Photo by Kathleen O. Davis.

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From the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources, shared May 9:

Photo by Kathleen O. Davis.

RALEIGH – A free mobile phone application with comprehensive information about North Carolina’s state parks has been introduced by the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation in partnership with Friends of State Parks and ParksByNature Network, a developer of mobile, interactive networks.

The downloadable Pocket Ranger Mobile Tour Guide for Apple iPod and iPhone and Android smartphones allows visitors to plan and explore state parks with details about park locations, trails, facilities, reservations, events and special news alerts.

In addition, an upgraded “pro” version for iPod and iPhone offers GPS-aided, state-of-the-art navigation of state parks, storage of detailed topographic maps and enhanced interactive features. A similar upgraded version for Andrioid users is in development. A substantial portion of the annual subscription price for the upgraded versions will go to benefit the nonprofit Friends of State Parks.

“This mobile application fits our commitment to broaden the visitor experience in our 41 state parks and state recreation areas, and it captures the diversity and excitement of outdoor recreation in North Carolina,” said Lewis Ledford, director of the N.C. Division of Parks and Recreation. “The ParksByNature project is becoming the standard for state park mobile applications elsewhere in the nation and is a solid platform for further development of this technology.”

Once downloaded, the quick-search information in the Park Ranger Mobile Tour Guide is accessible to smartphone users even when cell phone service is unavailable. This includes official maps for parks and campgrounds plus details on natural features, activities, fees and regulations. A social networking tool allows users to share their state park experiences and photos in real time.

With the “pro” version and smartphone GPS technology, visitors can record hikes and mark waypoints, track plant and animal species, download maps and store them offline, keep track of friends and family members within a state park and send personal “alerts” to select contacts. A highlight is the ability to quickly share experiences with others on popular social media sites.

“We’re excited to be part of this project,” said David Pearson, president of Friends of State Parks. “Development of this app not only benefits park visitors but the state parks as well, since proceeds from the upgraded version go directly to develop education programs in the parks and toward efforts to protect our natural resources.”

The Pocket Ranger Mobile Tour Guide can be downloaded from the iTunes Store and Android’s Market – by searching NC State Parks or NC Pocket Ranger – or directly at www.officialstateparkapps.com. A YouTube tutorial is also available at http://www.youtube.com/user/PocketRangerApp.

Kathleen O'Nan

Kathleen O'Nan is a contributing reporter to Carolina Public Press.

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