Summer is a great time to explore outside, but sometimes one needs a little help picking the right spot to nature it up. No matter how you like to recreate in the great outdoors, there is an app or a website to help you find your new favorite outdoor adventure spot. Below are some of our favorite techno-tools we use to help us in the planning phase of our own adventures. Check out our list and get to planning; we’ll see you on the trail.
Hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners rejoice! The AllTrails app and website make it easy to find a new trail near you for free. This nifty platform contains information on 50,000 trails so you’ll never be bored. People who enjoy “off-road recreation,” as the website calls it, can create a free account that gives access to trail maps, driving directions, elevation gain, and reviews from other users.
If a user upgrades to AllTrails pro for either $2.50 a month or $99.99 for life, this gives them access to downloadable trail maps and map layers that offer insight to weather conditions in real time. Trails are searchable from a map, a search bar, or by trail features. One of the most useful features of this platform is that base layers of the trail maps are topographic so you’ll have a vague idea of what you’re in store for elevation-wise. Additionally, the active user base generates a lot of useful comments, tips, and reviews for trails.
Based out of Portland, OR, The Dyrt is a local dandy. While this platform may not have all the bells and whistles of some of the other platforms, the less-is-more vibe and free access is definitely appreciated. Users can search for campgrounds by name or by state. Searching by state takes you to a map with pins on all the campsites in an area. Once you find a campsite you’re interested in, the platform offers user-uploaded photos, reviews, campsite features, current weather conditions and driving directions. This platform has a Yelp-like feel since users can comment and check in to places to receive badges and prizes. Gear junkies will also like this platform because there are “Ranger Reviews” where contributors will review gear after testing it out in the field.
Anyone who enjoys outdoor recreation will tell you that planning an adventure is a lot of work and the folks at Outdoor Project hear you loud and clear. Outdoor project is a free community-based platform that is full of resources for all parts of your trip. From the initial “Where should we go?” to the “You’ll never believe how awesome a trail that was!” this platform has it all.
Users are able to search for inspiration using a map or a list, filtered by activity or features. Each listing on Outdoor project has a synopsis written by a contributor, current weather conditions, driving directions, maps and basic stats on the trip such as elevation gain or best time the year to visit. Anyone is able to join as a community member with an email address to leave reviews. In addition to being able to leave comments, members are able to download handy information sheets for trips. Beyond bringing all these great resources together in one place, the Outdoor Project supports other nonprofits that are doing work in conservation and outdoor education.
Hipcamp is the AirB&B of camping. Hosts are able to rent out their private property for people to reserve and camp on. There are also a number of yurts, tiny cabins, and tree houses available for rent as well. Similar to the other platforms users are able to create free accounts to reserve sites or can upgrade to a premium account which gives access to more features.
There is a cute quiz that users can take to determine their “camping personality.” After telling the quiz what outdoor recreation you enjoy and what features are most important, the platform gives you campsite suggestions based on the results. As far as campsites go, the offerings on Hipcamp can be a little on the spendy side. However, if you are looking to try something different (yurt weekend anyone?) or stay away from a crowded campground but still have plenty of amenities and comforts this platform will do the trick.
By far the least flashy website of the bunch, it can’t go unmentioned. Many campgrounds in National Forests require a reservation, which you can make at this website. Campgrounds and trailheads are searchable by name or by state. Similar to other sites, the state view will take you to a map where you can zoom in to a particular area and find a place to lay your head on the ground. Once a free account is created, users are able to create reservations at campsites or register for areas where backcountry permits are granted on a lottery basis. A quick note on camping in National Forests: Always be sure to check the website of the National Forest you plan on visiting before you go. The Forest Service website will provide important information about fire restrictions, road access and more.
By Erica Johnson