While the best camping adventures are usually spontaneous and unpredictable, there’s always a level of preparation you need to put in to work out the logistics.
At Overland Discovery, we like to use the 80-20 rule for planning a camp trip. We take care of 80% (packing, prepping vehicle, gear, etc), so you can focus on the 20% — the adventure!
With your jeep or van camper rental and gear ready to go, the only thing missing is planning your camp trip location and activities.
Sure, you can pull out a map and a compass, but there is so much more to planning a trip. You have to figure out where to camp, what to do, and so much more.
Luckily, we live in a world where technology can relieve some of the stress that comes with planning a trip — and even enhance your adventures!
While we usually encourage you to unplug and escape your daily routine while on your trip, these are apps our team and customers use, and we think they’re well-worth the download.
Below, we’ve included a list of our favorite apps and resources for outdoor recreation and camping.
Bonus: All of the apps recommended here are free!
Best Camping Apps to Find Spots
Recreation.gov & Reserve America are our favorite on-the-go solutions for finding and reserving campsites, permits, and tours on federal land. Did we mention they’re both free?
Recreation.gov is the primary booking platform for national parks. The website allows you to filter campgrounds based on amenities, site type, and availability.
You can see a list view of campgrounds or check their interactive map. They also have a trip planning feature that helps you plan accommodations and activities based on your trip dates and destinations.
Visit recreation.gov or get the mobile app
Reserve America is for campgrounds in state and local government parks. Similar to recreation.gov, this website allows you to search by location, dates, and site type.
And to make your trip planning even easier, you can create an account, which will allow you to save your favorite campsites and see your past/upcoming reservations.
Visit reserveamerica.com or get the mobile app
The Dyrt: think of it as Yelp for campgrounds. You can search, review, and find information on over 500k campsites.
Relying on user-generated content, The Dyrt makes it easy to find your new favorite camping spot and get advice from people who have been there before. You can also create a favorites list, and book campsites directly through the app.
And you can join their contests to win free outdoor gear!
Use code ‘overland14’ to get a 14-Day Free Trial of The Dyrt PRO!
Some refer to this app as the Airbnb of camping. HipCamp allows you to find and book camping on private land.
Since the properties are owned and managed by individual landowners, you’ll be sure to find unique and private camping by using this app. You can camp on farms, vineyards, ranches and more!
While it costs more than a public campground, it’s a great option when you’re looking for something different.
Visit hipcamp.com or get the app for iOS and Android
Roverpass is an online booking site with thousands of listings for RV parks and campgrounds. You can browse campsites across the country including reviews, campsite activities/amenities, pictures, and more.
The unique thing about Roverpass is that they offer an online reservation management system for campgrounds or RV parks, which gives family-owned sites a way to find customers and for campers to find them.
iOverlander is a nonprofit, mostly volunteer-based project. It’s a database of places made for overlanders, by overlanders.
It includes dispersed camping, hotels, restaurants, mechanics, water, propane stations, and other categories. You can search their listings or browse the map to find your next off-the-grid camping spots.
These spots are so off-the-beaten path, they’ll give you GPS coordinates instead of an address. Pretty cool!
Visit ioverlander.com or get the app for iOS and Android
Freecampsites.net is our go-to when looking for free camping with short notice. Just enter your location or use the map feature, and the website will show you free campsites near you, along with details and reviews from other campers.
This is a great option for dispersed camping or when you need to find a campsite late at night. You can even search based on the type of access road to the sites.
Visit freecampsites.net or get the app for Android
Once you’ve found your campsite, that’s where the fun begins! It’s time to plan your activities and the rest of your adventure.
Colorado and the surrounding states have so much to offer when it comes to outdoor recreation and activities. There are fun activities for all types of people and all experience levels.
Below are some of our favorite activity-based apps and resources for when you’re ready to plan that part of your adventure.
Best Free Hiking Apps
With over 17,099 trails in Colorado alone, it’s hard to narrow down the trails you want to hike during your trip. Luckily there are free apps that can help you search trails, check conditions, see reviews and pictures, and help you plan your hikes.
Whether you’re looking for a short trail near your campsite for an early-morning trail run, or prefer a secluded trail away from the noise of other campers, you’re bound to find a hiking trail to meet your needs with these apps. Here are some of our hiker-friendly favorites:
Great trail resources and updates on trail conditions. Provides a guide to the most popular trails near you, using GPS technology.
Visit hikingproject.com or get the mobile app
Great for finding trails nearby and uses GPS technology to track your location while on trails. This is a great resource for backcountry enthusiasts as you are able to download trail maps for offline use.
Visit alltrails.com or get the mobile app
For fitness enthusiasts and hikers, this app is able to track distance, steps, and calories burned. Plus, it functions as a trail training tool.
Visit mapmyhike.com or get the mobile app
Colorado Parks & Wildlife sponsored resources for Colorado trails. This app provides up-to-date information regarding locations around Colorado, and your search can be defined by activity, such as hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, horseback riding, etc.
Visit trails.colorado.gov or get the app for iOS and Android
Allows for offline download of area and region-specific maps for offline use. The maker of this app, Pocket Maps, offers state-specific pocket maps. So if, for example, you’re planning to explore Utah, New Mexico, or Arizona, you can use this app to research and download useful maps for your journey.
Favorite Apps for Mountain Bikers
For those of us who love switchbacks and downhills on a mountain bike, you don’t have to rely on generic apps or maps to find trails. Here are our favorite free mountain biking apps:
Similar to Hiking Project, this app can display nearby mountain biking trails, log your ascents, provide user-updated information on trail conditions, etc.
Visit mtbproject.com or get the mobile app
For those that love to log the exact coordinates of their hike/bike, Komoot is the ideal app. The navigation technology of this app is excellent for those venturing to more remote locations in Colorado.
Visit komoot.com or get the app for iOS and Android
Favorite Apps for Climbers
With hundreds of climbing spots around the state and arguably some of the most diverse locations, Colorado is a rock climber’s dream. Whether you’re a newbie or a crag addict, here’s an app that can take your climbing to the next level:
Mountain Project is the digital guidebook for climbing worldwide. It provides ample resources and beta for rock climbing routes near you, and it uses your GPS location to suggest bouldering or sport climbing spots.
Visit mountainproject.com or get the app for iOS and Android
Favorite SITES for Bird Lovers
With more than 450 different avian species, Colorado’s eastern plains are the ideal environment for birding in Colorado. Thousands of visitors flock to our state every year to observe the wildlife and birds in their natural habitat.
The Colorado Birding Trail has over 54 trails where you can view watchable wildlife, and it can sometimes be overwhelming when planning your trip.
Below are some of our go-to resources for anyone interested in a Colorado birding adventure. While these are online resources and not mobile apps, we still highly recommend them.
Links outdoor recreation sites, both public and private, into a network through a designated driving route. Each of these driving routes have a unique trail name and are composed of several watchable wildlife sites.
Some trails include hiking or walking paths or platforms where you can observe different wildlife and scenery.
This organization specializes in custom birding trips to some of the best birding destinations in Colorado. With a professional guide, you’ll get to experience some of the best birding in Rocky Mountain National Park, the Pawnee National Grasslands, and the Northern Colorado Foothills.
Comprehensive list of birding resources from the State of Colorado.
Best Website For Photographers in Colorado
When it comes to mountain and landscape photography there are few locations, if any, that are better than Colorado. Colorado is home to some of the most jaw-dropping scenery in the country.
From Pikes Peak to Bridal Veil Falls, there are plenty of locations across the state that offer amazing views and make for the perfect backdrop for any photograph.
While there aren’t many apps specifically made for Colorado photography, there is a website that provides photographers in Colorado with useful information. Here’s our pick:
Provides up-to-date information regarding photography in Colorado. A very valuable resource for everyone taking photos in Colorado.
Favorite Just-for-Fun Outdoor Apps
For those who don’t have specific activities planned for your Colorado camping trip, there are also fun apps that will take your adventure (and outdoor expertise) to the next level!
From helping you identify plants and constellations to giving you tips on the best adventures in your area, these apps will make you feel like the avid outdoor enthusiast you really are.
A joint initiative by the California Academy of Sciences and the National Geographic Society, this app helps you identify the plants and animals around you.
iNaturalist is a not-for-profit program helping people around the world learn what’s in their neighborhood and generating millions of data points for biodiversity research.
Visit inaturalist.org or get the mobile app
Stargazing app that allows you to point your phone at the sky to identify stars, constellations, satellites, and more.
Get the app for iOS and Android
Blog meets search engine. The Outbound app helps you find incredible local adventures, tours, and activities based on your location. They sometimes have camping recommendations too.
Visit theoutbound.com or get the mobile app
Find the Perfect Camping Spot for Your Next Colorado Adventure
While these apps may help you find a treasure trove of camp spots, hiking trails, and fun ways to interact with the outdoors, you might still find yourself overwhelmed by choice.
What are the differences between established campgrounds and dispersed campsites? What about public versus private land?
We’ve created a guide to help you understand the different types of camping sites in Colorado, the pros and cons of dispersed vs. established campgrounds, and how to find the perfect camping spot for your next adventure.
Here’s how to find the best camping in Colorado >