Parks on the Air or POTA is my favorite portable, off the grid amateur radio activity. POTA is much more than just whacking the paddles or yelling into the mic. POTA will get you out of the ham shack, off the grid and out into mother nature. Remember her?
POTA is an entire ecosystem run by amateurs for amateurs. POTA is not a contest but a fun activity where activators submit logs and certificates are emailed out to both park hunters and park activators. If you enjoy collecting fun certificates, open a free POTA account and, over time certificates will be issued out depending on the number of overall contacts you make.
Every State Park has a park number. To find parks in your area, click on the map, enter the DXCC entry (United States for me) and the State (New York in my case), then zoom in to your specific area. Click on any of the dots to get the related park number.
Not all State Parks are good for a POTA activations! Prior to bringing your gear out, take a drive to the park and be sure there are favorable conditions for operating. For instance, there is a local park here with no actual entrance. If there is a trail leading to the park (within 100 feet as the POTA rules state) and you can safely operate, then you have a park that can be activated.
If you have planned out a POTA day, then create your account or log into the POTA system and use the POTA scheduler to announce your intended park, time, date and band. When you get to a State Park, you can start off by spotting yourself on the pota.us Web site. Park Hunters seeking your Park Number will respond to your CQ. Now you are a Park activator.
Of course if you are unable to get to a park you can join in on the fun by becoming a Park Hunter. Park hunters can us use the pota.us spotting page to find park activators. No logging is required for park hunters. The park activators are responsible for all log submissions.