5 Free Field Guide Apps for Deciphering the Outdoors

04 Oct 5 Free Field Guide Apps for Deciphering the Outdoors

Photo by Libby Zay.

Photo by Libby Zay.

Using your phone to get back to nature might seem a little backward, but with a few clicks of a button, these free field guide apps can help you learn more about the outdoors. Just make sure you’re charged up first!

1) LeafSnap



Available on: iPhone

Perfect for: budding botanists

A project of several universities and the Smithsonian Institution, this app does just what the name implies: If you snap a picture of a leaf, it brings up a list of possible matches. Consider bringing a sheet of paper with you, as the app works best on a white background.

2) Merlin Bird ID



Available on: iPhone and Android

Perfect for: birding beginners

Answer five simple questions and this app will use data from 70 million observations to help identify your latest bird spotting. You can also browse thousands of photos and listen to songs and calls of different species.

3) NatureFind



Available on: iPhone

Perfect for: explorers on the go

Find the closest parks, forests, planetariums, nature centers, and more. This app is great for people who are on the road—but you might also be surprised by what’s in your backyard.

4) Project Noah



Available on: iPhone and Android

Perfect for: citizen scientists

Built for a new generation of explorers, this social network for naturalists allows you to record your observations and see what others have observed nearby. As you participate, you’ll earn virtual badges.


5) SkyView



Available on: iPhone and Android

Perfect for: curious stargazers

Point your phone at the night sky and get information about stars, constellations, planets, satellites, and more. You’ll still look up at the cosmos in wonder, but without wondering what you’re seeing.


Know of another great app for learning about the outdoors? Let us know in the comments below.



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Libby Zay
Libby Zay is an award-winning travel writer who has contributed to three Latin American guidebooks and many other travel and lifestyle publications. She is obsessed with the great American road trip and has traveled coast-to-coast seeking out roadside attractions, historical sites, and national parks. A researcher and guide by nature, she loves to swap stories, advice, and tips; chat with her on Twitter @libbyzay or read more at www.libbyzay.com.
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