Touchless Park Reservation Platform Transforms Tourism Experience at Maryland’s Kilgore Falls
The Falling Branch area of Rocks State Park in Maryland is a 67-acre parcel in Harford County with a waterfall named Kilgore Falls. Over time, Kilgore Falls has become a very popular outdoor recreation destination, especially for day-time recreationists. So popular, in fact, the area was turning away an average of 300 vehicles on busy summer weekends — 375 on the busiest.
Due to that popularity and space issues stemming from the area’s 30-vehicle parking lot, visitors who were turned away would often circle the nearby roads causing traffic issues on rural roads, queuing long lines, turning other visitors away and prompting off-side parking, walk-ins and drop-offs. Neighbors began to complain about illegal parking, heavy traffic and speeding, and unfortunately, confrontations with park staff were not uncommon, with disputes occurring over parking and access. The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) realized it needed a fix, and it needed it fast.
For the 2019 season, the DNR created a call-in reservation system. Park staff took calls during office hours and emailed passes to customers. However, this system created a significant staff workload and very limited customer availability.
Then, for the 2020 season, the DNR partnered with digital government solutions firm NIC and implemented YourPassNow for weekend reservations.
YourPassNow is a touchless, agile park reservation platform which allows visitors to federal and state public lands to make payments and purchase their entry passes and recreation permits online. The platform was spearheaded by the National Park Service to make entrance passes to national parks available for purchase online instead of the traditional paper-based, in-person method. Today, YourPassNow is used by more than 70 federal, state and local partners and sold more than 211,000 digital passes in 2020 alone.
Implementing YourPassNow addressed issues such as:
- Parking space accommodations
- Number of vehicles traveling nearby rural roads causing heavy traffic
- Protecting the area’s natural resources • Illegal off-site parking, walk-ins and drop-offs
- Visiting families being separated • Poor organization for visitors traveling long distances
- Elected officials becoming involved in confrontations with staff due to parking and access
YourPassNow was implemented within a week’s time and quickly began providing Kilgore Falls visitors with touchless, self-service digital entrance, day-use passes and permits, timed entry permits and a digital platform to pay for parking. The service is user-friendly and flexible, with availability via online, mobile and phone call 24 hours per day.
At Rocks State Park, YourPassNow aims to provide low-risk, high-confidence experiences, eliminate waiting in line and reduce exposure between visitors and park employees. The web-based system is also accessible to park rangers in real time via mobile devices.
During the 2020 season, 3,120 passes were reserved with 57.6% of passes being booked after office hours and 78.4% of consumers using a mobile device. Additionally, the park’s website tallied nearly 64,000 visits and the DNR received a 99.2% overall customer satisfaction rate.
Using YourPassNow, the DNR was able to reduce vehicle traffic with a more organized reservation system, eliminate roadway conflicts with neighbors, better manage visitor expectations, drastically improve customer feedback and customer experience, and reduce the stress on staff from both workload and customer frustration. In addition, the area’s natural resources are better protected from overcrowding and its devastating effects, preserving the area for generations to come. A final advantage, YourPassNow scales quickly and easily to meet the unique needs of all land management agencies with new locations up and running on YourPassNow.com in a matter of days.
In addition to Maryland, NIC has deployed YourPassNow in Wisconsin, New Jersey, Kentucky and Arkansas as well as more than 150 federal sites, including Grand Canyon National Park, Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park and Everglades National Park.
- 3,120 Passes Reserved
- 64,000 Website Visits (Sessions)
- 57.6% of Passes Booked After Office Hours
- 78.4% Used a Mobile Device
- 99.2% Overall Customer Satisfaction
NIC has 20 years of experience in outdoor licensing solutions across 11 states, in addition to extensive expertise in managing digital government services and secure payment processing for government.
NIC (Nasdaq: EGOV) is a leading digital government solutions and payments company, serving more than 7,100 federal, state and local government agencies across the nation. With headquarters in Olathe, Kansas, and offices in more than 30 states, NIC partners with government to deliver user-friendly digital services that make it easier and more efficient to interact with government – providing valuable conveniences such as applying for unemployment insurance, submitting business filings, renewing licenses, accessing information and making secure payments without visiting a government office. In 2020, NIC securely processed 400 million online transactions and more than $24 billion on behalf of government agencies. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NIC also developed 130 new solutions to address crisis communications, pandemic unemployment, COVID-19 testing and vaccine scheduling. Learn more at www.egov.com.