How a Popular Mobile Game Is Putting National Parks In The Spotlight

Image source: nps.gov
Image source: nps.gov

Players of hit mobile game Pokémon Go search far and wide to catch Jigglypuff, Bulbasaur, Squirtle, Ekans, Oddish, and other kinds of Pokémon. And the game, in fact, gave people who do not usually visit national parks a new reason to do so.

Recently, hundreds of players suddenly flocked to the National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington to play the game and catch all sorts of Pokémon. Although information officers from Olympic National Park and Acadia National Park have not yet reported people going to their parks to play since Wi-Fi is unavailable in the area, there are other visitors’ centers which have Wi-Fi and work as Pokégyms.

Image source: visitmysmokies.com
Image source: visitmysmokies.com

Players reported catching Pokémon near Glacier’s Apgar Visitor Center. Others also reported that there are Pokéstops and Pokégym around Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Yosemite National Park. Other than catching Pokémon, the game also provides educational insights to the players. In the Great Smoky Mountain’s Mountain Farm Museum, there are three Pokéstops. When players find them, a historical context about the place will appear on the screen. Moreover, the Twitter account Pokémon Archaelogy is filled with Pokémon sightings in historical settings. The rangers working in the Washington Monument also helps players who visit the place to hunt for Pokémon and locate Pokéstops while educating them about the history of the sites and stopping them from entering solemn sites that are off-limits for playing.

However, cases of injuries while playing the game around national parks have increased. Rangers working in national parks should guide visitors and always remind them to be cautious while playing the game.

Dwyer and Associates works hard to preserve and restore U.S. National Parks. Learn more about the institution’s advocacy here.

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