Indiana’s state parks are happy to welcome a new group of visitors who are as interested in spotting a fictional Pikachu or Venomoth as they are in seeing a raccoon or scarlet tanager.

These visitors are players of the widely popular Pokemon Go mobile game. The game has resulted in increased traffic to state parks, which are a natural fit for the location-based augmented reality game.

Most of the game’s action takes place outdoors while walking. Players use a smartphone camera to identify “PokeStops” and “gyms” and collect fictional animals.

As of this week, Indiana’s 24 state parks and eight reservoir properties were home to more than 200 locations for the game. State forests also have locations. The number of locations will continue to grow.

“We are happy to have our parks be a part of this game,” said Ginger Murphy, Indiana State Parks deputy director for stewardship. “But we want people to be safe, stay on trails and look up from their phones. You will find that the real-world natural features and historical elements at our state parks are even more fascinating than a video game.”

Walking around a park or forest while staring at a smartphone screen can be dangerous. Potential hazards at Indiana state parks include road traffic, cliffs and other rough terrain, wild animals, poison ivy and more. Pay attention to your surroundings. On hiking trails, be on the lookout for rocks, roots and other hazards.

Pokemon players must also follow property rules. This includes observing park hours, which are 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. at most Indiana state parks. Players should not enter after regular hours of operation. Players should also stay on designated trails. Walking off-trail can damage sensitive natural areas and animal habitats. Players should leave no trace behind.

Finally, take a break from the digital world to experience the natural world. Indiana’s parks and forests are home to breathtaking landscapes, unique historical features, towering trees, delicate wildflowers and interesting animals — all of which are as worthy of your attention as the latest video game craze.

Aside from Pokemon, other activities at state parks include mountain biking, horseback riding, swimming, birdwatching, paddling, fishing, camping and more.

The Waynedale News Staff
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