Best Travel Apps for Alaska

There are the obvious ones like the app for your airline or cruise ship, but this list is going to enhance your time in Denali itself!

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Our travel tools have evolved so much since the introduction of smartphones.  Long gone are the days of printing out Map Quest directions, but it’s not only our GPSs that have gotten better in the age of Apple and Android.  Today there is a virtual buffet of apps tailored specifically for the needs of the user.  A lot of these might not be the first place your mind goes to when you think about traveling to Alaska.  There are the obvious ones like the app for your airline or cruise ship, but this list is going to enhance your time in Denali itself! And the good news, is there’s only one thing on this list that will cost you anything, the rest are totally free.  Without further ado, lets dive it.

1.       PeakFinder: $4.99.  We figured we’d get the paid app out of the way first.  Don’t skip over it just yet though, because $4.99 is a steal for what this app can do, especially for those who are coming to Denali for the mountains.  The point of the app?  To tell you what mountains you’re looking at.  This might seem simple at first glance, but when you factor in that it functions offline, outlines the mountains in augmented reality, will allow you to zoom in and focus on a specific mountain, and share and export the images, you quickly realize the value is well worth it.  Take it with you outside of Alaska too, PeakFinder has more than 850,000 peaks worldwide in its database. Its available on both Apple and Android marketplaces and has a 4.7/5 review from almost 6.5k reviewers.  This will make your bus ride into the National Park, or ATV ride through the Alaska Range that much more memorable.

2.       AllTrails: Free.  If you’re a person who spends anytime hiking at all, you’ve probably heard of AllTrails.  There’s a good reason for that, seeing as how it’s been reviewed at 4.9/5 by over 600,000 people in the Apple marketplace, also making it the best rating of any of the apps we are talking about today.  This amazing app will use your location to tell you what trails are close to you, how to access them and what to expect.  You can build a free account that will track your hikes for you, tell your elevation game, average pace, and you can compare it to those who have passed through there before.  It’s also great for reading recent reviews.  Other users will keep you up to date on wash outs, trail closures, and tricky sections.  Each review is dated so you can see if those same problems are likely to affect you.  This will work offline too, so even in Denali’s most wild sections you’ll be able to record your adventure.  It’s available for both Apple and Android users and can also be accessed via your online browser.

3.       My Aurora Forecast & Alerts: Free. For most of us with wanderlust, catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights is a bucket list item, making Denali a must-see destination for those chasing the Aurora.  And while the opportunity to see the Lights are relegated to the end of the summer season, when the midnight sun finally starts to set, it is an amazing sight to behold.  It can be tricky to know when the lights are at their best, and when you have the best chances of spotting them.  That’s where the Aurora Forecast & Alerts app comes in.  This completely free program will tell you when the lights are at their best, where to see them, and even set your notifications so that it’ll keep you updated as to when to go outside.  The conditions must be right, but they are predictable, and with the My Aurora Forecast app, you’ll maximize your chances.  Available on both Apple and Android marketplaces, with a 4.7/5 from 14k reviewers.

4.       DenaliFlora Interactive Key: Free.  Of all the apps on our list so far, this one is the most likely to fly under your radar.  The DenaliFlora Interactive Key is a database of plant life that you can find in Denali National Park and it’s surrounding areas.  Created in 2016 by Denali’s own botany staff, this incredible botanical resource will help you identify and learn about the Parks rich ecosystem, more in depth than any pamphlet or trailside placard can.  Once downloaded this app is available offline and will help you to correctly identify over 300 types of plants.  If you’re looking for something specific, you can hit the Species List dropdown key to narrow you search down to more specific categories.  This is another perfect example of the National Parks Services commitment to conservation and scientific learning.  This app will enrich every hike you go on and have you departing from Denali with a greener thumb.

5.       Night Sky: Free.  Again, we find ourselves back at the Alaskan Sky, while this time instead of an app focused on the Aurora, we have one focused on the stars.  Denali is a hub for stargazing, with almost no light pollution, and impeccable air quality the late summer months are an amazing place to watch the milky way, hunt for shooting stars, and even see satellites zoom through the galactic canvas.  The Night Sky app will only boost this experience for you.  It will not only track and name the stars, planets, and constellations for you, it will even show you the international space station, give you notifications on impending meteor showers, and even let you interact with celestial bodies through AR technology.  The wonder of the night sky is that much more impressive when you get to learn about what you are seeing.  The only downside for this app is that it is only available iOS users, meaning that android users will have to search for a different option.  An optional premium subscription is available for $4.99 a month, that would include Aurora Mapping, Night Sky Tours, and a database of billions of stats that can be streamed from the cloud.  On its own though, the free subscription is plenty powerful for the average user.  It has almost 300k reviews, ranking it at a 4.7/5.

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Evan Orfanidis
Denali Park Adventures is a local, family-owned adventure tour company located just outside the entrance to Denali National Park. Denali Park Adventures is the ultimate source of adventure for all ages and all skill levels, in single, family, or group travel.

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