Technology and Nature: 11 Best Nature Apps

One thing Minnesotans do best is take advantage of good weather. Even if we just have one nice day surrounding by lingering winter weather, we are outside enjoying nature. If you are out and about, use these nature apps to help you better connect with the environment.

THE REI NATIONAL PARKS GUIDE & MAPS

This brand new app is both beautiful and functional. It offers details on lodging accommodations, transportation, trails and scenic spots you just have to visit.

It even tells you where the bathrooms are and how to make the trip family-friendly if you bring the kids along.

INATURALIST

iNaturalist is a place where you can record what you see in nature, meet other nature lovers and learn about the natural world.

In addition to keeping personal records, you can share your records and view other people's sightings. You might discover someone who found beautiful wildflowers at your favorite birding spot, or learn about the birds you see on the way to work.

PETERSON BIRDS — A FIELD GUIDE TO BIRDS OF NORTH AMERICA

Birders, rejoice! You no longer have to carry around those heavy bird books when you go out. This app uses the identification processes you know from using Peterson guides in the past and the user interface makes searching and recording sightings easy.

AUDUBON TREES — A FIELD GUIDE TO NORTH AMERICAN TREES

Whether on the trail or in your backyard this app will help you ID leaves, bark, cones, needles, fruits and flowers using species information, brilliant color photos, detailed range maps and habitat information.

WHAT'S INVASIVE!

This app aims to use crowdsourced data to help eliminate invasive species that threaten native plants and animals. 

This app displays local lists of top invasive plants and/or animals (with images and short descriptions to remind you of what they look like) that have been identified by National Park Service or other invasive management authorities. You can browse these lists of species and if you see one of them, then click the species name to send the GPS location to the experts.

PROJECT NOAH

Like What's Invasive!, Project Noah uses citizens to crowdsource scientific information. You join "missions" to report spotting of, say, all the birds in your local area, and earn badges as you contribute. If you're unsure about the species, you can upload a photo and metadata for others to identify.

ITRACK WILDLIFE

Made for both beginners and experts, iTrack Wildlife is a digital guide to animal tracks, filled with photos, track drawings and track descriptions for 65 mammal species. The app also teaches you how to measure tracks to become a better wildlife tracker.

SKYVIEW FREE

This app is almost magical; you simply point your iPhone, iPad, or iPod at the sky and as you move over different objects in the night sky, information about stars, planets, satellites, and galaxies appear on your phone.

You can even use it in night vision mode with red light, so that your phone doesn't blind your eyes!

KNOTS 3D

Choose from 101 different knots and see how they're tied in incredible detail. Watch the knot draw itself or use your finger to tie and untie the knot. It’s easy to see where the virtual rope goes in and out and around. You can also see what a knot looks like rotated 40°, 90 or even see what it looks like from the back.

NATURE PASSPORT

Nature Passport motivates kids to play, explore and learn in the outdoors. The app has lots of fun missions that will take kids on adventures from their backyard to the great outdoors and they will earn badges along the way. They can even create their own missions to share with others.

ALLTRAILS

AllTrails is the #1 outdoors app on the iPhone for good reason. The app has the largest collection of detailed trail information, curated by 3 million hikers, campers and mountain bikers.

In addition to sorting by location, Alltrails lets you filter trails by length, rating, difficulty level, dog-friendly, kid-friendly and wheelchair-friendly.