How to Write Great Natural Atlas Pages

Natural Atlas is much like Wikipedia, but easier, tuned just for the outdoors, and there's a map. It’s a community-driven effort to catalog all of what makes nature great. Locals have the best knowledge of their region — which is why Natural Atlas is open for anyone to edit, and also why we need your help.

Get Inspired

Great pages don't need to be wordy. Even the smallest edit helps. Here are couple examples of what we think are good pages:

Find Something to Edit

Blurbs

A “blurb” is the subtitle for a feature. Try to make it unique and memorable. It generally shouldn’t be a full sentence. The editor will automatically title-case it for you when you leave the field — so don’t worry about what needs capitalized. Good: “Hike Old Ranch Land Without Leaving Bozeman”, “Spectacular 360° View of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone”, “America’s First National Park.” Bad: “Popular Campground”, “It is a…”.

Linking

To link to other features on Natural Atlas, type a # then start typing the title of the feature you want to link to. When it comes up, you can either click on the menu item or press Enter to insert it.

Linking

Adding Photos

Photos are really easy to add. If there’s not a photo section already, click the “Photos” button at the bottom of the editor. Then select the photo(s) you want to add, and that’s it! If there’s not already a photo section, click “Photos” to add a new one.

Adding Sections

P.S. Please refrain from pictures with people in them. We'd like to keep pages as pristine as possible (like nature). We'll be launching Trip Reports eventually – which is where we'd love those sorts of shots!

Setting a Photo License

When saving a page that has new images, a dialog pops up and will ask you about the license of the photos. If you took the photos, this is your chance to tell us how you want to allow other people to use your photos outside of Natural Atlas. The default is Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike — which basically says other people can use your photo however they like non-commercially, provided they give you credit for it. Important: If the photos are coming from elsewhere, please select the license the author gave them and give them credit.

Set License Dialog

We're in the Wild

After a year of development, Natural Atlas is open to the public. Natural Atlas is a community-driven initiative to build the most reliable, up-to-date map and resource about the outdoors — open to everyone, editable by anyone.

Explore Nature Online

We have hundreds of thousands of waterfalls, campsites, springs, geysers, and other natural features. There are roughly 250 classifications we’ve broken features up into — from creeks, to peaks, to mine adits. Click on anything on the map to pull up its page. Conversely, type and search for anything to pull it up on the map.

Topo Map

What’s the Need?

We built Natural Atlas for many reasons. (1) There’s no great map of the United States’ wild places online. (2) Planning trips bouncing back and forth between a map and guide book is painful. (3) A definitive catalog of natural features exists no where. (4) Once-venerable USGS topos are dead, outdated, and poor “zoomed out”. (5) Lastly, it’s sad that in 2015 verbose descriptions like these are needed to describe how to get to a trailhead:

“To get to the parking area, from Moran Junction head east on US-26E/US-287S. At 16.4 miles (26.4 km), you’ll pass Togwotee Mountain Lodge, at 20.4 miles (32.8 km), the road to Holmes Cave (I took a hike there; never again, the place was all wrong for all its views), at 27.4 miles (44 km), the sign telling you you’re entering Teton County, and at 33.4 miles (53.7 km), the road to the Brooks Lake Trailhead. Keep going east; another 4 miles (6.4 km) down the road (37.4 miles (60.2 km) from Moran Junction), there will be a well-signed road… [and it keeps on going]

Link it! The solution to all of this is a good map paired with an editable guide of everything on the map. That’s what Natural Atlas is: the missing link between maps and guides.

A Constantly Changing Map

USGS updated maps over the course of decades. Their “replacement”, US Topo has a release cycle of 3 years [1]. Natural Atlas, on the other hand, updates continuously. Roads on the map are from OpenStreetMap — which anyone can contribute to, and in turn make their mark on Natural Atlas. Everything else on the map is the result of programmatically blending many different data sources plus a lot of hand-curation (which we’re continuing to do).

Road Washout

Easy to Contribute

Page editing does not require technical know-how like Wikipedia. There’s no syntax to learn — it’s simple. Help us out: add photos, descriptions, and succinct blurbs. Check out our guide on the editor. Every change to Natural Atlas is tracked and can be easily compared to previous revisions.

Premium: Go Offline

Luddites are in luck. Natural Atlas has on-demand, high-quality PDF generation. Right click on the map, press “Print Map”, then design the perfect map to print out at home. Want to stick maps in a binder for safe-keeping? We’ve got a 3-hole punch setting. Have a GPS? We’ve got KMZ exporting too.

These offline features are part of our Lodgepole Plan, available for $30/yr. The proceeds will help us stay afloat! To celebrate our release, we’ll mail you 5 sheets of waterproof, tear-resistant Teslin® paper for your inkjet printer free if you upgrade today.

GPS / Print Map

Where We're Going

We’ve got tons in store. In the near future: Map notes. Mark your favorite fishing spots, log crossings, cairns and other intricate details that have never been part of an outdoor map before. Realtime data. Are you a kayaker? Click on a stream and see the flow rate. Trail networks. We already have trailheads, but the next step is to show all the trails they service on the map.


Try it out! We’re currently focusing on the Greater Yellowstone region: Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. In the coming months we will be expanding to other states (read more). Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook to stay up to date! Want to talk? Email: hello@naturalatlas.com