I know what you’re thinking. “Best apps? But this is my time to unplug!” There’s a way to experience the power of a digital detox while occasionally using a few apps to be more efficient and get the most out of your trip. Whether that’s figuring out where your next hike will start or answering your “what’s that peak called?” questions, these apps have you covered. So here are some of our favorite apps that will help you get lost in the adventure without getting lost in the Rocky Mountains. Did I mention they’re all free to download?
National Park Service App
The newest addition to the list, the NPS released their app over National Park Week in late April 2021 that includes guides to all of the National Parks. You can build your own personal adventure by favoriting specific hikes, locations, campgrounds etc. The app is also available for you to download resources ahead of time, so when you venture into remote areas, the app will still have your back.
This app is guaranteed to make your experience run much smoother. This is your best chance to find a parking spot in town so that you’re not aimlessly circling parking lot after parking lot. Once you find a spot on the app, hit "take me there" to get directions so that you can grab the spot in real life.
Rocky Mountain Channel
This all-encompassing app is your video guide to Estes Park. Find all the best stops for shopping, dining and local activities. Need to narrow it down to the perfect restaurant? You can take a look inside through this app’s short, captivating videos. Other sections include favorite hikes in Rocky, a podcast featuring tips from experts, and the local weather (the weather here can change in a heartbeat).
Hiking project is your encyclopedia to all the best hikes near you, wherever you are. This app offers you suggestions about the best-featured hikes in the area and local experts show you the highlights, challenges and everything else you need to know in order to tackle the hike. However, these featured hikes tend to be pretty busy so if you use the sort filters you might come across a hidden gem. And the best part - if you download the state info ahead of time, no cell reception is required!
Hiking Project’s sibling, Mountain Project, is your go-to resource for rock climbing. This app not only helps you navigate to the area, but it also helps you find the route once you’re there. You can sort routes by discipline, difficulty and star ranking, even offline if you’re on top of the game and download beforehand. You can ask questions and call out for a partner in the forum. The options are endless, and there’s not much else you would need for your next climbing adventure, other than a rope of course (unless you’re Alex Honnold). Plus, just like Hiking Project, if you download the state info ahead of time you can access it all offline.
Because it’s nice to know what you’re looking at. And because Augmented Reality seems like magic, so it’s just fun. While AR feels very complicated, using Peak Visor is not. All you do is point the camera to the mountain in front of you and it’ll tell you all the information ranging from its name to its height. This app is also available offline and is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts who are always eager to learn more. I challenge you to try and find a peak that this app can’t name.
Rocky Mountain Field Guide
This one can turn your trip into a fun game of “how many species can I identify?” This interactive guide features over 50 plants and animals found in the park including amphibians, birds, fish, insects, mammals, reptiles, wildflowers, trees, shrubs, and more.
This app turns your phone into a GPS audio tour guide for your drive around Rocky Mountain National Park. This guide will tell you what you’re seeing based on your GPS location, why you’d want to go left or right while giving you notes on wildlife, geology, history and people. This app gives you more time to look up instead of digging your nose into a 100-page guidebook.
Just Ahead for Google
I think most everyone has heard of this audio streaming app. But did you know that we have a curated playlist just for you and your trip to Estes? This 90-minute jam session is coincidentally the same amount of time it takes to drive from the Denver airport to Estes Park. It’s full of Colorado musicians, Colorado themed songs and some classic feel-good mountain tunes that’ll fuel your excitement while you drive through the canyon. Starting listening here.
While we know you’ll have fun no matter what, these tools could help you become the ultimate Estes Park traveler. Traveling is all about interrupting your day to day routine and possibly trying something new. Even if you’ve been to Estes hundreds of times, these apps might give you a run for your money with what you have yet to explore or learn.