I recently compiled a list of the 10 Best iPhone and Android Apps for Exploring the Outdoors – from geocaching to running to birding. But in this post, I wanted to highlight the local apps we have access to here in the Lower Mainland, which can help get us outside.
I’ll start with the same sidenote: You do NOT want to rely on your phone’s GPS for backcountry navigation, with very few exceptions. Why not? There is a detailed list of reasons in this article.
Now, here are the best apps Vancouverites can use to get outside, listed in no particular order:
1. iParks Navigator – Parks of Metro Vancouver
iParks-Navigator helps you to explore the finest parks and greenspaces in and around Metro Vancouver, including regional parks, and parks in the City of Richmond.
The app has a clean interface and lets you see all the Metro Vancouver parks on a map, where you can select parks of interest. There are detailed overviews of each park, including photos and trail maps. iParks Navigator also has a calendar with upcoming events listed by park and access to the Metro Vancouver website.
iParks Navigator App: iPhone
2. Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain app provides cool features like run tracking, access to the webcam, lift and run status, alerts and more. Run tracking allows you to monitor, record and map your runs at Grouse Mountain using your phone’s GPS, and post your latest run to Facebook or Twitter. Looking for the latest weather? Now, Mountain weather is at the tip of your fingers.
3. Whistler Blackcomb Live
The official Whistler Blackcomb app, this is the one you need if you’re hitting the slopes in Whistler. The app provides real-time mountain info, including lift status, trail conditions, weather, maps, webcams and more. Features include:
- Snow Alerts
- Lift & Alpine Zone Alerts
- Listen to the Snow Report
- Run Tracker, track your runs with GPS
- Live Conditions & Web Cams
- Backcountry Avalanche Advisory and Much More!
4. Tap Map – Metro Vancouver
Another one from Metro Vancouver is the Tap Map, which serves one simple purpose; to show you where all the water fountains are, from West Vancouver to Langley.
The Metro Vancouver region has some of the best drinking water in the world, and we believe you should drink it. It’s mountain fresh rain water and melted snow that is treated in state-of-the-art facilities. Over 100,000 tests in total are conducted on 25,000 samples every year to confirm water quality throughout the region’s distribution system.
The website also has all the fountains placed onto an embedded Google Map, which I’ve found useful to look at before heading out onto long runs into new neighborhoods.
Tap Map App: iPhone
5. The Vancouver Parks
This app is similar to the iParks app by Metro Vancouver, except focuses specifically on the City of Vancouver.
Note: This app hasn’t been updated since early 2012 and I haven’t used to to verify its quality.
The Vancouver Parks App: iPhone
6. On The Go Kids
Find out what’s going on for kids and families in and around Vancouver and Toronto (with more cities coming soon) right now, this weekend or next week! No matter where you are when you’re out and about with your kids you’ll have OnTheGoKids’ handy family-friendly event listing at your fingertips. Browse event listings, read a full event description and plan your time with your kids by building a personalized schedule.
• GPS – find kid-friendly locations close to you, plus a map to get you there. And transit directions too.
• Save and bookmark your favourite events and locations.
• Browse events by category or venue.
• Share your favourites with friends via Facebook or Twitter.
• Everything’s stored right on your phone, making our app extremely fast and allowing you to work offline so if your data roaming is turned off you can still access your info.
7. Street Food App
Ok, this one is pushing the limits of what can be called an ‘outdoors app’ – but hey, you might get hungry on your adventure!
The app shows you where all the local food trucks are currently parked so you can get your grub on.
8. Go Camping BC
Go Camping BC has a nice database of all B.C. Provincial Parks and has all the necessary information about each park, including a nice map layout of where they all are.
- British Columbia Provincial Park locations
- Park locations on maps
- Driving directions to the parks
- View and search amenities & activities available for each park
- Reservation information
9. Canadian Avalanche Center Mobile App
“Go Farther. With the new CAC Mobile app. Get today’s avalanche forecast and more with the CAC’s new upgraded app, created in partnership with MEC. New interactive map allows zoom-in and scroll.”
Bonus App – Bike Mayhem
Ok, this app probably does the opposite of help you get outside, but I had to include it for two reasons. 1) it’s a really fun game, and 2) it’s developed by a group of guys in Vancouver.
The concept is easy. You bomb down the hill on your mountain bike trying to get across the finish line as fast as possible or with accumulating the most points possible by completing tricks. Its not always as easy as it looks though to avoid a big crash and epic rag-doll of your character.
Did I get them all?!