Exploring the Chesapeake? There’s an App for That

Kayaking on the Susquehanna River.

Kayaking on the Susquehanna River. National Park Service photo

The holiday season has returned, and many of us will be shopping for the perfect gift. Remember that phone or tablet from last year? Well, by now newer versions have been released—slimmer, faster, and more advanced. This year, the National Park Service and other partners in the Chesapeake are offering advanced new apps to go on those devices—but the good news is, these apps are free. With more than 50 national parks in the Chesapeake and thousands of miles of treasured landscape to explore, here is a round-up of the best apps available for your iPhone, iPad, or Android device.

Chesapeake Explorer App

ChesapeakeExplorerApp-NPSThis free app was released in October 2012 by the National Park Service to guide your exploration of the national parks, and the Captain John Smith, Star-Spangled Banner, and Potomac Heritage National Trails. By tracking your location, it can help you experience historic and natural sites nearby offering activities such as bicycling, birding, hiking, and fishing. It provides information for each park about its hours, activities, and fees. Perfect for a tour of a treasured historic site, such as Fort Monroe, or for exploring hidden Chesapeake wonders.

For download information, visit http://www.chesapeakeexplorerapp.com/.

National Wildlife Refuges: Chesapeake Bay App

Also released in October 2012, this free field guide allows you to share your wildlife encounters at 11 iconic National Wildlife Refuges within the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Powered by Project Noah, National Geographic and the Chesapeake Conservancy developed this app. Identify thousands of species of plants and animals while connecting with a community of outdoor enthusiasts to promote conservation. Download this for iPhone and iPad in the AppStore. I’m still trying to earn the squirrel badge.

Chesapeake Bay Interpretive Buoy System App

This free app is a must-have for boaters or anyone tracking weather and water conditions in the Chesapeake. Created by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Chesapeake Conservancy, ten yellow “smart buoys” strategically placed on the Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail track weather and water conditions. You can access the data from these buoys to monitor wave height, water quality, and air and water temperatures in the bay, as well as the James, Patapsco, Potomac, and Susquehanna Rivers. Recently, Meteorologists used the buoys to track conditions during Hurricane Sandy. Learn more about the “smart buoys” and download the app for iPhone or Android at http://buoybay.noaa.gov/.

Take action

Unfortunately, the future of the buoys is uncertain due to lack of funding. Tell Congress to keep these buoys afloat.

Learn more about NPCA’s efforts to protect the landscapes of the national parks in the Chesapeake.

About the Author

NPCA Cheapeake Field Representative Ed Stierli

Ed is the Chesapeake field representative for the Mid-Atlantic region and does grassroots outreach to connect communities with national parks. Passionate about connecting youth with the outdoors and conservation, he also leads the “Freedom to Float” campaign and is an active hiker and paddler. Find him on Twitter at @edstierli.