Parks on the Air

BWA's Guide to Getting Started

Parks on the Air (POTA) is a captivating activity within the ham radio community that combines the joys of outdoor exploration with amateur radio communication. The concept is simple yet thrilling: radio operators venture into designated parks, nature reserves, or protected areas, setting up portable radio stations amid the beauty of the natural world. Their mission? To activate these locations and make radio contacts with other hams around the globe.

POTA offers a unique blend of technology, adventure, and environmental appreciation. Operators deploy their portable gear, including transceivers and antennas, in an effort to reach fellow hams, who eagerly chase after these activations. Each contact is a testament to both the operator's radio skills and their ability to enjoy the serenity of the great outdoors.

This global network of park activations fosters a sense of community among amateur radio enthusiasts, encourages exploration of our planet's diverse ecosystems, and raises awareness about the importance of preserving these natural treasures. Whether you're an experienced ham or new to the hobby, Parks on the Air offers a rewarding way to connect with nature and fellow radio enthusiasts while making your mark on the airwaves.

POTA Participants

There are two groups of people who participate in POTA, Hunters and Activators


In the world of Parks on the Air (POTA), the Hunter plays a vital role as an enthusiastic radio operator on the lookout for park activations. Hunters are the radio adventurers who eagerly seek out and make contact with operators activating parks, nature reserves, and protected areas around the world. Armed with their own amateur radio equipment and a passion for the hunt, they listen for signals from activators in real-time or monitor POTA spotting networks.

The Hunter's goal is to log as many park activations as possible, collecting confirmation or "QSL" contacts from different parks and operators. Their keen ears and skill in efficiently making contacts allow them to support and encourage activators while building their own collection of park contacts. The Hunter role adds an exciting element of pursuit and connection to the POTA experience, making it a vibrant and collaborative community within the ham radio hobby.


The Activator is at the heart of the Parks on the Air (POTA) experience, embodying the spirit of adventure and amateur radio. An Activator is a dedicated ham radio operator who ventures into designated parks, nature reserves, or protected areas, equipped with portable radio gear. Their mission is to establish a temporary radio station within these natural settings and make radio contacts with fellow hams worldwide.

Activators set up their antennas, transceivers, and power sources amidst the beauty of nature, embracing the challenges of varying conditions and terrains. They broadcast their presence and frequency to attract the attention of Hunters, who eagerly seek to make contact. Activators log each contact and engage in conversations, sharing their location and experiences.

This role combines a love for amateur radio with a passion for exploration and environmental appreciation. Activators bring remote and often untouched natural landscapes to life on the airwaves, fostering a sense of community, adventure, and conservation awareness within the POTA community. It's a rewarding role that allows operators to connect with nature and fellow radio enthusiasts while sharing the beauty of our planet.

Getting Started as a Hunter

The first step of getting involved is going to the POTA website and creating an account. Once you have an account that is associated with your callsign and a station to operate from, you are ready to begin!

But how do you know who is/will be activating a park? There are multiple tools at your disposal:

Once you find someone on the air! Simply make contact with them. There tend to be pile-ups, so be prepared. Give your callsign clearly once when trying to make contact with the park station. Exchange a signal report and give your location. Don't talk any more than you need to! There often are many others waiting behind you to also activate the park. Be curtious and respectful.

Getting started as an Activator

Activating a park is a bit more involved than being a hunter. First and foremost you must have a means of operating a station from whatever park you are choosing to travel to. What power source, radio, and antenna you bring will be dependent on the type of environment you are operating in. You can't throw a wire in a tree if there are no trees around!

At a high level, these are the following steps you should take when activating a park: