Electronic Tour Sites: Enhancing visitor experience on two historic trails

by Chrysann Jaeger, Recreation Programs Assistant and Historic Routes Project Manager, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests

Photo Credit: USFS
Historic Routes Project Manager Chrysann Jaeger, a 2018 PNTS Trail Apprentice, with the indoor Lolo Pass Visitor Center Electronic Tour Site.

The Lolo Trail National Historic Landmark (NHL) encompasses the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail (NPNHT) and Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail (LCNHT) through the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests of north central Idaho. To highlight these historically and culturally significant places, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests initiated its Historic Routes Project with the goal of installing Electronic Tour Sites at various locations along the trails. As part of a pilot project being tested out by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) National Technology and Development Program, six Electronic Tour Sites were installed in the summer and fall of 2019 at backcountry entry points along the Lolo Trail NHL and at Lolo Pass Visitor Center. 

An Electronic Tour Site is essentially a hotspot in the backcountry, where one would normally not have any network connection, that enables visitors to download brochures, maps, podcasts, and more from onsite Wi-Fi. Content featured on each site can be customized to meet the specific needs of the trailhead or section of the Lolo Trail. The NPNHT Auto Tours are featured on these electronic sites, as well as other pertinent content to the trail, Nez Perce, Lewis and Clark, local history, and general information about the region and the forests. Each digital kiosk unit costs approximately $1,000, including hardware, programming, and installation. The project has been funded through an initial grant and USFS funds.

As the project moves further into implementation, more specific interpretive content will be developed for individual sites, guided by the recently completed Interpretive Plan. Initial content that is currently uploaded to these sites is in the form of brochures, topographic maps, and pilot podcasts that were readily available. Additional Electronic Tour Sites pertaining to the Nez Perce and Lewis and Clark NHTs are planned for installation in 2020 at four community and front country indoor locations surrounding the trails, and five additional outdoor and backcountry locations. 

Site Specifics


This NPNHT trailhead illustrates the importance of Nez Perce culture and Lewis and Clark emerging from Lolo Trail NHL onto Weippe Prairie. 


Photo Credit: USFS

This main Lolo Trail entrance emphasizes trapping, hunting, mining, and changes after Lewis and Clark’s journey opened the west to American expansion.


One of the main access points to NPNHT and LCNHT that shows the importance of the Lolo Trail as a historic trade route with the Nez Perce and Kootenai-Salish Tribes. 


The eastern entrance for Lolo Trail NHL provides ecosystem information and highlights how fire has shaped the landscape along the trail.


The indoor kiosk describes the cultural importance of the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River, Lewis and Clark’s trek across the Lolo Trail, and the Nez Perce War of 1877. 


Photo Credit: USFS The Beaver Dam Saddle Junction Electronic Tour Site and interpretive signs, featuring a solar panel on the upper left corner. Mounted on the back of the post is a router, thumb drive with coding, and other electronic regulatory hardware.

The indoor kiosk describes the cultural importance of the Lochsa Wild and Scenic River, Lewis and Clark’s trek across the Lolo Trail, and the Nez Perce War of 1877.

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