If a visit to a national park or other well-known scenic drive is on your summer bucket list, here’s an app worth downloading before you go.
GyPSy Guide is a virtual tour guide that shares stories, tips and facts as you travel through your destination. It features locations throughout the U.S. and Canada, including Hawaii, with more being constantly added. At this point in development, many of the tours feature western locations.
The app isn’t free. I paid $10 for the Android version of my tour, and it was well worth the cost. In the old days of family travel, someone would read from a printed guide book while another person drove. This app is like having a professional tour guide sitting in the car with you. There’s no fumbling through pages or maps. Commentary automatically plays when your vehicle reaches designated GPS locations.
You should download the app before your trip. Once it’s downloaded, you won’t need a Wi-Fi signal to access it. Instead, the app uses satellite signals and free device location services. This is more dependable in remote locations outside your phone’s normal service area.
While I’ve been to Yellowstone National Park many times, my children have not. I got the Yellowstone and Grand Teton Combo Tour because I wanted them to learn something about the park. I thought the app would tell some historical stories, and it did, but it also gave advice on parking (which can be tough to find in popular locations), must-see attractions, photo opportunities and places that were neat to see but OK to miss if you didn’t have the time to stop. Information was current, entertaining and accessible for all ages. We named our tour guide “Jim” and heard stories about science, geology, history and controversy.
I turned on the app about 20 miles before I entered the park. Commentary begins at any of the park entrances or anywhere within the park. There’s no need to enter your location. This particular tour featured more than 300 stories and more than 460 audio points. You can only hear the stories associated with the points you drive through. Since we didn’t drive every route in the park, there were many stories we didn’t hear.
The next time I go to a well-known destination, I’ll be checking to see if GyPSy Guide has a tour for it. The app works on smartphones and tablets. It can only be used on iPad models that include a GPS chip and won’t work on Wi-Fi only iPads, nor will it work on laptops or e-reader-type devices like Kindles and Nooks. The GyPSy Guide website offers additional tips for setup.
As the sole driver on this trip, this app allowed me to relax and enjoy the ride. If you plan to visit popular destinations like Yellowstone; the Grand Canyon; Vancouver, Canada; or Glacier National Park, GyPSy Guide has a tour for you. If you’re going elsewhere, I recommend checking to see if a tour is available before you go.