Apps Bring National Parks to Life on Smartphones

Submitted by Outdoor Afro Lesly Simmons

I love spending time outdoors, but I have a bit of a problem-I’m addicted to my devices. Its so sad, but rather than beating myself up about it I tried to find ways to use my iPhone and iPad to help enhance my outdoor experiences. Turns out there are a ton of great apps that cover all the details of our national parks and many local ones across the country. Here are my favorites:

Fotopedia’s National Parks app is my favorite. Its easy to spend an hour lost in the incredible photography that populates the app–famed nature photographer QT Luong shot every national park in wide format film and 3,000 of his images are here on display. It’s a great source of travel inspiration for your next outdoor trip and looks great on iPhones and phenomenal on iPads. The free app is currently only available for iOS devices.

Chimani has developed individual, practical apps for several national parks with maps, park histories and news updates specific to each location. If you’re headed into a park this is an app you’ll want to take along. Even better, to mark Earth Day this year the company offered to give away 1 million copies of their apps for free. Regularly priced from $4.99 to $9.99, this is a great deal. Available for iPhone and Android.

National Geographic has developed app guides for the 20 most visited national parks, priced at $1.99 each. These are useful for advance trip planning and has a critical mass of current details and useful links in one place, along with the latest weather and statistics on the parks. Available for iOS only.

Closer to home, I’m blessed to live just a few blocks from San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. The GGP Field Guide app, created by the California Academy of Sciences, is the perfect tool to explore the park beyond the common trails. It highlights family friendly scavenger hunts and recent plant and animal sightings. The free app is currently only available for iOS devices.

These are a few of my favorite options to bring tech into the outdoors. What are yours? Or are you able, unlike me, to leave your tech at home?

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