US National Park Service Tagging: Roads

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Roads and trails will follow multi-modal transportation principles, which suggest that a LBS provider can serve mechanical and non-mechanical navigation solutions within the same architecture. Roads and trails have been digitized such that topology rules allow navigation on road, to a parking lot, and onto the trail. Each type of linear travel category (roads, parking lots, and trails) exist within the same node-topology network.

This example covers the most detailed road tagging we encounter, with MV restrictions:

Road Names

National Park Service employees are only authorized to use the OFFICIAL ROAD name when publishing ANY mapping data for park roads. This has created some lively discussion within the OSM community, many of whom feel that other road names should be used. There is some consensus within the OSM community that the "signed" road name should be used in OSM data. OSM mappers should note that: Many, if not most, Park Service road are not signed. It is NPS policy to minimize the use of signs in parks in keeping with wilderness character; Official park road names are what is used when sharing road data with neighboring emergency response jurisdictions. Consider a consumer of OSM data, stuck in park with an injury! If, when on the phone with E911 services, they communicate the wrong road information, the potential for delay of life-saving services is very real, and this scenario has occurred in parks due to erroneous GPS data. Therefore, NPS Roads should be tagged with "Name"

and "Official Name"

This allows government agency rendering of OSM Park Maps to keep with NPS policy for road names, yet allow OSM mappers to modify "common" or "aka" park road names. However, the NPS prefers that road name and official name remain the same, as to minimize any potential hazardous situtions based on road name mis-labelling.

If a road has a state or federal highway number, then adding

will allow the default OSM renderer to include that label.

will indicate that the road shared two route designations (a common occurrence) and will be labelled appropriately.

Access Restrictions Based on Time or Type

[Example with access condition]

Some park roads do not allow large recreational vehicles or busses due to the fact that...they can't fit!

No Commercial Vehicles!

"Most" National Parks prohibit ANY commercial vehicle use of, and travel on, park roads, including park roads which are considered part of the surrounding jurisdiction transportation network. Park roads should be tagged with this restriction unless the park has officially confirmed that the restriction DOES NOT exist on a particular road:

Type of Road

The Federal Highways road classification does not lend itself well to translating to the [OSM Highway Tags]. Common sense prevails here! Most [campground] roads would be

whereas a [park road] would be

or a [major park road] would be

A [major road that is part of a larger transportation network] (e.g. state road) would be

Parking Areas

[Parking areas are an important visitor destination in parks], and emphasis should be placed on capturing them so that OSM data consumers can create rich, interactive maps showing visitors where, and how to get to, points of interest. We recommend that parking lots include a "routable" way through the parking lot. This allows GPS to route travellers from a road, to or through a parking lot, to a point of interest (trailhead, overlook). We do not recommend using parking aisle or parking spot tags, rather, tag the way as "service". Tagging each parking space in a parking lot can clutter up any map products using these data, and is not necessary to convey that the location in general is where people can park.

In this example, note also that we have tagged a ["node"] along the "way" as

There is no need to also add the parking area name to the parking node. This serves to create a parking "Icon".

NPS parking.svg


Many park roads shown currently in OSM include legacy TIGER data from a bulk import. The OSM community prefers that these tags be removed if a road in a park is remapped or retagged with more accurate data

Road Topology

Road with like tags are "combined" in JOSM (not the case when imported from ESRI!). OSM preference is for ways NOT to be split at every intersection unless tags or other road attributes change! Park GIS staff, uploading GIS data into OSM, would do well to "merge" road lines which share common attributes before uploading to OSM. In addition, set one-way roads to follow digitized direction. However, by selecting several road ways in JOSM, and hitting the "C" key, will combine ways.

Please note that it is very likely that road name and other attributes will change at the park boundary. Split and tag as appropriate.

Road Geometry

If using GIS data sourced from the NPS, it is very likely that the data is "over noded", that is, the way has too many nodes! For example, a curved parking way that is 10 m across but has 20 nodes. Use common sense and the JOSM "simplify" tool, which can be adjusted in its depth of simplifying. Ways should be simplified to the point that the essential geometry is preserved, but not such that the road characteristic is altered or direction is significantly changed.

Road Turn Restrictions

We have not yet tagged turn restrictions, however, request that OSM mappers assist with tagging road turn restrictions within National Parks!


Following Manual Conflation guidelines, we see no need to conflate to Tiger roads. However, by using the "Replace Geometry" tool in JOSM, we are, in a sense, achieving conflation, which keeps the important edit history. This is achieved by "pasting" the new road into JOSM, selecting it and the "old" road, and using the replace geometry tool.


Many park units do not maintain addressing for a transportation network that covers different jurisdictions, each with its own addressing schema. OSM contributers wishing to enable addressing on roads within a park footprint should contact the local jurisdiction for specific addressing data.


If know, and this is REALLY HANDY data to have for fire fighters responding to a fire in a park:


Road Surface

Many NPS roads may be gravel or dirt

Some roads may be four-wheel drive only

A node on a 4WD road tagged as

lends itself well to using this symbol

NPS 4 wheel drive trail.svg

Mile Markers

In many National Parks, visitors are unfamiliar with local features when attempting to reference their location. Some parks may have established signed and monumented [mile posts]. Mile markers should only be captured if they are physically present. Adding "measured" mile markers to NPS roads where they are not monumented in the ground may be confusing. Using "MM" in the name emphasizes the notion that this label, when rendered, is a mile marker.

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