NPS employees, partners, and contractors.

We are pleased to announce an update to the beta version of Park Tiles 3. Based on constructive feedback we received about the initial internal release in November (see post), we have implemented a first round of changes to better meet the needs of parks and regions. Changes include a new solution for more points of interest and minor display updates to roads, buildings, railroads, and places names.

You can review the updated version of Park Tiles 3 at the same link as before and read below for more details.

(NPS-only: must be on the NPS network to view.)

More points of interest

The biggest change to Park Tiles 3 beta is a totally new way of handling points of interest (POIs). After November’s release, we received a lot of feedback from parks that the thirteen major POI types displayed on the basemap were simply not enough. We agreed that parks should be able to display more types, but adding too many types directly into the basemap posed technical and aesthetic problems. We decided that the best way to support more POI types was to separate POIs from the basemap altogether.

Separating POIs from the basemap means we can treat them as a separate overlay layer. As such, we can customize the display of POIs without changing the underlying basemap. This solution offers much more flexibility and paves the way for allowing parks to customize the display of POIs for specific mapping applications. Most importantly, it allows us to display all the POI types a park includes in NPS Places (Places).

In the Park Tiles 3 beta viewer (NPS-only), you’ll see the new POI overlay in use. As before, major POI types begin to appear at smaller zoom levels. By zoom level 16, all POI types display. POIs that correspond to existing symbols in the NPMap Symbol Library display as a teardrop marker with the symbol inside. POIs with no corresponding symbol in our library display as a small black dot. All POI types are clickable, revealing a popup window that displays the POI name and type.

Learn more about the specifics of our POI overlay default settings in our POI overlay documentation.

Feature display updates

This update of Park Tiles 3 beta also includes a handful of more subtle changes to the styling of certain features from Places.

Unpaved roads

Unpaved roads are now styled differently than paved roads. In Places, information about road surface may be be added through the surface tag. Roads with no surface tag are styled normally according to their classification, but roads with the tag surface=unpaved are styled with an off-white fill.

Private roads and buildings

In most cases, we encourage parks to include roads and buildings that are NPS-only or private (no public access) since visitors will see these features in satellite imagery and in person. By displaying these features, but styling them so that their access restrictions are clear, we can offer more helpful information than if we don’t display them at all.

Access information can be encoded into roads and buildings through the access tag. Roads and buildings with no access tag are assumed to be public. Roads and buildings with a tag of access=private are styled with no outline and 70% transparent fill so they recede into the basemap background. Roads with access=private also carry a label of “No Public Access” to reinforce their status.


Lines categorized as ‘railroad’ in Places will now appear as railroads in Park Tiles 3. Prior to this update, we displayed railroads from the underlying OpenStreetMap data. Now, to see railroads in your park, they must be in Places. Railroads are styled in a typical manner as a simple grey line with evenly-spaced hash marks.

Place names

Place names added as POIs in Places will now display as labels in Park Tiles 3. Prior to this update, some place names from OpenStreetMap still displayed inside park boundaries. Now, no place names from OSM will display in parks – instead, place names can be added in Places as POIs. This gives parks full control over the name and location of important localities within their boundaries. The following POI types will be labeled in the basemap:

  • Locale
  • Junction
  • Populated Place
  • Historic District
  • Cultural Landscape

Other minor tweaks to resolve issues for specific parks can be found in our list of GitHub issues associated with this 3.0.1 release. You can dive into all the details of ongoing Park Tiles 3 development by following along on GitHub. To learn more about how Places features are styled in Park Tiles, check out the Park Tiles 3 style reference.

Submitting feedback

As before, we welcome you to submit feedback for Park Tiles 3 by clicking the Submit Feedback button in the Park Tiles 3 beta viewer (NPS-only). This will open an email compose window with a link to the current map view embedded in the body of the email. Please leave this link and add a detailed description of your feedback at the top of the email body. Also feel free to take a screenshot and mark it up to add more context.

We hope you enjoy these updates and look forward to your continued help in making the Park Tiles basemap a useful tool for parks.

Park Tiles 3 Beta Release

Posted on 23 Nov 2015 by Taylor Long

Park Tiles 3 Beta is an internal release, viewable only by NPS employees, partners, and contractors.

We are pleased to release Park Tiles 3 Beta for internal review! Many parks have submitted data as part of the recently completed data call memo. This beta release includes data submitted as part of that data call, in addition to other style updates we’ve made to Park Tiles. We encourage parks to review how their NPS Places data appears in the new basemap and submit initial feedback by the end of January 2016. After this initial period of review, Park Tiles 3 will be made available for use on public-facing maps.

About Park Tiles 3

Park Tiles is a suite of online basemaps designed to fit the National Park Service’s graphic identity. The currently available version of Park Tiles, 2.1, displays crowd-sourced data from OpenStreetMap and overlays points of interest from the NPS Places database. With the release of Park Tiles 3, our basemaps will now feature only NPS Places data within park boundaries. This means that for the first time parks can maintain all their own Park Tiles basemap data for roads, trails, buildings, parking lots, and other points of interest. Instructions are provided below on how Parks and Regions can manage data NPS Places. Click the button below to open the Park Tiles 3 Beta viewer (NPS-only: must be on the NPS network to view).

Park Tiles 3 release plan

This beta release of Park Tiles 3 allows parks to see how their NPS Places data looks on the new basemap before the basemap becomes available for use on public-facing sites. Parks have until the end of January 2016 to submit feedback. Additionally, please work with your colleagues in national programs such as transportation, cultural resources and facilities to ensure features are properly displayed and labelled. After the review, NPMap will release Park Tiles 3 in February 2016.

Keep in mind that adding and updating NPS Places data is an iterative process, and no park will be forced to use Park Tiles 3. On new sites, parks will have the option to show Park Tiles 3 or a zoomable version of their print brochure map. The February public release simply means that Park Tiles 3 will made available for use in NPMap Builder and NPMap.js.

NPS Places data in Park Tiles 3

Data management workflows

The NPS Places database was designed to store general reference map data appropriate for display on public-facing digital maps. NPMap is working to support two different workflows to maintaining this data:

  1. NPS Places workflow: In the Places workflow, parks can edit their own data directly in the NPS Places Editor. Updates made in the editor will go live in Park Tiles 3 within 24-48 hours. This workflow is currently operational.
  2. GIS workflow: For parks managing their data in a GIS, an alternate workflow that pulls data directly from the GIS can be put in place. NPS Places Editor will be locked for parks using this workflow (no features within the parks will be editable). NPS Places data will be synced directly from existing GIS databases so edits can be made directly in the GIS. The GIS workflow is currently planned for parks in the Alaska region and most parks in the Intermountain region. We are still developing and testing this workflow with these two regions. If you have any questions, concerns, or feedback about this workflow, feel free to contact us or your regional GIS Coordinator.

You can also read more about these two workflows in our support doc.

What you'll see in Park Tiles 3

Park Tiles includes most but not all features entered in the NPS Places Editor. Park Tiles is meant to serve as a simple basemap that shows the most important general reference data for all parks. As such, Park Tiles 3 has been styled to highlight an essential subset of five data themes within park boundaries:

  1. Roads
  2. Trails
  3. Buildings
  4. Parking Lots
  5. Points of Interest
    • Visitor Centers
    • Ranger Stations
    • Information
    • Lodging
    • Campgrounds
    • Campsites
    • Shelter
    • Picnic Areas
    • Stores
    • Food Service
    • Parking
    • Trailheads
    • Restrooms

How are features styled in Park Tiles 3?

To learn more about how NPS Places features are styled in Park Tiles, check out the Park Tiles 3 Style Reference.

How long does it take for edits to show in Park Tiles?

Edits made in the NPS Places Editor may take 24-48 hours to appear in the Park Tiles basemaps. If you’re still not seeing changes after this amount of time, it may help to clear your browser’s cache since some of the older tiled map images may have been saved and stored for efficiency. The data you see in the NPS Places Editor will always be the most up-to-date – if you’re curious about a feature in park tiles, it’s best to find the feature in the editor to learn more.

Why can't I see the data I sent to NPMap for the data call?

As part of the Places Data Call, we invited parks to add data directly in the NPS Places Editor OR send us GIS data so we could add it for them in bulk (we call this “data seeding”). For some parks, data seeding is still in progress, but should be completed shortly (see open github issues). Some regional GIS offices have requested special workflows we are still working to accommodate. If you don’t see the data you sent us, feel free to contact us for a progress update.

How should I handle data outside my park boundary?

As mentioned above, Park Tiles 3 shows NPS Places data inside park boundaries and OpenStreetMap data outside park boundaries. As such, the transition between roads outside and inside park boundaries is not seamless - roads inside parks are intentionally styled to stand out. We are researching ways to make this transition appear more seamless and these updates will be integrated into Park Tiles 3 on an ongoing basis. Parks that have features outside of park boundaries can still include these features in NPS Places and they will be rendered on top of OpenStreetMap data. For advice resolving specific issues, contact us at

Submitting feedback

As a beta release, Park Tiles 3 is meant to evolve in response to feedback from parks. Because this is the first time parks will see their NPS Places data in Park Tiles, we anticipate changes to the data (which can be made through the NPS Places Editor (NPS-only)) and requests for bug fixes and style modifications to Park Tiles 3 itself.

Parks may submit feedback by clicking the Submit Feedback button in the Park Tiles 3 Beta viewer (NPS-only). This will open an email compose window with a link to the current map view embedded in the body of the email. Please leave this link and add a detailed description of your feedback at the top of the email body. Also feel free to take a screenshot and mark it up to add more context.

We hope you enjoy Park Tiles 3 Beta, and we look forward to your feedback!

Virgin Islands Marine Visitor Use Map

Posted on 13 Oct 2015 by Jeremy Cantor

This is a guest post from Jeremy Cantor, a Colorado State University Research Associate who works with the National Park Service's Ocean & Coastal Resources Branch. In this post, Jeremy gives an overview of a map he built using the NPMap toolset.


Virgin Islands National Park and Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument are two National Park Service-managed units found both on the terrestrial lands of St. John, US Virgin Islands and in its offshore waters and coral reefs. The coral reefs are under attack from natural causes such as coral disease, coral bleaching, and sedimentation as well as from man-made impacts caused by visitors to the park. While it may be difficult to slow down naturally caused damage, there is plenty that can be done to prevent man-made destruction of the reef. In order for park managers to better protect their fundamental resources, they requested assistance in building a tool that provided marine use information to visitors that could be accessed from multiple devices.


We needed the map to be lightweight, be accessible on all devices, not require any browser extension or app downloads, allow custom symbology, and include popups, legend, and table of contents elements. We used several NPMap tools to develop a map that met all of these needs. The NPMap Builder was used to build the basic functionality and style of the map. In order to add further functionality to the original map, we used NPMap.js, a web mapping library built specifically for use by the National Park Service.

The map being designed in NPMap Builder.

Map Design

The map has two buttons for zooming in and out. A user can also use the scroll wheel on their desktop mouse or a two-fingered pinch for touch screens to zoom in and out. There is a home button that, when clicked, will take a user back to the initial extent of the map. The table of contents and legend have been combined into one element in order to avoid having too much clutter. When a user clicks on a feature, a text popup is shown providing information on things such as regulations on use of boat moorings, how much it costs to use an overnight anchor, or a description of popular snorkeling areas.

A screenshot of the final product.

Three different basemaps can be switched on. The default basemap is set to the ESRI Imagery service. For the Virgin Islands, this imagery provided the most cloud-free and highest resolution imagery available. A user can also switch to the Park Tiles Imagery basemap which uses Mapbox imagery with some customized NPS labelling. Or a user can switch to the Park Tiles basemap which maintains the NPS graphic identity found in paper visitor maps.

A very useful feature is the full-screen mode, found in the upper-right corner of the map. When clicked, the map will expand to fit the entire screen of a user’s device. This functionality makes the map feel more like an app and is very useful if a user is on a device, such as a smartphone, that has a smaller screen.

The last feature adds some very useful functionality to the map. When a user clicks on the Locate button, the map will display his/her location using a small blue dot. This functionality will make it very easy for park visitors to figure out where they are, understand park regulations, and help protect and preserve our critical natural resources.

To see the map for yourself, visit Virgin Island National Park’s website. For more information, you can view the webinar on Vimeo or send me an email.

Introducing Our New Map Symbols

Posted on 08 Oct 2015 by Jake Coolidge

This week, version 2.0 of the NPMap Symbol Library goes live. One feature of this release is improved documentation on the tool’s landing page, so be sure to take a look. For this post, I’ll spotlight the new symbols included in this release that we look forward to using in our various tools. A couple are wholly original designs, like entrance station and food cache, while most adapt widely adopted iconographies to fit the look and feel of our existing symbols, like automated external defibrillator (AED) and flagpole.

  • aed


  • entrance station


  • entrance station

    Entrance Station

  • flagpole


  • food cache

    Food Cache

  • laundry


  • railroad crossing

    Railroad Crossing

  • spring


  • statue


When designing a symbol, we always start by consulting the symbol sets developed by the Harpers Ferry Center. If HFC hasn’t yet developed a symbol that we need, we move on to the internet, where a wealth of material at the Noun Project and Mapbox Maki, among many others, help kickstart the brainstorming process.

Taking the example of the entrance station symbol, we didn’t find symbols on the web that suggested possible solutions, so we consulted images of entrance stations around the NPS. Not surprisingly, entrance stations vary widely from park to park. An early concept used the iconic Roosevelt Arch at the north entrance of Yellowstone National Park, but we ultimately opted for something that indicated entrance station in a more general way. The result is a small guard station and sign flanking an entry, and despite the number of features integrated into the design, it scales down the smallest size relatively gracefully.

  • entrance station


  • entrance station


  • entrance station


  • entrance station


If you’re in Minneapolis next month for the NACIS annual meeting, I’ll be discussing our work designing web map symbols for the NPS. Find more details here. I hope to see you there!

You can access these and all other symbols in the library at our Github repository. SVG and PNG versions are available.