Within Range

Just in time for the summer travel season, a growing number of state parks across the country have begun adding wireless Internet access for outdoor enthusiasts who also want to stay connected.

By: By J.L. Erickson

Wi-Fi camping is now available at many state parks throughout the U.S.Just in time for the summer travel season, a growing number of state parks across the country have begun adding wireless Internet access for outdoor enthusiasts who also want to stay connected.

California — leading other states with nearly 50 Wi-Fi enabled parks — began the effort five years ago, installing Wi-Fi in campgrounds, lodges and visitor centers. More states quickly followed, and Wi-Fi equipped parks now include Texas, Idaho, Colorado and Oregon. California state beaches in Malibu, San Clemente and Half Moon Bay also offer wireless Internet access. More than 85 million people visit California’s State Park system every year.

Wi-Fi, short for wireless fidelity, allows park visitors with wireless-enabled laptops and personal digital assistants to access the Internet at speeds 50 to 100 times as fast as dial-up connections — most of which often don’t even exist at state parks. Generally, park visitors can access Wi-Fi when they’re within about 150 to 200 feet of a park hotspot.

Wireless access can be an added selling point for agents advising clients on driving vacations this summer, even as the Travel Industry Association (TIA) said recently that rising gas prices don’t appear to be driving any decline in travelers’ summer plans.

For a list of parks with Wi-Fi: www.wififreespot.com/rv.html For a list of California state parks with Wi-Fi: www.parks.ca.gov

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