National Park App Maker Back With Better, Free Offer

Last 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’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]

‘Twilight’ Film Debut Brings Travelers From Around The World

Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2″ opens worldwide on November 16 and fans of the series have some unique options for getting excited about the final installment. Fan clubs, cinemas and tour operators from around the world are offering special events, viewings and even a chance to be on the red carpet with the stars of the film.

In theaters-
Across the country and around the world, theaters have different versions of a Twilight Saga Marathon, showing all five films. In Seattle, not far from Forks, Washington, where the story originates, Regal Cinemas has a special deal: a $15 marathon package that gets loyalty club members the entire saga from the first episode, ending with the 10 p.m. showing of “Breaking Dawn Part 2.”

Live and in person-
The Los Angeles debut of the film brings a red carpet event and Film Independent, the nonprofit arts organization that produces the Film Independent Spirit Awards and Los Angeles Film Festival, has a once in a lifetime experience, which they are auctioning off as a VIP package for the world premiere of “Breaking Dawn Part 2.” The winner will get four tickets to the world premiere on November 12.

Starting with a pre-reception with the film’s director Bill Condon along with Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner and other actors from the film, the winner and three guests then go to the Nokia Theatre where VIP seats await for the world premiere, followed by an after party with the cast.

Fans can bid on the package between now and November 7, 2012. At last look, the bid stood at $6000.

Remote but personal-
Can’t make it to the premiere anyway? Yahoo! will exclusively Livestream the world premiere on Monday, November 12, starting at 8:30 Eastern time. That streaming video will no doubt be the backdrop for “Breaking Dawn” premiere parties held around the world.

Partygoers attending will watch previous installments of the series and play games like Name That Vampire, enjoy syringe blood shots or try special Twilight treats like Werewolf Kibble and Vampire Bites.

Coming from around the planet-
Interest in the “Twilight Saga” is worldwide and the vacation planners at Tour America in Dublin have suggestions for fans of the series that visit the places where the movie was filmed.

One idea is to fly into Seattle for a three-night stay in the Warwick Seattle Hotel, in the heart of the city. Pick up a car and head west towards Port Angeles, a coastal town with access to “Twilight” locations including Bella Italia, the restaurant where Edward and Bella had their first date.

Another idea puts visitors at The Quality Inn Uptown, which has views both of Port Angeles harbor and Olympic National Park where the National Park Service cares for mountain vistas, meadows of wildflowers, colorful ocean tide pools and some of the largest remnants of ancient forests left in the country, not far from the town of Forks.

Win a trip to Italy-
To celebrate the conclusion of the “Twilight” series, our friends at AOL’s Moviefone and Summit Entertainment are giving away an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy, one of the locations on the Cullen’s global quest.

The winner gets a six-day stay in “Lo Stivale.” To enter, like Moviefone’s Facebook page and leave your name and email on the “Breaking Dawn” tab.

To date, the Twilight franchise has grossed over $2.5 billion in worldwide box office. Since the 2005 release of the first novel in the series, Twilight, the books have sold over 100 million copies worldwide with translations into over 30 different languages.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Eva Rinaldi Celebrity and Live Music Photographer]

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Photo Of The Day: Sunset Race Track

This Photo of the Day comes from Gadling Flickr pool member oilfighter, taken in Olympic National Park and is titled “Sunset Race Track.”

Of the image, oilfighter tells us:

“I saw a picture of this location years ago, but didn’t know where it was taken. As I was researching Olympic National Park, I saw the picture again. I was thrilled! Little did I know how far it is, and how long it would take to get there.

This is called Shi Shi Beach, and it’s a long drive from just about anywhere in the park. After the drive, there is the 8 miles round-trip hike, through jungle, mud, and sandy beach.

To see the fins, you also need to have low tide, and I’ve been told that sometimes sand will wash up, and cover the fins. I waited and waited, till one day, the coastal fog was minimal, and the low tide will occur during sunset.

The first mile of the hike was easy, and I was cruising at a good pace, then the mud came … The muddy section of the trail was no joke. It’s about 1 mile long, and absolutely wet and dirty.” Read more…

Upload your best shots to the Gadling Group Pool on Flickr. Several times a week we choose our favorite images from the pool as Photos of the Day.

Tips for getting featured: Include the camera you used along with any other equipment or processing software used that might help other photographers know more about your image. Also, captions mean a lot. As you can see, oilfighter, takes time to add details that help us appreciate his efforts.

Largest dam removal in U.S. history begins at Olympic National Park

This weekend the largest dam removal project in U.S. history will begin on the Elwha River in Olympic National Park, located in the state of Washington. The three-year process to dismantle both the Elwha and Glines Canyon dams will free the river for the first time in nearly a century and is expected to have a restorative effect on the park’s ecosystem, as well as an economic impact on the surrounding communities.

According to the National Parks Conservation Association, the removal of the two dams is expected to boost the salmon population in the river from an estimated 3000 now to nearly 400,000 once the project is complete. Researchers believe that they’ll see the return of all five species of Pacific salmon to the river, as native species return to their previous habitats. Those fish provide important nutrients and resources for more than 130 species of both aquatic and terrestrial wildlife in the region, including other fish, bears, and eagles. Those populations are expected to thrive as well, once the salmon numbers increase to their natural levels.

The benefits to the region don’t end there however, as the removal of the dams is also expected to bring new economic opportunities as well. The dramatic increase in fish populations should lure in both sport and commercial fishermen, and the newly opened 70-mile river corridor will offer fantastic paddling too. The NPCA estimates that the Elwha River restoration project could bring as many as 500,000 new visitors to the area on an annual basis, translating into an additional $57 million per year in the local economy.

As the dam removal process gets underway, conservationists and fans of the national parks have kicked off an official dam-breaking festival known as Celebrate Elwha. Over the next few days, the festival will host a number of music and art events, as well as several guest speakers, as the Park Service, the NPCA, and the community celebrate this important step towards restoring the natural environment at Olympic.

This is such an important move in creating a healthier environment in the park and the wilderness around it. I applaud everyone involved in getting these dams removed and opening up the river once again. If you’ve ever visited the Elwha River valley in the past, you will definitely want to schedule a return trip in a few years time, as it is likely to be a very different place in the years ahead.

Storm watchers invited to experience La Niña at Olympic National Park

Long range weather forecasts indicate that we can expect La Niña to have a direct impact on our weather patterns in the months ahead. That powerful natural force tends to sit off the west coast, causing pacific water temperatures to drop while creating storms that can dump rain and snow on large parts of the U.S.

For many of us, the mere thought of these storms is enough to send us scrambling for dryer and warmer conditions, but for adventure travelers and storm watchers, the thought of catching La Niña in her full fury is an opportunity that is often too good to miss.

To help facilitate that, the Kalaloch Lodge, located in Olympic National Park, is offering a Storm Watchers Package that is available now through March 12, 2011, which is when the weather phenomenon is expected to start to fade. The package runs $149/night and includes lodging in a personal cabin located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The rate also includes breakfast for each person, a souvenir blanket with the Olympic National Park logo on it, and perhaps most importantly of all, rain ponchos for everyone as well. Additional nights can be added for just $99 each. Simply use the promo code STORM10 when booking.

Not to be outdone, the nearby Lake Quinault Lodge is offering a Storm Watchers Package of their own. This package is also available for the same dates as the Kalaloch Lodge and includes a warm and dry fireplace or lakeside room and a rainforest tour for two. The lush forests that surround Lake Quinault receive as much as 12 feet of precipitation between October and March each year, and experiencing those rains can be amazing for nature lovers. This package costs just $119/night and comes with the option of adding additional nights for $50 each. The promo code for this package is LQSTORM10.

So whether you want to experience the power of El Niña on the Pacific Coast or the storms she generates in the rainforest, Olympic National Park has you covered.