Maybe you want to travel through one of Wyoming’s national parks, visit a state park or identify that flower you keep seeing on the highway. Or maybe you want to know the weather, look up a restaurant in Jackson or find a quick map to the Bighorn National Forest.
A decade ago, you would have bought the books and maps to find that information and stacked them around your house. Today, you can download the apps.
Smartphone applications, or apps for short, aren’t new to the world. Teens, college students and professionals have been designing apps to make our lives easier, or maybe just more entertaining, for years.
But they haven’t always focused on the Cowboy State. Government agencies and private businesses are trying to change that focus.
“We wanted to lead people with where they are, which is their phones and their interests,” said Story Clark, founder and CEO of TravelStorysGPS a Wilson-based company creating tours of Wyoming.
Reception can still be spotty in most of the state, making apps that require cell service a little trickier. Many apps now, including those by TravelStorysGPS, have information users can download in an area with reception and use later regardless of coverage.
Grand Teton National Park now has an app offering history, hikes, maps and wildflower information.
Victoria Mates, chief of interpretation and partnerships at the park said about half of the visitors like the connection from technology to nature and half don’t want any technology. But the number of people using apps is certainly increasing.
If you’re looking for detailed information on plants or birds, for example, a guidebook might still be the way to go. But if you want easy information at the swipe of your finger, here are a handful of apps to help. All are available on iOS and Android unless otherwise noted.
- TravelStorysGPS: Featuring tours, stories, photos and audio, this Jackson-area based app recently expanded to other parts of the state. It offers tours around the Jackson area and has a new app to be released by the end of July on American Indian wars. Look for another on trona mines in southwest Wyoming by mid-August along with a new version of the app. Tours can be downloaded and listened to later in areas without coverage. The narrator talks to you while you look. Free.
- Grand Teton National Park & Jackson Hole: This app’s purpose is simple, offering a trail guide and basic information such as lodging, restaurants, photos and recreation possibilities in the palm of your hand. It also allows users to download information to access in areas without cell service. $2.99 or free with in-app purchases. Not available on Android.
- Yellowstone Outdoors: Use this as your all-encompassing guide to the greater Yellowstone area. The app says it includes information on “more than 1,500 attractions, activities and services,” by combining websites, maps, travel publications and local knowledge. Created in partnership with the Yellowstone Park foundation, the app was updated in June. Some maps are available offline. Free
- GoExplore WYOMING!: Try this app for one of the best guides to the entire state and Yellowstone National Park, including dining, shopping, real estate, recreation, wildlife and viewscapes. Created by Burgess Design Group out of Sheridan, the app also provides video and audio, tours, GPS triggering and access to downloaded information in areas without service. Free.
- Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites & Trails Outdoor Guide Pocket Ranger: Look to this app for an all-inclusive guide to Wyoming’s state parks. It offers maps of facilities, trails and campgrounds available offline, as well as information and advisories on closures or weather. Free.