What do the people behind Pokemon GO and the National Park Foundation have in common? Something big, actually: They both want people to get outside and explore.
Niantic, the company that brought you augmented reality games Pokemon GO and Ingress, first partnered with the National Park Foundation last summer when they invited players of both popular games to visit, explore, and complete tasks in lesser-known parks across the country. Gathering in small groups, they raised awareness about these under-the-radar destinations while playing their favorite games.
Operation Clear Field was one such initiative in which Ingress players cleaned up over 100 parks and other public places across the world. They also donated $60,000 to the National Park Foundation through donations and event registration fees.
Now, this power partnership is at it again, gamifying our rivers and trails to get more people outside.
Celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act with Pokemon Go
This fall, in celebration of the National Trails and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act, Niantic and the National Park Foundation have presented us (as in, anyone who is interested in having a little fun outside) with the challenge of visiting as many rivers and trails as possible.
The National Trails and Wild & Scenic Rivers Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson on October 2, 1968, prioritizing the protection of these long ribbons of outdoor recreation in America. Since then, hundreds of National Trails and Wild & Scenic Rivers have been protected.
Famous examples of trails protected under the act include the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail and the Oregon National Historic Trail. Currently, 12,753.5 miles of river has been protected under the act as well.
In this Rivers and Trails 50th Anniversary campaign, Niantic is encouraging its users to collectively visit all of them. Niantic’s AR games like Pokemon Go already encourage people to be more physically active, and now players are incentivized to visit these scenic trails and rivers while playing them. By venturing a little further to find a Charmander or Pikachu, players will actively help promote these areas, raise awareness about the protection of trails and rivers, and develop a closer relationship to nature.
How You Can Participate
The campaign started on October 4 and runs through December 31. To participate, simply visit a protected trail or river while playing one of Niantic’s games like Pokemon Go, then send a letter or postcard about your adventure to Niantic, or post a photo on Instagram with the hashtags #FindYourWay and #ExploreWithNiantic. Also make sure to tag the official @NianticLabs Instagram account and add your location.
For every physical or digital postcard Niantic receives, it will donate $5 to the National Park Foundation. (There is a limit of one donation per person and a cap of $100,000 in total donations.)
Additionally, all registration fees from events hosted in national parks as part of this campaign will also be donated. As a reward for participating, people will get a postcard from Niantic and an honorary patch.