There are so many national parks to fall in love with, how do you choose your favorite? I’ll tell you how: you don’t! Instead, discover a wide range of US National Parks and start experiencing them all today. I, a non-national parks USA expert, decided to do just that. I wanted to know everything there is to know about navigating the parks, so I went to the internet to research.
I thought I would give a few of them a try and was very pleasantly surprised by just how informative, helpful, and all around great these apps were. In fact, I had so much luck with them and I feel so much more informed now, that I wanted to share my favorite ones with you below!
Road to Hana GyPSy Drive Tour – Rating: 4.8, Downloads: 10K
Feel free to take my word for it, the Road to Hana is one of the most overwhelming and breathtaking drives you will ever experience in the national park system! It follows 65 miles of winding mountain roads through the Hawaiian island of Maui, which is gorgeous for scenery but not so much for cell service. Road to Hana GyPSy Drive Tour is a completely offline tour with maps of the route as well as interesting commentary on what exactly you’re seeing as you drive.
Just keep in mind that, while Road to Hana GyPSy Drive Tour does not need a cellular data signal to work, it does need a GPS signal and, depending on your phone’s settings, this may not always be stable. However, as long as you make sure you’re using the most accurate GPS settings possible, you’ll have a great time along the drive!
Pros: You can take a private, self-guided tour of the Road to Hana, no internet connection needed.
Cons: Requires a stable GPS connection to work properly.
Overall: Forget about crowds with a self-guided tour of one of the most beautiful drives on earth, just know that you will need a stable GPS connection to do it.
AllTrails – Rating: 4.7, Downloads: 1M
AllTrails is easy-to-use and helps you navigate the outdoors conveniently and effectively without getting lost along the way. You are able to record each and every hike, ride, or run while you follow trails on your mobile device. With more than 50,000 hand-curated maps that are crowd-sourced from millions of mountain bikers, trail runners, and hikers, you’ll find the perfect view for a selfie.
One of the best features, in my opinion, is that you can run the app in airplane mode so you can save precious battery power as you go.
With the free subscription, you won’t have access to National Geographic maps, but you can subscribe to AllTrails Pro for unlimited access to their library of maps, verified GPS routes, GPX export capability, and more. It has an easily searchable database of hiking trails across the United States, so it is a great tool for any road tripper looking to hit the trails in an unfamiliar area. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast or wannabe enthusiast like me, I’m confident you’ll love this app!
Pros: More than 50,000 trail maps for you to explore that are crowd-sourced so they’re constantly up-to-date.
Cons: You need to subscribe to the pro version of the app to access all maps.
Overall: With more than 50,000 trail maps available, you’ll always have somewhere new to visit, just know that you will have to pay for the premium subscription in order to access all available maps.
National Parks by Chimani – Rating: 4.1, Downloads: 100K
If hiking and exploring on foot are your preferences, National Parks by Chimani might be a better option for you. There are maps and interactive features for the entire US National Park system, including Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, Acadia National Park, and Sequoia National Park.
What’s so great about it is that you can easily explore all you wish and, since you can download everything for offline use, you’ll never have to worry about not having a cell signal. It also has a badge system that keeps track of the parks you’ve visited and those you have yet to explore, so you don’t have to keep track of this information by yourself.
In my experiences, users have expressed a lot of love for the badge feature, which allows you to collect badges for parks you’ve physically been to, but it can sometimes be tricky to get close enough to the listed coordinates for the badge to sync with your device. Not to worry, however, because there are so many other helpful features that I’m confident you’ll have a great time exploring while you make your way to those coordinates.
Pros: Accessible to people who like to explore national parks on foot, has badges for the parks you’ve been to, and creates a list of the parks you want to go to.
Cons: It can be difficult to reach the coordinates in order to collect a visitors badge.
Overall: Explorers will love the flexibility of being able to traverse the national parks on foot, just note that some of the badges can be difficult to collect because of their location in the park(s).
Who says the outdoors have to be daunting? I wanted to get over my fear of immersing myself in nature and get to exploring the national parks that I’ve learned to love so much. In the process of writing the article, I found a top 10 list of the best apps for national parks by a website called AppGrooves. I will include the link below so you can check more apps than the ones I listed.
With so much information now accessible to us on our mobile devices, on and offline, you’ll spend significantly less time stressing and more time enjoying all the breath-taking sights the US national parks have to offer. If you’ve been thinking of embracing the great outdoors, I highly suggest you give these apps a chance!