How to Use the National Park Service’s First-Ever App to Explore the Outdoors

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"Ready to go exploring? Here's everything you need to know about the National Park Service app."

Encompassing over 84 million acres throughout 423 sites, getting outside to enjoy America’s national parks can seem daunting. But a new app released by the National Park Service (NPS) just made visiting any of their sites—from Yosemite to the Jefferson Memorial—a little easier.

Park visitors will no longer need to download individual apps for each location. Instead, this app includes information about every park, all in one place. That means there’s not just 14,000-foot mountains to explore. There are also sites located in urban environments, from local parks to historical monuments.

national park service app

What the National Park Service App Includes

After downloading the free National Park Service app from the App Store or Google Play, you’ll see it gives you access to a wide variety of useful features. Here are a handful to get excited about:

1. Interactive Maps

Each national park has a super-detailed interactive map you can use. It includes points of interest, trails, and everything else you’ll need to make every trip a great one.

2. Park Tours

This app has self-guided tours that allow you to see all the interesting places in the park, from well-known spots to cool areas off the beaten path. According to the app, it’s like “having a ranger by your side to guide your trip, giving you suggestions for places to go, directions to get there, and things to do once you arrive.”

3. Amenities

Ever get stuck at a park with no idea where the closest bathroom is? The app makes it easy to find everything you need during your trip, including restrooms, food, transportation, shopping, and more.

4. Accessibility

The National Park Service app allows for a fully accessible experience with access to tools like audio descriptions, allowing you to enjoy exhibits along trails, roads, and in visitor centers.

5. Offline Use

Knowing that cell service is limited in the vast majority of parkland, the outdoor experts who created the app included the ability to download maps and other content for offline use—a potential life-saver.

How to Use the National Park Service App

national park service app

First, download the app. Then tap on the “Find a Park” button to search for parks by state, name, activity, or topic. You can also tap “parks near me” to see what’s nearby.

Once you find a park you want to visit, add it to your favorites list by tapping the star button on the park page. That’s also where you can save the park for offline use. After it downloads, you’ll be able to use all the park information—including self-guided tours and maps—wherever you are.

Another fun feature on the National Park Service app is that you can create lists. You could make one for your summer road trip, one for parks within driving distance, and one parks on your bucket list—whatever you want.

Curious about a zero waste lifestyle? Want to know what the “circular economy” really means? Subscribe to Brightly’s top-rated podcast, Good Together. Every 30-minute episode features daily, actionable tips to help you live your life more sustainably.

Ready to go exploring? Here's everything you need to know about the National Park Service app.

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