Visiting a national park? Let Chimani navigate. Learn how you can use the Chimani app to navigate your favorite national park
Runs offline: partially
Last update: Android 08/09/2016 (v. 4.1.2) – iOS 09/09/2016 (v. 4.1.1)
Website of the developer: Chimani
- On 16/11/2015 and after some emails with an user of the application that tested the tool in the field, the rating has been reduced because the maps for offline viewing take a lot of storage although they are not very detailed and they don’t give much information, (for example, Gibbon Falls are not marked, only the picnic area, to 800 m from the falls). The information about some hotels is also stale.
- On 07/01/2016 and after the last update, it was found that the problem with maps persists, although it seems that information about accommodations located in the park has been corrected.
- Article updated on 07/10/2016
Chimani is a company of Portland (Maine-USA) dedicated to the creation of mobile applications that allow users to explore the national parks of the country avoiding guides or planes on paper. At the moment, they have available for download 19 applications covering some of the best known natural areas of the country, such as Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, etc. Recently, they have also launched a general application, Chimani National Parks (Android 4.0, iOS 7.0, web), which provides brief information about the 59 currently declared national parks (includes link to download the detailed applications), historical sites , monuments, recreation areas, rivers, battlefields of the Civil War, etc.
However, this analysis has focused on one of the detailed applications, in particular, for the Yellowstone Park, one of the most emblematic and the first space declared as protected area in the world, particularly in 1872. The detailed applications are similar to each other in terms of presentation and content included, so this analysis will allow a detailed view of the particularities of this mobile tool.
The first time the application is run, it is recommended an internet connection in order to update the database. After running this update, the application can operate in offline mode, but a periodic connection to search possible updates is recommended.
These are some of the topics covered by the application:
- “Map”, which provides an overview of how existing resources (detailed later) are distributed into the park. The application provides the ability to download maps in two versions of detail for offline consultation.
- “Viewport”, utility that provides information through augmented reality (works offline too).
- “Ranger events”, where you can consult activities related with the rangers service.
- “The garbage problem” and “Leave no trace”, a reminder about the problem of litter in natural sites, the importance of collecting the waste generated during the stay in the park, behaviors to be observed during the visit, etc.
- “Information”, with issues related to the park entrance fees, road conditions, weather forecasting, etc.
- “Auto touring”, which informs about routes to travel by car. Includes audio files to avoid read, activity incompatible if you are driving.
- “Hiking trails” and “Bicycling”, which brings hiking and cycling routes. The footpaths include information about the degree of difficulty, length, duration and cumulative elevation gain, in addition to information and an access to the map where the way is marked. The routes for cycling are not mapped, offering only information.
- “Camping” and “Lodging”, with the different options that exist to spend the night in the park, with access to telephone numbers and websites to reserve.
- “Points of interest” and “Scenic views”, where points with panoramic views are listed.
- “Wildlife viewing” and “Fishing”, with information and tips to see wildlife and avoid unfortunate encounters with species that can cause danger, as well as information about areas where fishing is permitted.
- “Picnicking”, with information on activities adapted for picnic areas. It is specified if they are accessible to wheelchairs.
- “Museums”, restored old buildings that currently serve to show different aspects of the park, such as the history of the rangers.
- “Restrooms” and “Parking”
- “Ranger stations” and “Safety”, with information and signalling of visitor centers, medical services, etc.
- “Food” and “Stores”, where restaurants with their schedules, type of food (free of gluten, for example) or telephone number are included. Also commercial establishments in which to buy mountain items, clothes or souvenirs are listed.
- “Support” and “Notifications”, which include volunteering activities, associations working in the park, notifications about closed routes, works, etc.
In a recent update, it has added an initial tutorial, a tool to plan the trip (“Trip planning”) in which you point out your interests, length, etc., you receive recommendations about places to discover and other app improvements related to data syncing and updating of content.
Images: Screenshots 14/09/2015 ©Chimani
The Chimani app about the Yellowstone National Park brings together virtually all the information that visitors to this area may need at any given time, avoiding having to carry guides or maps on paper, which is appreciated in a space with an area of almost 9,000 km2. Highlight several positive topics, such as the level of detail of the content (accessibility for people with mobility problems, possibility of food without gluten, etc.), the notification system about problems in a specific area (activity of bears, works, etc.) or audio files that guide in the auto routes. However, there are some utilities of the application that could be improved. One is the map and the representation of the different services through numbers, which can be confusing (this last problem has been corrected in a later update). It would be preferable a system to select which items or groups of items you want to display (picnic areas, scenic views, etc.). Similarly, the linear resources (hiking, car and bicycling) not have a proper graphical representation of detail. This lack can produce problems for the visitors, which can be especially dangerous in the case of hikers. This type of problems is causing that in countries such as United Kingdom, for example, the rescues are increasing for following only the indications of insufficient detail digital maps. To remedy this lack of detail, it might be interesting to give the option to download a detailed map for each route.Also note that external data downloading for offline consultation can increase the weight of the application up to 1GB or more and can cause performance problems on the phone.