Best Apps for Traveling to the Mountains

An iPhone app is like a potato chip. “You always want to have just one more,” says Chris Hall, editor in chief of

A few months ago, I wrote about several iPhone/iPad apps that were specific to the Smoky Mountain area. Today, I thought we’d look at more general apps that are helpful for travel and would work well for the Smoky Mountain area. Here are several that are getting good reviews, along with a personal favorite:

Bug Repellent

  • Cost: $.99
  • Recommended by: Hiking Boots Blog
  • Description: “Keep pesky mosquitoes and other insects far away with five different high-pitch frequencies. The noise continues to play after you lock your device.”
  • CC.Com Says: Can you believe this really works? I found it on three different lists, so I think it’s the real deal. So weird.


  • Cost: free
  • Recommended by: The Adventure Journal
  • Description: “Turns your screen white. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of this. Also gives you red (great for stargazing), green, blue, black (huh?), custom color, all of which can be brightened or dimmed.”
  • CC.Com Says: I love this! But I will have to keep it away from my kids. They will think it’s the neatest thing and will kill my battery hiding in the closet.

iBird Pro

  • Cost: $29.99
  • Recommended by: Hiking Boots Blog
  • Description: “While there are plenty of other bird apps out there, iBird Pro includes the most species (924 to be exact) as well as photos, drawings and the highest iTunes Store rating. It’s also frequently updated to give you the latest bird info.”
  • CC.Com Says: At first the cost seems high, but when you think of it like a very detailed book that you can take along in your pocket and is updated regularly, it seems more reasonable. If you really like birds.

Motion-X GPS Lite

  • Cost: free
  • Recommended by: The Adventure Journal
  • Description: “There are dozens of apps that use the iPhone’s GPS to record speed, distance, routes, waypoints, and all those other navigatory geekimetrics. But every time I use one, I feel like a doofus. Why carry the weight and risk the damage? But if you are gonna do that, here’s your pick: MXGPS seems the most accurate of all the trail apps and plots pace, too. You can set waypoints and navigate back to them. And there’s even a rudimentary map feature–it shows your track, but not terrain or streets.”
  • CC.Com Says: I’d like to know how fast I hike. Or, more likely, how slowly I hike.


  • Cost: $6.99
  • Recommended by: Hiking Boots Blog
  • Description: “This comprehensive guide to animal track identification contains a database of 43 animals — from weasels to the largest grizzly bears. It will help you identify tracks and animals by their appearance including color and gait.”
  • CC.Com Says: I love this idea! Take an average hike and turn it into a science field trip for the kids!

National Park Maps HD

  • Cost: $4.99
  • Recommended by: Sherman’s Travel
  • Description: “Gain access to high-resolution trail maps in 15 different national parks across the country, including The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite. Using this app will help you pre-plan your trip, mark out points of interest within the parks, and, best of all, pinpoint your exact location on the map so you can avoid unnecessary detours.”
  • CC.Com Says: This seems similar to some of the Smoky Mountain apps we reviewed before. But this one is for several different parks, so it’s more useful to a serious national park hiker.

Packing Pro

  • Cost: $3.99
  • Recommended by: Travel and Leisure Magazine
  • Description: “Even the most experienced traveler sometimes forgets a mobile phone charger or a hair dryer. Packing Pro asks you to set up a few lists of must-dos and must-haves for the various types of trips you take. The next time you go somewhere, just check off each task, from stopping newspaper delivery to packing your prescriptions, as you prepare to leave. If you’re not in the mood to customize your chore list, an assortment of templates are tailored to women or men, kids or no kids (and how many), where you’re going, and for how long.
  • CC.Com Says: Okay, I like the idea of the packing lists, but I LOVE the tasks to do before you leave home. I ALWAYS forget last-minute preparations.

Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association

  • Cost: $3.99
  • Recommended by: The Next Web
  • Description: “If you prefer backpacking to jetsetting, the Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association may just save your life. In fact, it did help save a life in Haiti. Remember Dan Woolley, who survived 65 hours under rubble? He used this application. Check out the story here. The app includes video, text and pictures of CPR instructions, 12 Emergency Quick Reference Articles, first aid procedures, instructions on choking, bites, bruises, burns, seizures, diabetic emergencies, etc., and the ability to save and e-mail your medical profile.”
  • CC.Com Says: Here’s hoping you’d never need it. But it’s good to be safe, if you’ll be on long hiking trips. I have one friend, in particular, that would love this app!

Road Trip Bingo

  • Cost: $2 (so worth it!)
  • Recommended by: MSNBC
  • Description: “When I Spy has lost its appeal half an hour into the drive, enlist RoadTripBingo to entertain your junior crew through even the dullest stretches of highway. There are thousands of 25-square grids to play, with targets both ordinary (a hotel) and more obscure (a cactus). Even kids too young to grasp the game will get a kick out of tapping the icons and shaking the screen clear.”
  • CC.Com Says: Our kids have the old-fashioned car bingo cards, but how much more fun is it to be able to switch it up? This is the first legitimate answer I’ve heard to the question, “Why does every member of the family need to have an iPhone?” :)

Sit or Squat

  • Cost: free
  • Recommended by: Travel and Leisure Magazine
  • Description: “It’s like Zagat’s for potty breaks. Charmin sponsors this user-maintained database of where to find the nearest free toilet based on your location. We especially like the photos of the actual john and the piquant review blurbs (‘the air freshener is overpowering, which I think is a good thing’). As with the best apps, this one’s useful for everyday life in your home city too.”
  • CC.Com Says: If you have kids, you know why you need this. Enough said.

Survival Guide

  • Cost: free
  • Recommended by:!
  • Description: “This app is put out by the U.S. Military. It contains very serious (okay, kind-of scarily serious) information about basic survival. Categories of info include: Psychology of Survival; Survival Planning and Kits; Basic Survival Medicine; Shelters; Water Procurement; Firecraft; etc. Reads like a book, but it’s a free book, so that’s something!”
  • CC.Com Says: We recommended it, so we don’t have anything to add. But I can sure see some people getting geeked up about this.


  • Cost: free
  • Recommended by: MSNBC
  • Description: “Forget paging through printouts of confirmation codes and terminal info. The TripIt travel app culls flight numbers, gate information, and even loyalty-program account numbers from e-mail receipts you forward. From these, it assembles a master trip itinerary you can access from anywhere.”
  • CC.Com Says: Oh, we are SO the kind of peole who need this!



  • Cost: free
  • Recommended by: The Next Web
  • Description: “Waze launched in September 2009 as a social driving and navigation app that connects drivers by crowdsourcing nearly real-time road information like traffic, construction hazards and police information from other ‘Wazers’ and Twitter. The updated app includes intelligent voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation, Facebook and Foursquare integration and a contribution scoreboard to increase user participation. While using your phone’s GPS can dramatically decrease battery life, the app automatically turns off after 10 minutes of idle time.”
  • CC.Com Says: Real-time road info is always helpful!

What are your favorite travel apps? We’d love to try some new ones!

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