National Park App Maker Back With Better, Free Offer

national parkLast year, in celebration of National Park Week, Chimani Apps gave away their suite of National Park apps. Normally, the apps sell for between $4.99-$9.99 each with an average rating of 4 1/2 stars, but the company gave away one million downloads. Now, Chimani is back with five new national park apps that feature an augmented reality viewer, crowd-sourced maps and a social sharing tool enabled with Near Field Communications (NFC) technology. Better yet, they are all free.

“Chimani users are now able to actively contribute to the national park community and help build better geo-spatial data for each of the parks,” said Kerry Gallivan CEO/Co-Founder in a NationalParksOnline article.

The company is releasing a new app on each of the five days of National Park Week. New parks added are Grand Teton National Park, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and Bryce Canyon National Park. These, and all other Chimani apps, will be available for free starting Monday, April 22.

The apps have constantly updated maps, event schedules, points of interest, hiking details, as well as sunset and sunrise times for scenic overlooks. Users can access tide schedules along the coast, review lodging options and more on the apps, all designed to work without a cellphone signal.

We like that Chimani does not just throw their apps out there and hope for the best. Their users actively contribute to the national park community by helping build better geo-spatial data for each of the parks.

“A great example of this is Openstreetmaps.org’s user Tomthepom who spent the winter meticulously editing the park data within Grand Canyon. Thanks to Tom, the data found within the Chimani maps is the most detailed and up-to-date available anywhere – digital or print,” said Gallivan.

The Chimani apps are available for the iPhone, iPad, Amazon Kindle and Android devices. They can be downloaded directly from Apple’s iTunes App Store, Google Play and Amazon AppStore.


[Photo credit – Flickr user Dark_muse]

National Park Week Begins Tomorrow!

National Park Week begins tomorrow!The National Park Service and the National Park Foundation will kick off their annual spring celebration of the parks tomorrow, as National Park Week officially gets under way. The event will run from April 20-28 and will feature a number of special activities throughout the parks, including free entry Monday through Friday of next week.

The national parks have long been favorite destinations for travelers who enjoy exploring the natural and historical settings that have earned the designation. All told, here are 401 total units that have been given the title of national park, monument, memorial, historic site or recreation area. They represent more than 17,000 miles of trails and 12,000 campsites spread out over a combined 84 million acres. Each of them has something unique to offer visitors and many of them are free all year long. There are so many park units in fact that every American lives within 100 miles of some type of national park experience. To find one near you, check out the complete list of parks here.As a big fan of the parks – and what they have to offer travelers – I am a major supporter of National Park Week and anything else that acknowledges these amazing places. But I do have to take the Park Service to task for skimping out on the fee-free days this time around. While I love that they’re allowing anyone to enter the parks without having to pay Monday through Friday, couldn’t they have found it in their hearts to extend the fee-free days to one or both weekends as well? After all, school is still in session and the summer vacation season hasn’t started yet, so how many people are actually going to get the opportunity to take advantage of the free entry? Perhaps they simply don’t want to give up the funds they bring in on weekends in the face of budget issues due to sequestration. Considering the NPS may even start charging seniors more for their lifetime passes, we may actually be on to something.

Regardless, spring is a great time to visit the national parks as everything is starting to come alive. In Yellowstone it will soon by calving season for bison and elk, while the wildflowers are already in bloom in the Great Smoky Mountains. In Yosemite, the spring thaws will swell the numerous waterfalls that dot the landscape and in Death Valley the cooler weather makes for a more comfortable experience all around.

Enjoy National Park Week and be sure to take advantage of any opportunity to explore “America’s best idea.”

[Photo Credit: National Park Service]


Celebrate National Park Week: 5 Luxe Places You Can ‘Camp’ Sans Tent


yellowstone national park - national park week 2012

National Park Week has begun! Many travelers will be taking advantage of free access to our country’s best national parks but, if they’re anything like this writer, won’t want to sleep in a tent after.

So, instead of camping try “glamping” at some of these great hotels near national parks that let you enjoy nature without giving up your creature comfort – no camping required.

Four Seasons Resort Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Just minutes from Grand Teton National Park and a short drive from Yellowstone National Park, Four Seasons Jackson Hole offers a famed wildlife safari program, complete with an in-house wildlife biologist. Can’t make it during National Park Week? Enjoy special backstage access to these National Parks through the hotel’s summer packages.

Moonlight Basin, Montana
Located just 18 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Moonlight is surrounded by Montana’s spectacular Rocky Mountains. Moonlight Basin’s Mountain Concierge Team can plan experiences from rafting on the Gallatin River to fly-fishing adventures and more.

Estes Park, Colorado
As a gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, the year-old Della Terra Mountain Chateau is one of the area’s most luxe boutique properties.

Terranea Resort, California
This Destination Hotels & Resorts property located on the Southern California coast in Rancho Palos Verdes offers a unique starting point for exploration of Channel Islands National Park.

Travaasa Hana, Maui
The closest lodging to Haleakala National Park, filled with beautiful hikes through bamboo forests, past towering waterfalls and the famous “Pools of Ōheo.”

[Image courtesy of Yellowstone National Park]

Photographer visits all national parks in United States

Photographer visits all national parksQuang-Tuan Luong is thought to be the first person to have visited all of the national parks in the United States. But he did not just visit, he captured each one in photographs.These photos are so good they may prompt you to plan a trip to a national park.

Born in Paris to Vietnamese parents, Luong experienced his first national park as a rock climber in Yosemite then worked his way through all of the U.S. national parks, camping in remote areas with his 75-pound large-format camera.

Luong’s park photo’s, each 34″ X 43″, are on display in an exhibit titled “Treasured Lands” that runs through September 10 at The National Heritage Museum in Lexington, Mass. Open 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and noon to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission and parking are free. For information, call 781-861-6559 or go to nationalheritagemuseum.org.

During National Park Week April 16-24, which includes Earth Day on April 22, all 58 national parks are free, as well as 336 other National Park Service properties.

When a photographer visits all national parks and comes away with this collection of work, we wonder “Why didn’t anyone do this before?” Maybe because Luong spent 15 years going through all the parks to create his collection.

Photo courtesy National Heritage Museum

Related Stories