Interpretation & Education

Person standing in front of a marsh who is looking at a wayside panel that contains text and graphics.
Wayside exhibits provide information about a specific feature on a landscape and help visitors make connections to a site.

NPS Photo

The interpretation team provides assistance to a wide range of trail partners. We develop interpretive media, personal services, planning, and education services for nine national historic trails and the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.

Why Use Interpretation?

Interpretation translates the meanings of a place through media or personal services to help visitors understand and relate to a site or story. Interpretation helps build intellectual and emotional connections between visitors and resources, encouraging them to care about and connect to a site.

Technical Assistance Provided

Interpretive Planning

  • Developing the best types of visitor services for your site
  • Strategies for responding to visitor requests for media and information
  • Analyzing your audience and reaching out to diverse groups
  • Strategic planning for visitor experiences as a part of trail development
  • Incorporating interpretation into your organization's planning documents
  • Providing an interpretive planning, design, and project management package
  • Incorporating digital media into your planning and products

Providing Opportunities for Visitor Use and Enjoyment

  • Creating and providing a range of media including: websites, publications, wayside exhibits, videos, educational activities, and smartphone mobile applications
  • Participating in the Passport to Your National Parks program
  • Enhancing trip planning and map features on websites and mobile applications
  • Harnessing new technologies to tell your stories in new ways
  • Meeting ADA requirements and utilizing the best practices of universal design
  • Engaging the public through social media
  • Using digital technology to improve access to trails and stories
  • Developing innovative techniques for sharing your story

Capacity-building: Developing Interpretation for Trail Sites

  • Sustainability, record keeping, and maintenance of interpretive media and services
  • Tips for special events and public relations
  • Building connections and working with local communities to share your story
  • Understanding the principles of interpretive writing
  • Writing themes, goals, and objectives
  • Training in interpretive skills
  • Choosing appropriate interpretive media
  • Incorporating multiple interpretive media types
  • Preparing for projects with traditional, digital, and accessible components

Last updated: December 1, 2023