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SmartPhone Apps for Outdoor Enthusiasts

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 7:45:41 AM America/Denver

In this new age of the Smart Phone, we can become overwhelmed by the technology available for us to simplify our busy lives, thus not really simplifying anything.  But with the Smart Phone you have an all-in-one tool for survival and fun that includes internet access, GPS coordination, cameras and much more.  With new apps being developed everyday, you can turn your phone into just about anything that you can think of.  We, your helpful Cracks & Racks crew, have put together a small selection of apps that can be fun and useful for outdoor enthusiasts to use during their activities.


If you like knowing where you are at the touch of a button while skiing in the winter, hiking in the summer, mountain biking, camping, backpacking or whatever your calling may be, then check out AccuTerra.  AccuTerra is a one-stop, GPS-based, outdoor recreation app with terrain, trail, and ski area maps designed for the iPhone.  While comparable recreation maps for expensive dedicated GPS units can cost hundreds in additional fees, AccuTerra gives you access to millions of square miles at a fraction of the price.  Choose from over 220,000 miles of trails, thousands of trailheads, campgrounds, picnic areas, it's the ONLY app available that displays all major public land boundaries.

GoSky Watch Planetarium & Google Sky Map

Go outside and check out the stars with the GoSkyWatch Planetarium App for the iPhone or Google Sky Map for Android.  These are impressive apps, which allow you to easily and quickly identify and locate stars, planets, constellations and more with a just a touch of the screen or by simply pointing to the sky.  Have fun with family and friends discovering the night sky.  Many of the new features are specifically designed for efficient outdoor use.  The red light mode is designed to preserve night vision.  The planets are shown with relative brightness for easy identification, and with touchless navigation, heads-up information display, and full 180 degree display you can see at a glance what is in the sky and where.  Looking for a planet or star?  Just use the finder and let the arrow guide the way.

iBird Pro

During your down-time while you sit back and relax and enjoy the outdoors this year, try out the iBird Pro app.  This app, iBird Plus, is an interactive guide to the most popular bird species found in the backyards of North America. Designed for both  the iPhone and Android platforms, this product contains illustrations, photos, bird calls and comprehensive facts to help you identify and enjoy 234 North American bird species. With no need for an Internet connection, and all of the data right at your fingertips, you can make bird identification a fun activity no matter what your outdoor passion is.

All-In Pedometer

There are some especially cool apps that you can use every day in your busy life like the All-In Pedometer. The Pedometer is the perfect tool for working out or just measuring how much you walk in a day. The built-in music player will get you pumped for the workout and the body tracker will show you the changes in your body, speeding up the progress toward your ultimate goal.  Just start the application, put your iPhone or iPod in your pocket, and get movin'!  The Pedometer does all of the calculating for you.

Knot Guide

You don't have to live by the old saying, "If you can't tie a good knot, just tie a bunch of bad ones" anymore once you download the Knot Guide for iPhone and Android applications.  People of all walks of life since ancient times have found knots both fascinating and essential.  Knots are used in sailing, climbing, tree trimming, jewelry making, and everyday tasks such as attaching a load to your vehicle.  Whether you're a novice or you have experience with tying knots, Knot Guide will assist you!  17 different categories include: Bends, Binding Knots, Climbing Knots, Decorative Knots, Fishing Knots, Hitches (End), Hitches (Middle), Lashings, Loops (Fixed), Loops (Slip), Rope Care, Sailing Knots, Scout Knots, Shortenings, Splices, Stopper Knots, and Whippings.

Weather Channel

Planning any outdoor adventure requires you be in touch with the weather, and we prefer to use the app from the Weather Channel because frankly, their forecasts are most accurate. This app takes your weather experience to the next level with full screen maps, extended forecasts, severe weather alerts, and more, all at your fingertips.  This app features a full screen, interactive radar map, it uses Google Mobile Maps for faster zooming and panning, it can pinpoint your location at launch, contains seasonal information, and it can post weather directly to your Facebook Wall.  Most importantly it shows you the dew point, which we all know is must have info to know when the next big storm is going to hit!

Google Earth

Sometimes exploring the world can be a little confusing.  Have no fear - the Google Earth App is here!  With Google Earth for Android, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch, you can fly to far corners of the planet with just the swipe of a finger. Explore the same global satellite and aerial imagery available in the desktop version of Google Earth, including high-resolution imagery for over half of the world's population and a third of the world's land mass.

MyNature Animal Tracks

Another fun and educational outdoor app is the MyNature Animal Tracks.  We've all been there before, fishing a sandy riverbank, hiking over a lush green forest trail, gliding through a fresh snow fall on a clear crisp winter morning. Then, right there in front of you, you see a set of tracks. You wonder, which way they're heading, what animal was it, was it just here. Is it a canine or feline or maybe it's a bear?  Animal tracks can be found in nearly every square mile of North America!  With the MyNature app you are now equipped with a database with 7 search-able track categories fully illustrated by size and shape for quick selection, illustrations of both fore and hind feet.  Plus a complete description of track measurements, full color digital images of an actual track in the wild, gorgeous photos of each individual animal featured, illustrations of the most common gait pattern for each animal, sound files for an example of each animals vocalization, and even range maps showing each animals distribution across North America.

Elevation Pro

For those of you who like to explore the higher elevations check out the Elevation Pro App.  It brings worldwide USGS elevation to your fingertips and is now even better with fully integrated Google maps and Twitter sharing.  You can get elevation for any habitable place on Earth just by touching the location on the map!  Share your current Elevation on Twitter and have an unlimited number of Elevation Waypoints in Map, Satellite, or Hybrid views.  View two sources of elevation data - GPS and USGS data sources - for unparalleled accuracy.

Camping Recipes

When mac and cheese doesn't cut it,  check out Camping Recipes App for iPhone, where you will find delicious and easy camping recipes that will satisfy big or picky appetites. Do you have a particular way that you like to cook outdoors?  Find camping recipes suited to your style of cooking.  This app offers easy, delicious recipes for camping and hiking!  Why is it that food cooked outdoors always seems to taste better?  Now take it to another level.

Posted in Lifestyle By Cracks & Racks

Winter Vacation Planning Tips

Tuesday, May 26, 2015 7:44:53 AM America/Denver

Insider Tips for Planning a Ski & Snowboard Trip

Are you planning a winter getaway this year?  We're not referring to a "winter escape" to Hawaii or Costa Rica (sounds nice though), we're talking skiing and snowboarding.  There"s nothing like that cold fresh air, crisp powder in your face or flying down freshly groomed corduroy to get your senses tingling and muscles burning.

Here are some ideas from the crew at Cracks & Racks to help you plan and make the most from your trip.

Check These Websites for Great Deals While Planning

If you're still in the planning phase of your trip, check out websites like, or  These are valuable resources that can help you find a package deal to a number of destinations that may include lift tickets, ski rentals, and transportation to and from the airports to your lodging.  If you're making plans on short notice, you can also find special last minute deals.

Buy Lift Tickets Ahead of Time

Skip the lines at the ticket counter on your first day of riding and buy your lift tickets in advance of your arrival.  If you book through a website like, your package may already include lift tickets.  Many resorts have advanced sales and offer price breaks when purchasing multi-day tickets in advance.

A website like partners directly with ski resorts to bring you lift ticket deals you won't find anywhere else. Book online and save up to 80%!

Rent Skis - Buy Boots

Traveling with skis is costly and with ski & snowboard technology changing every year, renting skis & boards makes more sense than purchasing.  Instead, purchasing a pair of well fitted boots will be the best investment and last the longest.  Renting boards allows you to get the latest equipment, matched to current conditions.  Local ski shops can be very helpful getting you the right gear for your level of skiing or riding.  You can swap gear too, which is especially nice when the skinny cruising skis you were on yesterday aren't the best choice for the 8" of new snow that fell overnight.

When you're renting gear, head over to the ski shop in the evening, before your first day on the mountain, if possible.  That way, you won't spend valuable time in the shop the morning of your first ski day.  Even better, contact a company like D2D Ski RentalsBlackTie Ski Rentals and Ski Butlers will come right to your hotel or condo delivering the latest gear, having you ready to hit the slopes first thing in the morning.

Make Dinner Reservations in Advance

If you want to head out on the town at night for a steak dinner and a bottle of wine, you'd best have a reservation.  If your plans are during the high season, around the holidays, you"ll want to make reservations well in advance of your arrival, unless you prefer eating at 9:30 at night.  If you"re staying at a hotel, call ahead and speak with the concierge and ask them to make some reservations for you.

If you"re still looking for a place to eat, check out  You'll find even the highest rated restaurants here, and with smartphone apps, getting a last minute reservation is possible.

Grab a Local Newspaper

Once you've reached your destination, the local newspaper is the best resource for learning about upcoming events you may want to check out like live music shows, or movie listings, or special events, which are typical in resort destination communities.  You can learn a little bit about the community and pick up some great ideas for after ski activities.  Plus, you can catch up on the latest gossip around town, which can help start some pretty interesting chairlift conversations.

If you're interested in live music, make sure you check in advance of your arrival for ticket availability.  Contact the venue box office prior to your arrival.

Try Something Besides Skiing or Snowboarding

Not a skier or boarder or maybe you just want to take a day off from skiing to rest.  Fortunately, there are a bunch of other fun activities besides skiing & snowboarding at most destinations.  Cross Country skiing and snowshoeing are fun and inexpensive and allow you to soak up some fresh air, see some countryside and get away from the crowds.  Fly fishing is a year-round sport and you'll likely have the river to yourself during the winter while you chase trout.  Ice skating and sledding are fun for all ages, although sledding on the ski area is absolutely forbidden.  Soaking up the warmth in the hot tub or local hot springs can be a great way to spend some time too.

Contact the local chamber of commerce where you are visiting for ideas and the names of reputable outfitters to help you with your alternative activities.

Take it Easy on Your First Day

Enduring an entire week of skiing will be easier if you don't wreck yourself the first day.  We understand the thrill and anticipation of getting out skiing, especially on the first day, but remember, skiing can take a toll on your body and you're going to get sore if you haven't skied since last season, or done ski conditioning prior to your arrival.  Our best advice is to stay hydrated, eat well, get plenty of rest and don't overdo it on the alcohol, especially at altitude!

We hope you found this article helpful for planning your next winter getaway and hope you have a safe and enjoyable trip.

Posted in Lifestyle By Cracks & Racks

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