1) Alaska App - Free on iOS only
Whether planning a trip using the Guidebook or just looking for something to do on a down day or when something else on your itinerary has been canceled due to the weather, The Alaska App is a great way to find something great to do nearby. Built with a functioning GPS it always knows where you are. Just tap the Nearby button to find a new idea. The app has over 350 audio guides, 40 road guides, 500 videos, and 10,000 photos. Guides cover everything from Where To Stay (bear viewing lodges to B&Bs) to Wildlife Viewing Spots. The basic functionality can be used without cell service, and the audio guides can be downloaded in advance to use offline.
2) Campendium - free on iOS only with plans for Android soon. If you want to access Campendium on your Android device now, you can add a link to your phone or tablet's home screen to use their website.
This is a crowdsourced app for camping. You can filter by the type of overnight accommodations you are looking for:
- Publc Lands
- RV Park
- Free Overnight Parking
You can also filter by type of hookups and types of campgrounds, or look for dumps. Reviewers will also report on their service provider's cell service coverage for when they camped. This is a more accurate way of determining what your coverage will be like, as we know that service provider's coverage maps are optimistic at the very least, and downright inaccurate much of the time. If you use this app, pay it forward and leave a review to let others know what you have found along the way. A trip to Alaska is not cheap, but if we can all report on great free or low-cost camping, then we can help each other reduce our costs
3) US Public Lands - $2.99 on iOS & Android.
Although you can park/camp overnight for free on undeveloped public lands, it is usually very difficult to find the boundaries for such lands. This app has done just that and it works offline since most of these places will be without cell coverage. Included in this app are lands that are greater than 640 acres in size for the following types of lands. Your map can be filtered to show all or some:
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
- US Forest Service (FS)
- National Park Service (NPS)
- National BLM Monuments
- Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE)
- US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Bureau of Reclamation
- Tennessee Valley Authority
- Department of Defense (military bases & installations)
4) Aurora Forecast - free on iOS & Android.
Depending upon the time of year that you are traveling to Alaska, this is a must-have app. Using the feature Aurora nowcast, a globe will appear showing the probability of visible aurora at that point in time. The GPS feature will pinpoint you on the globe, but you can turn the globe to get a better view of other areas to see the probability for an area that you will be traveling to soon. You can also purchase an alert feature for $1.99, but keep in mind that this will only work in areas with either wifi or 3G or LTE coverage. So if you are in a remote area, (like most of Alaska) this won't help you much. And of course be sure to tell others in your campground to wake you up if they happen to see them.
5) Quakewatch - $0.99 on iOS only.
Perhaps this may seem like a downer of an app, but earthquakes are a daily occurrence in and around Alaska. Granted most of them are very small, but it is still nice to know if they are happening with an increasing frequency in an area that you are about to travel to soon. When I was traveling the Alaska Railroad a few years back, the train came to a complete stop between Fairbanks and Talkeetna without explanation. After a little while word came back from the conductor that we had stopped so that railroad crew could check the tracks for any damage from the earthquake that had just occurred nearby. It was nice to be able to whip out my smartphone to see how close the quake had been and its magnitude. (It had happened in Denali National Park near Talkeetna, and was a 5.3 on the Richter Scale) This app pulls the latest information on earthquakes from around the world by using feeds from multiple sources including the US Geological Survey and the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre, as well as Canada, etc.
6) Tides Near Me - free on iOS & Android.
Alaska is a very large peninsula, hence surrounded by ocean, along with several islands. If you intend to go fishing, whale watching, kayaking, etc. knowing when the tides are coming in is helpful. Most tourist stops will have little booklets that you can pick up for free with the nearby tide tables, but you can also download this app to your phone or tablet. Make sure that if you are in the Anchorage area in June or July to go see the Bore Tides on the Turnagain Arm. If you go on the right day, it appears as if a wave is coming in, and sometimes people even surf. But do exercise caution. Watch the tide from shore, and on the rocks. The mud flats act like quicksand, and if you get caught in these when one of the bore tides are rising, NOBODY will be able to rescue you in time. People drown on these mudflats every year due to ignorance, and stupidity. Don't be one of them
7) Roadside America - $2.99 on iOS only, but you can add a link to the home screen of your Android device to their website.
If you are looking for something offbeat to do either while in Alaska or on your trip there, purchase this app. Quirky is the best way to describe the sights and activities that you will find using this tool. For example, you can visit the gravesite of Annabelle the Painting Elephant or see the Nenana Ice Classic Tripod that is used each spring to bet on when the ice will break up on the Nenana River. (You can bet on this from anywhere in the world)