A national park in California is cutting down on its paper use by allowing hikers to opt for a digital map they download onto their smart phones. Park patrons can scan a QR code (those pixel Rorschach test-looking bar codes found in magazine ads) to get the map. For hikers like me who worry about cell phone failure on the trail, there’s a paper map for that. Below are the details from the National Park Service.

National Park Service Pilots Maps for Smartphones
Date: April 5, 2012
NEWBURY PARK, Calif. – Smartphone users at select sites in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area can now scan a Quick Response Code for a free digital map. The pilot program is believed to be the first of its kind within the National Park Service.
Commonly known as QR codes, the technology allows visitors to save the map as a picture and store it on their phone for future reference. Numerous QR code readers are available as free smartphone applications.
“Now that QR codes are becoming more commonplace, this is another way we can connect with visitors while minimizing the amount of paper and potential waste in our parklands,” said Park Ranger Mike Theune.
Theune launched the program this week at the two Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa trailheads and the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center. He hopes to place additional QR codes over the next six months at park sites with strong cell signals.

For those who prefer hard copies, paper maps are still available either at the trailhead or at the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center. Alternatively, site maps are available on the park website, www.nps.gov/samo, under “Plan Your Visit.”