Some say kids and adults need to spend less time staring at their phones and more time socializing in person and enjoying the great outdoors. As a lover of technology, tech gadgets, people, and nature, I say we can have our cake and eat it too.
Here are six ways to embrace technology for added fun outside.
- Pokémon Go – This hot new craze is an augmented reality game that allows smart phone and tablet users to search for and collect virtual Pokémon characters. It’s not just an urban thing. You can even find characters along with Pokéstops and other features showing up in Arkansas State Parks. It’s a great reason to visit a state park and not only catch some characters, but also enjoy beautiful outdoor spaces. Just remember to stay on the trails and other general safety measures of exploring nature.
- Fitness Trackers –Numerous devices are available to track your steps and other activity such as hiking, running, and biking. In addition to steps, I have my Fitbit set to track how many floors I climb in a day as well as miles and number of days I exercise. I feel more than satisfied with myself when my Fitbit buzzes and gives a digital light show on my wrist or my phone app gives a dazzling display of my accomplishment. One of my favorite ways to feed my Fitbit is an Arkansas hiking trail that gives me mileage and inclines. No matter which tracker you use, get out there, explore, and rack up those steps.
- Bike phone mount – Having your phone along on a ride is just plain useful, whether you enjoy mapping your ride on a mountain bike trail with an app or just want to see what’s around you when you’re ready to take a break for food or drink on a stretch of the Razorback Regional Greenway.
- Mapping apps – Some rural areas where you find the best scenery and experiences don’t have cell phone reception, which is good or bad depending on your needs. If you’re trying to hike in one of these areas, a National Park perhaps, downloading maps ahead of time can be useful. For example, Avenza Maps app (iOS/Android) lets you store the map of choice on your device via the app and your phone’s GPS will work with the app to reference your location on the downloaded map even when cell reception is unavailable. It’s perfect for exploring your national parks without getting lost because you can even drop pins at waypoints such as where you parked your car or a trail head. You can also search available maps in categories such as historical, hunting and fishing, parks, forests and grasslands, recreation, tourist, and more.
- Geocaching – Use a GPS or the Geocaching app for your phone to seek treasure. You’ll be surprised at what caches are hidden in your city parks, urban areas, or Arkansas State Parks. Along with finding the cache, you can also discover scenic and historic settings, waterfalls, wildlife, and more. More than 150 special geocaches are located along Arkansas’s Great River Road, including a 100-cache power trail. Literally tens of thousands of caches are hidden in Arkansas.
- Stargazing – I don’t know about you, but I can never see any of the constellations pointed out to me other than the Big Dipper. Now I have help in the form of a stargazing app on my iPhone. Download one of the numerous apps, even 3D versions, for your iOS or Android, camp out under the night sky, and observe the wonders.