7 Ideas for effective park wayfinding

Mark Woolmer

Parks, gardens and open spaces attract thousands of visitors, from dog walkers to runners, those enjoying outdoor sports and picnics, or families visiting play spaces and sand pits. Wayfinding is ideal to ensure every visitor can navigate a park safely, summon assistance in an emergency, and find the amenities or facilities they require.

The right wayfinding signage makes a park accessible to all, enjoyable and safe, directing visitors to areas such as bathrooms, cafes, park managers and car parking spaces while providing a space that feels welcoming and well-managed.

Local authorities and individuals responsible for running a park, such as a ranger or warden, can also use wayfinding to raise awareness of risks, such as deep lakes and steep drops while segregating areas designed for cyclists, pedestrians and vehicles.

1. Add Wayfinding for Vehicles Visiting a Park

Zoo Totem Wayfinding Signs

The vast majority of parks are pedestrianised but may have spaces allotted for car parking, ranger’s vehicles, or visiting coaches. Car park wayfinding should be visible from vehicles of any height and can avoid issues, such as visitors inadvertently driving into areas where vehicles are not permitted or accessing restricted access zones, such as routes for rangers.

Good quality outdoor wayfinding makes car parking simple and straightforward, avoiding bottlenecks or traffic driving the wrong way around one-way routes and aiding safety measures to keep cars in designated areas away from walkers and children.

2. Ensure Wayfinding is engaging

One of the great ways to add value to your park experience is to use colour and design within wayfinding to ensure text is legible and clear, consistent with other signage or colours used in park fencing.

Placing highly visible signs at junctions in walking routes can prevent visitors from becoming lost in larger parklands or those with dense woodlands and can add further information, such as:

  • Routes suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.
  • Areas reserved for specific visitors, such as cyclists.
  • Notices around paths that are particularly steep or uneven.
  • The average walking time it will take to complete a route.

Using symbols and abbreviations allows park owners to include as much relevant information as necessary without needing to design larger wayfinding signs that can intrude on the natural landscape. For example, many parks with extensive walking routes use colour coding to indicate the ease of navigation along a path, with red for tough, steep inclines and green for even and level pathways.

Interactive Wayfinding Trail Post

3. Educate with wayfinding

Another excellent way to make a park an exciting and interesting place to visit is to use wayfinding to add context or educational information about flora and fauna, buildings or constructions such as bandstands within a park, or including details of species and wildlife that live within the space.

Artwork and logos are engaging and captivating, ideal for children and families, and can feature symbols and icons to indicate the types of animals visitors should look for along a certain path or convey the importance of an ancient woodland or Victorian wildlife pond.

Fitzpatrick Woolmer can suggest fonts and styles that are consistent with the age and location of your park, creating a cohesive experience.

Chelmer Wood Lectern A2 Display

4. Consider Recycled Park Wayfinding Signage

Parks are green spaces, welcoming local communities to make the most of warmer weather, take in the fresh air and engage in healthy outdoor activities such as walking, cycling and running – and so, opting for recycled and eco-friendly signage is often a natural priority.

Wayfinding can also feed into a park strategy to inform visitors about the impact of littering or causing damage to the natural habitats around lakes, ponds, reservoirs, woods and shrubbery.

Recycled signs are ideal for parks with a low-impact strategy. They can reinforce a commitment to maintaining natural areas for native species to thrive while featuring recycled materials preservative finishes and modern functionality to ensure wayfinding signage will last for years to come.

5. Choosing Wayfinding Signage Styles for Parks

Each park and public outdoor space is different, and the age and relevance of the park may influence the style and aesthetic you wish your signage to have. For example, long-established city parks, which were originally built in Victorian times, often use heritage-style fencing, benches and signage to complement the style of the park.

Mixing informational and interpretive signage with wayfinding and using consistent styles and colours throughout can communicate the park’s history, using illustrations or historical photographs to engage and educate visitors.

Other more modern parks, and those developed to improve the air quality in urban areas, have a contemporary feel and use slimline wayfinding signage, which is in keeping with the layout and features within the park.

6. Designing Park Entrance Signs

Leeds Castle Vehicle Entrance Sign
Leeds Castle Vehicle Entrance Sign

Entrance signs make a park feel welcoming and inclusive, often featuring several details such as:

  • The name of the park.
  • Mapping to indicate the location of facilities and car parks.
  • Contact information for the local council or warden.
  • Opening and closing times.

You can opt for directional wayfinding signage in the form of finger posts, with customised arrows aiding navigation, or use entrance signs to offer more context and history about when the park was founded, sponsors who have contributed to the facilities, or restrictions on what visitors are permitted to do.

For example, many parks prohibit barbecues and bonfires due to the potential for uncontrolled wildfires or may not allow skateboards or roller skates.

7. Adding Wayfinding to Park Noticeboards

Notice boards are popular in public parks and allow community groups to post information, such as children’s activity groups, public events and occasions, or details of sports clubs or activities available for visitors to engage with.

Creative mapping is a fantastic way to improve the accessibility of a park, highlighting key points within the area or helping visitors see where they are within the broader layout and determine the shortest route to their intended destination.

Our outdoor signage is custom designed to your specifications and can feature graphics, photography, illustration and mapping alongside text, directional arrows and advisory notices to ensure visitors can access the park with full knowledge of the facilities available, who to contact for help, and how to make the most of the open space.

Related Reading: find out more about our park signage here.

Mark Woolmer

Mark Woolmer

With a strong background in art and design, Mark is passionate about the capacity for excellent design as a communication tool, leading the Fitzpatrick Woolmer company and focusing on strategy, business development and continual improvement.

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