The excitement of 5 9 SSB DX (clear distant voice) transmissions, the thrill of a successful Morse code exchange. For every amateur radio (ham) operator, these are the sounds of a satisfying hobby. But for those of us in urban areas, the radio noise of the city – sirens, traffic, LED lightings, power inverters with all sorts of electrical hum, – can drown out even the strongest HF radio signals. Enter the exciting, and perhaps unexpected, solution: hill tops, national parks and far-off remote locations.

The Great QRM Escape: QRM, in ham radio speak, stands for “man-made noise.” Increasingly dense cities with their ever-present hum of electrical interference are making HF (high frequency) communication a challenge. This push out of the city isn’t a bad thing, though. It’s a chance to reconnect with the natural world, a core value of many park systems themselves.

Morse Code Under the Stars: Imagine this: You’ve hiked to a scenic overlook in a national park. With a breathtaking vista before you, you unpack your compact HF radio. The only sounds are the rustle of leaves and the chirping of crickets. You tap out a message in Morse code, a rhythmic poetry understood by hams around the world. The reply crackles back, faint but clear, weaving a connection across the miles. It’s a unique way to appreciate nature’s beauty while engaging in your favorite hobby.

A Hamtastic Adventure: There’s even a program for this growing trend – Parks on the Air (POTA). This international award program encourages hams to operate their stations from parks and public lands. Imagine the thrill a remote park-to-park contact with fellow enthusiasts across the country, all while surrounded by stunning scenery.

More Than Just QSOs: Beyond the technical aspects, there’s a sense of excitement that blossoms when you encounter another ham in the wild sharing the same hobby as yours. Sharing stories, tips, and the joy of operating amidst nature creates a special connection. You might even inspire park visitors to learn more about amateur radio, its rich history, and its role in communication and disaster relief.

So, is the city pushing hams out? Perhaps. But it’s also opening doors to a more adventurous and rewarding way to enjoy the hobby. So, dust off your CW key & microphones, pack your hiking boots, and get ready to experience the magic of ham radio under the open sky. You might just discover a whole new dimension to your favorite pastime.

Who knows, you might even spark an interest in ham radio, in someone else while you’re at it!