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Get ready for summer travel with a free National Park guide

Mel Martin

It's almost summer, so thoughts turn to rock climbing, scenic vistas, maybe a geyser or a cool mountain lake. If you're thinking of traveling to any of the 58 US national parks, or any of the places in the National Park System that include seashores, battlefields, recreation areas and more, I think the new Chimani National Park app is for you. The free iPad and iPhone app gives you an overview of the place you want to visit, interactive maps and some Wikipedia-based information. It also provides a to-do list, letting you mark where you've been and where you'd like to go. The app also provides a web link to the official site for each National Park Service-administered location.

I've previously reviewed the Chimani National Park guides that deal with some specific locations. This latest app is a much less detailed guide, but I was surprised to learn of national park facilities in my area that I didn't even know were there. There is also an option to get a lifetime subscription to the National Parks Traveler News website for $1.99.

Gallery: Chimani National Park Guide | 6 Photos

Using the app is pretty straightforward, and the GUI matches the look of the previous Chimani guides. The app itself is about 12 MB, but after you install it, some data comes from the Web, including, of course, links to national park sites and a collection of more than 300 images showing each location. There are a couple of things that could be improved. In the map view, there is an irritating animation of pins dropping onto the map that takes a while to complete. You can touch the screen and stop it, but it seems a needless graphical flourish.

Like the other Chimani products, the national park guide is well thought out and easy to use. If you're planning a trip to visit of any of our scenic or historical national treasures, I think this app is a worthwhile download. Let us know if you find it helpful. The guide is designed for the iPad, iPod touch and iPhone, and requires iOS 3.1.2 or greater.

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