On our quest to explore all 41 North Carolina State Parks this year, we've discovered some really fun things. Towns we've never heard of. Enchanting ecosystems. Interesting historic sites. Wildlife (lots of snakes) and signs of wildlife (bear prints in the woods!). And, though we use these outings as a chance to unplug, we've also stumbled on a pretty cool app.
The North Carolina State Parks Guide by Pocket Ranger
puts a wealth of state park information at your fingertips.
This free app consolidates and organizes all the information you might find on the state parks website
– and more. While we've found it to be a little clunky at times, I do recommend the app for several useful features.
The most handy function for us has been the Explore button, which allows the user to search for a park (by proximity, name, available activities and region), then provides the most pertinent details on each. Categories of available park information include:
- A park overview
- Photo gallery
- Park alerts
- Operational times
- Contact information
- Trail descriptions
- Park map
- Educational opportunities and events
- Park history
- An ecological overview
Other features of the app include:
Park alerts, which provides a near real-time listing of closings and other changes to park and amenity status. (Note: The alert link under the News button seems to function better than the Alerts button on the homepage.)
A camping button that lists all overnight stay options by category (drive-to camping, trailer/RV, backpack sites, family cabins, etc.) Each category lists the parks and their specific amenities.
A GPS map on which you can record and save hikes, post “waypoint” pictures, and take pre-populated GPS tours.
A "follow" function that allows you and your friends to track each other's map location.
A weather function and built-in compass.
And, an alert feature that supplies GPS coordinates to designated contacts in case of an emergency.
Again, some parts of this app works better and more reliably than others. But it is a handy resource and I'm glad to have discovered it. I'm sure we'll continue to use it as we work toward our goal -- and beyond.