Pristine Yellowstone is low-tech, but not no tech

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – Okay, a big reason so many people enjoy a visit to Yellowstone National Park is because it harkens back to a more untamed time when the American West teemed with wildlife and unspoiled natural beauty.

Yellowstone is a place to leave behind high-tech gadgets and reconnect with nature but that doesn’t mean the nation’s oldest park is ignorant of technology altogether. In fact, it might surprise you to learn Yellowstone is home to about 800 computers, 75 servers, 200 routers/switches, and 60 terabytes of data.

And no, none of the software is used to program the regular timing of Old Faithful eruptions or schedule grizzly bear appearances.

A team of five IT personnel keeps the whole shebang, known as computer support services (CSS), up and running for tasks like linking the more remote areas of the park to each other, internally, as well as allowing for millions of visitors to use their communications devices to connect with the world via email, web, and social media.

“Communication in a park this big is vital. The majority of our employees use a computer and our network every day. That means when things aren’t working, everyone notices,” said IT supervisor Roger Whiteside.

Communication is vital in today’s world, even when you are on vacation trying to avoid some of it. Public safety, for instance, relies heavily on computer networks and lines of communication.

And a little bit of technology goes a long way in Yellowstone. Take, for instance, the NPS Yellowstone App. The app is free and available on the App Store and on Google Play.

The app is a great way to enhance any visit to Yellowstone Park authorities recently announced the release of two new, self-guided audio tours. Find them under the “Tours” tile on the app home screen.

The Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin tours explore some of the park’s most amazing hydrothermal wonders, guiding the user to 25 stops along a 4.5 mile (7.2 mile) tour.

The Fountain Paint Pot tour offers a chance to learn more about the four main types of hydrothermal features at 8 stops along a 0.6 mile (1 km) self-guided tour.

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