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The Best Overlanding Apps

Our cell phones have made trip planning and navigating much easier and more efficient. Gone are the days of having crumpled maps in your glove compartment and stopping at rest stops to collect all the local literature you can carry. As the saying goes… “there’s an app for that”.

However, just as a lack of information 30 years ago may ruin a road trip, having too much information today can do the same. We’re here to help separate the good from the not-so-good. Without further delay, below are a few of our favorite Overlanding apps. Let us know in the comments if we missed one of your favorites.

Gaia GPS

Gaia GPS is for Overlanding what Google Maps is for driving the highways. If you’re one of those folks who snaps a photo of the trail map at the trailhead for reference and then try to interpret or zoom in on it while driving, Gaia GPS is for you.

Gaia GPS features the most comprehensive and detailed maps of any app to date. With the whole line of National Geographic Trails Illustrated Maps included, you can travel off-road with confidence knowing you have the most up-to-date information at your fingertips.

Access to exclusive specialty maps is another essential feature of the Gaia GPS app. For example, you’ll need dependable cell coverage to get the most out of the apps on our list. When trying to figure out what you’ll need to download for out-of-service use, Gaia’s Coverage Maps will come in handy. Similarly, Apple CarPlay Maps may take you to the exact start of your route, not simply the general area.

Consider purchasing a basic or premium subscription ($17 and $36 per year, respectively) to get the most out of Gaia GPS. If you’re not ready to pay for a subscription just yet, the free edition is still an excellent planning tool for finding trails, scheduling vacations, and navigating with confidence.

So, if you’re thinking about investing in a high-end GPS device, put those plans on hold for now and give Gaia GPS a try.

iOverlander

iOverlander is an app created by and for Overlanders. It’s essentially a must-have tool for adventurers looking for off-the-beaten-path destinations. By simply using certain criteria to zero in on what kind of camping you’re seeking to do, and what facilities you believe you’ll need, you can find just about anything that can be classified as a campground – whether established or just a nice place to set up camp. In addition, the app can assist you in finding nearby water/propane tank filling facilities, gas stations, border checks, and more to take the guesswork out of your journey.

The user contributions, however, are iOverlander’s strength. To assist you in making your decision, look at images, honest reviews, and ratings from veteran Overlanders. After all, while looking for that less-traveled path, it can be helpful to have a recommendation from a seasoned traveler.

iOverlander, unlike some of the other adventure apps on this list, is completely free — and its creators hope to keep it that way. An enormous community supports this app by entering up-to-date data on trail conditions, road closures, new camping spots and any other additional information you might need. While donations are welcome, the best way to help this program is to provide your own data so that others can benefit from your experience.

Recreation.gov

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better resource than the Recreation.gov app if you want to add more stamps to your National Park Passport. It’s the official reservation system for the National Parks in the United States.

Enter your travel dates to see how simple it is to book your ideal campsite. You may search for sites in real-time around the country and compare locations, pricing, and amenities to find the perfect area to set up camp before the sun goes down.

And what about those spur-of-the-moment excursions? Stake your claim immediately from the app by scanning the QR code located at open campgrounds. There’s no need to wrack your brain trying to remember the details of that wonderful campground you stayed at three years ago because the app maintains track of when and where you visited.

Plus, you can coordinate your entire travel plans by locating and purchasing tickets to all of the top attractions. Recreation.gov allows you to view and schedule events right from your phone, whether it’s a guided walkthrough, historic landmark tour, or exciting cave excursion.

Remove the need to pay cash or write checks to drop in fee boxes by keeping your payment information directly on the app. If cell signal is an issue, the simple Scan & Pay option lets you settle up once you’re back in civilization.

The Dyrt/Dyrt Pro

We recommend checking out The Dyrt app for a more in-depth look at possible lodging options. The easy-to-use software scans over 44,000 (and increasing) campsites, including cabins, tent sites, RV-capable spaces, and even yurts, while the helpful lodging finder functions provide a detailed description for each site, including availability, facility layout, photographs, and reservation contact information. Every day, new destinations are becoming available for direct booking through the app. We’re convinced you’ll find the most honest and authentic customer evaluations because it’s a third-party application.

While upgrading to The Dyrt Pro may not be the ideal choice for once-a-year voyagers, it may pay off for frequent travelers. The Dyrt Pro, which costs $35.99 a year, comes with a few extra features that aren’t available in the free version.

To begin, you’ll save up to 40% at hundreds of campgrounds around the United States, including Alaska and Hawaii. If you’re interested, you’ll also be able to get discounts on RVs and campers. Additionally, rounding out the benefits, you can save money on select gear and food from a growing number of vendors.

With a Dyrt Pro subscription, you’ll also get access to a premium Trip Planner tool, which lets you plan your route and stops based on driving distance, location, and vehicle type. The Dyrt Pro also includes map and itinerary downloads. That’s a great feature that we’ve all hoped for at some point. This way, you’ll be prepared if your vacation takes you deep into the cell service void.

iNaturalist

We’re thinking that if you’ve found your way to this page, you’re interested in wildlife and the great outdoors. We’ve all experienced an element of nature we can’t identify. If you can’t tell a Honey Locust from a Black Locust or if you wonder if the snake that crossed your path is venomous, the iNaturalist app can help you out. While it won’t turn you into the next Charles Darwin or Jane Goodall, it will assist you in recognizing any unknown plants or animals you come across on the trail.

The California Academy of Sciences and The National Geographic Society collaborated to create iNaturalist to assist everyone – from seasoned zoologists to biologically clueless travelers – put a name to what they observe. Simply create an account, then the next time you see something unfamiliar, snap a photo and report it. iNaturalist will suggest what it could be.

iNaturalist and its members have most certainly seen and identified what you’re looking at 100 times over, with approximately 3.7 million users, 60 million contributions, and 325,000+ distinct species cataloged. If you’re still unsure about the app’s suggestions, you can always share your snapshot with other members – including a large pool of specialists – to double-check your findings.

Your images and locations will be saved in your own account, allowing you to go back and review when and where you observed something. You can also view what other ‘Citizen Scientists’ in your region are seeing, and create or contribute to projects that will assist scientists all over the world identify and use the information from your own activities.

We’re sure we’ve only scratched the surface when it comes to apps that would be useful for Overlanders. Please let us know in the comments if we have missed one of your favorites.

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