By Terry Gardner, Special to Tribune Newspapers
8:12 PM EDT, June 5, 2012
GoGGBridge app (free; iOS and Android)
What it is: An entertaining and trip-planning app created for the 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, which opened May 27, 1937.
How it works: With a tap or swipe of your finger, you can plan a visit or absorb history.
Why it's great: This app puts bridge facts in your pocket, plus details on where to shop, hike, grab grub, catch a bus or find a toilet.
Why you might hesitate: The maps aren't integrated with Google maps. But the app's assets outweigh this limitation.
National Geographic National Parks app (free; iOS)
What it is: An app with comprehensive guides to 20 of America's most visited National Parks, including Arches, Bryce Canyon and Zion in Utah; the Grand Canyon in Arizona; Acadia in Maine and Everglades in Florida. More parks will be added.
How it works: You can use the free basic guide or pay 99 cents to $1.99 for an expanded guide. Your first expanded guide is free (I chose Yosemite).
The free basic guide includes general park information, how and when to go, entrance fees, park rules, advisories and detailed maps that you can filter by activity or season. The expanded guides provide more photos along with Photo Tips from pros, Park Secrets, What to See and What to Do. National Geographic spokeswoman Stephanie Montgomery says the expanded guides for Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Zion are the most downloaded. Each costs 99 cents.
Why it's great: I love many of the basic guide's features, including being able to dial a phone number by tapping it in the app. The option of filtering sights on the map by activity or season is also sweet. However, I preferred planning a visit to Yosemite by using What to Do and What to See.
Why you might hesitate: I wish clicking on a Point of Interest in the map would launch Google Maps for directions.
Fotopedia National Parks app (free; iOS)
What it is: A photo driven app that's loaded with 3,000 spectacular images shot by professional photographer QT Luong of the 58 U.S. National Parks from Acadia in Maine to Zion in Utah.
How it works: You can view images by choosing Stories, Alaska or Slideshow. For example, in the Stories category, you can scroll through images of clouds under Hawaiian Clouds or browse wildlife photos under Florida Wildlife.
Why it's great: The images are breathtaking, and the app can help you choose which National Park has your favorite eye candy, whether it be glaciers or wildlife. If you love rock formations, images of Garden of the Gods in Utah's Arches National Park, Hoodoos in Utah's Bryce Canyon and the boulders in Texas' Big Bend National Park may help you choose where to explore.
Why you might hesitate: The descriptions aren't well-written, and there are fewer trip planning tools. But the app's photos rock.
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