This past week was National Parks week. I hit the road with the Ol’ Man and visited the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It was a great outing on a beautiful day. Nothing makes me feel more alive than spending an entire day breathing in fresh air.
As spring gets underway and the days grow longer, it is time to star thinking of what you will do this summer in order to take advantage of nature’s gift. Whether you take the family on a camping trip to the mountains, study local plant life in the hills behind your house, or simply fire up the grill and have a couple of brews with friends, we’ve got a list of our favorite apps for the great outdoors…
I personally use the government website whenever I am scouting new National parks to visit. I am a huge proponent of funding our protected forests and wildlife areas, and Recreation.gov is the perfect website for finding out about day use, camping, and event activities for Federal Recreation Areas. This app offers quick searches for campsites, National Forests, and nearby facilities. It features up-to-date information on campground and cabin availabilities for nearby parks, as well as the ability to make reservations online or by calling the reservation hotline. You can save campsites to your favorites list and have quick access to them for future planning. This app is available for free.
If you prefer to stay away from government-operated landmarks, or if you just want a bigger variety of campground options, this app offers nearly 25,000 campsite locations across the U.S. and Canada. Whether you are looking for State or Federal parks, KOA campsites, Military camps, Bureau of Land Management areas, or hike-in isolating tent spots, you’ll find what you are looking for with this ever-updating app. It also includes the location of nearby camping stores, RV rentals, low-clearance bridges, and Walmarts with overnight parking allowances. The app also stores information for offline viewing, so if you are deep in the woods when you need to find the nearest Camping World, you will still be able to see important information. This app is available for $9.99.
If you are already at your campsite, or just want to take a drive somewhere that is less populated by city lights, be sure to bring this amazing stargazing app with you. You’ll be able to identify any star in the night’s sky just by pointing your iPhone at it. You will also be able to learn about a planet’s size, distance from earth, gravity, and more. You can see constellations and their relative relationship to each other, learn about comets and asteroids, and really feel like an all-around astronomical kind of guy. This app is available for $2.99.
No matter where you are, or how busy you may be, there is always time for grilling. Weber makes the most popular brand of backyard grill on the market and the company’s branded recipe app offers 75 recipes for grilling up meats and veggies. It also includes more than 60 guides, tips, and techniques for making your meat sizzle. If you are in the market for a new grill, you can browse Weber’s catalog of products, including gas, electric, charcoal, and portable grills. The recipe guides contain full-color photos, grocery lists, in-app annotation, and the ability to share recipes with others. You can bookmark your favorite recipes for future grilling events, combine recipe shopping lists so that you don’t buy too much of the same thing, and learn important techniques for cooking steaks, fish, ribs, and more. This app is available for free.
Before you spend an evening looking at the stars, you can spend the afternoon looking at nature’s beautiful landscape. This informative app includes hundreds of entries for plants, birds, butterflies, and fish. You can download the Flower Identification tool and take your device offline to discover the flora and fauna right in your backyard. You can record your findings in the free Observation Diary and share your discoveries with others. The plant identifier comes free with the app, but a larger database can be added as an in-app purchase. The bird, fish, and butterfly identifiers are also available as in-app purchases. The bird section features audio samples of various bird calls. This app is available for free.
Whether you are camping in the mountains, taking a bike ride through your city, or stopping for fresh air on a road trip, this app will find you the nearest hiking trails. Choose from 40,000 different trails, including mountain biking, fly fishing, and snowshoeing. You can track your hike with your iPhone’s GPS tracker and view topographical maps for nearby trails. Write reviews of the trails you have visited for other AllTrails users to read. If you save trail maps to your iPhone ahead of time, you will be able to use them offline. This app is available for free.