Parks On The Air (POTA) Activations

Activations List

My Recent POTA Activity

Kartchner Caverns State Park (K-1059)

Park Details

State: Arizona (AZ)

Official Website: https://azstateparks.com/kartchner

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-1059



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 12-29-2022

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 28


Comments

This was my first ever POTA activation!  I took my portable setup with me for a Christmas vacation to Arizona and planned this activation since we were headed for a tour of the caverns.  It was a great success with a lot of QSOs from California and Texas.  I would have loved to stay longer, but our tour was starting and I had to pack it up!

Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (K-0911)

Park Details

State: Arizona (AZ)

Official Website: https://www.nps.gov/cagr/index.htm 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-0911 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 12-31-2022

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 19


Comments

My second activation was a little slow.  I think a big part of it was my inexperience with portable operations.  Looking back at the activation, my antenna placement was less than ideal and I didn't give it enough time.  That said, I was still able to get plenty of QSOs to qualify for the activation and I got to spend some great time with my wife!  We discovered, together, that we can go to parks and while I activate, she'll paint.  In fact, check out her painting below from the park!

Sonoran Desert National Monument (K-4435)

Park Details

State: Arizona (AZ)

Official Website: https://www.blm.gov/national-conservation-lands/arizona/sonoran-desert 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-4435 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 12-31-2022

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 11


Comments

This activation was my third overall and of the Arizona trip.  It was a long haul over there and this park is pretty barren (no services and very remote).  It was a beautiful site, however, and my wife and I watched a beautiful sunset before we left the park.  She painted another scene while we were there and I've included it below!  


I did learn one important less on this activation.  Have a good battery charger!  It turns out the cheap battery charger I had didn't actually charge my lithium ion battery and it died just a few minutes into the activation.  Luckily, I had just surpassed the requirement of 10 contact to get credit for the activation (otherwise I would have really been kicking myself!).

Detroit Lakes Wetland Management District (K-0358)

Park Details

State: Minnesota (MN)

Official Website: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/detroit-lakes-wetland-management-district  

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-0358 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 2-11-2023

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 117


Comments

I finally got around to making an activation in MN.  I don't know why I didn't activate this earlier as it's less than 2 miles from my house.  It's probably a combination of being so close and being winter before I had my portable kit ready.  (I always tell myself, "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good," but it looks like I'm not so good at following that advice).  It was a balmy 26 degrees (so pretty nice by February standards) but I had to toss the radial lead to get the distance.   I also decided to try out my Chameleon 17' Whip on this escapade and was very satisfied with the results on 20 Meters!


I was there for about 90 minutes and had 117 QSOs, so it was a great activation!  My kids were with and they were even pretty patient with the process.  I did stay in my car for this activation (you can see it in the photos) but that was just while we were sitting.  There were some large snow piles so we had a little fun with that too before we left!  I did make one decision on this activation... it was time to order some Ham Sticks and a mag mount to make winter activations easier.

Erie Dam/Brewer Lake Wildlife Management Area (K-8578)

Park Details

State: North Dakota (ND)

Official Website: https://gf.nd.gov/wma-listing 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-8578 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 2-19-2023

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 64


Comments

North Dakota was next on my list of places to activate.  First, I live pretty close.  Second, my Father-in-Law (W0GZL) lives in ND as well, so we visit often. Third, a lot of folks are looking for ND!  I made my way over to this site and, like many places in ND, there were some unplowed roads and we had to use 4WD to get back into the spot I wanted to set up.


I got this all tuned up and ready (I also sat in the car for this one) and boy did the pile up start!  There were a lot of folks seeking #50 to close it out.  I only managed to get 64 QSOs though as there was an older gentleman and his wife that got their Suburban and fish house stuck and I spent some time helping them out.  It was a bunch of fun and I need to make some time to get back over there!

Douglas State Trail (K-9381)

Park Details

State: Minnesota (MN)

Official Website: https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_trails/douglas/index.html 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-9381 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 5-18-2023

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 48


Comments

My wife and I were attending the Minnesota Association of Christian Home Educators (MACHE) conference in Rochester so I decided to bring my portable equipment with (why not, right?).  While she was attending a zoom meeting in the hotel, I made my way over to the nearby trailhead and set up for an activation.  It was a beautiful night for POTA with 48 QSOs in about an hour.  I even had one confirmed QSO from Spain!

Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge (K-0371)

Park Details

State: Minnesota (MN)

Official Website: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/tamarac 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-0371 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 7-15-2023

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 101


Comments

This was a fun one!  Eric, N0ZHD, and I decided to go together to activate Tamarac park near home.  Eric had never activated a park before, so we did a dual operator activation using my FT-891 and my Wolf River Coil.  Where we activated opened up over a lake, so we knew we'd get mostly contacts to the south and east, but being right in the trees was an interesting scenario.  Propagation was great and we had a ton of success and fun!

Grand Canyon National Park (K-0030) [ATTEMPT]

Park Details

State: Arizona (AZ)

Official Website: https://www.nps.gov/grca/index.htm 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-0030 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 10-9-2023

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 1


Comments

This time we were on a trip with our oldest daughter and visited the north side of the Grand Canyon.  It was amazing up there and I could't believe the views!  The trip and the visit was a great time and activating was secondary to our purpose of spending time with our daughter.  That said, I tried anyway!  This was my first time using my new Xeigu X6100 and I tried to activate this park on 5 Watts using my Wolf River Coil.  I got the antenna all tuned up, but conditions weren't great and I was having a hard time hearing others (let's not even talk about transmitting QRP).  But, I did manage to make one contact and rag-chew for about 15 minutes.  Unfortunately, it was getting dark and we still had an hour drive to get to our destination, so this one goes in the books as an attempt and a future retry!!

Slide Rock State Park (K-1068) [ATTEMPT]

Park Details

State: Arizona (AZ)

Official Website: https://azstateparks.com/slide-rock 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-1068 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 10-11-2023

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 0


Comments

On the same trip as the Grand Canyon, we decided to take a differnet route back and stop and Slide Rock State Park for a quick visit and activation.  That was a beautiful park nestled doen in the hills alongside the Coconino National Forest just south of Flagstaff.  I tried using my Xeigu X6100 and Wolf River Coil again, but I had no luck whatsoever.  I tried both 20 and 40 Meters, both using 5 Watts.  But, I suspect with the canyon walls I didn't have a high-enough take-off angle or power to get out of there.  A wire antenna configured as an NVIS may have been more successfull and, like the Grand Canyon, this is a future attempt waiting to happen!

Boyce Thompson Arboretum State Park (K-1053)

Park Details

State: Arizona (AZ)

Official Website: https://btarboretum.org/ 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-1053 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 12-29-2023

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 42


Comments

You know you've got a great wife when you can take her on a date to a state park and she let's you do a POTA activation!  Of course, it helps that this one was an Arboretum (she loves plants) and she can draw/paint while I'm activating.  First, if you get a chance, get out to this park, it's worth the entrance fee and really well done!  Second, propagation on 20 Meters was WIDE OPEN when I fired up the radio.  This time I used my FT-891 with my new "open and go" configuration along with my Wolf River Coil.  I also swapped out the radials for a "magic carpet" configuration using a faraday fabric as the ground plane.  I was impressed with the ease of setup (which my wife appreaciated since it took less time) and how well everything tuned up.  I only had about 25 minutes, so it had to be quick, but I covered the continent and had manage multiple pile-ups throughout the entire activation.  I was also able to finally connect on an activation with my father-in-law, W0GZL, in ND and my friend N0ZHD back in MN!

Lost Dutchman State Park (K-1061)

Park Details

State: Arizona (AZ)

Official Website: https://azstateparks.com/lost-dutchman 

POTA Link: https://pota.app/#/park/K-1061 



Activation Details

Date of Activation: 12-30-2023

Band: 20 Meters

Total QSOs: 32


Comments

We also visit this State Park on our AZ trip this Christmas.  We took the kids with today as this park seemed to have some good hiking trails.  We got up there in the morning (thankfully, because it got really busy by the time we left!) and decided to to a 2.4 mile hike along the side of the Superstition Mountains.  Well, it was a bit more of an elevation change than we expected and then we took the wrong trail back down and ended up with a 3.5 mile hike!  But, it was a ton of fun, the kids enjoyed it, and we got to spend some great time together as a family.  After the hike, we found a picnic bench and parked it there to activate, paint, draw, and play in the dirt.  20 Meters was open, but there was a contest.  I was just about to retune the Wolf River Coil to 40 meter when I found an open frequency and did my activation.  This one was short too, only about 25 minutes, but I still had plenty of traffic and contacts back home to MN and ND!

Which park is next?