Calgary

Parks Canada app offers guided road trip through Alberta and B.C.

Through stories narrated by past and present Parks Canada staff, the Explora Kootenay app reconnects drivers with stories about the history of Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park.

Explora Kootenay app directs drivers to points of interest along Hwy. 93

Kootenay National Park was originally created in 1920 as an area to tour in your car. A new Parks Canada app is updating that idea by providing visitors with a digital audio guide for their ride. (Parks Canada)

If you're planning a road trip through the Rockies this summer, Parks Canada wants to keep you company.

It's developed a free app for smart phones that guides drivers to points of interest along Highway 93 between Banff and Radium Hot Springs, in both directions.

"Kootenay National Park was originally created as a driving tour park back in 1920, so we thought this fit really well with the heritage of the park," said Tania Peters, a spokeswoman for Lake Louise, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks.

"So they're doing a traditional activity that the park was originally created for but we're reaching out to them in a brand-new way."   

If you've ever wondered about something you see on your drive through the Kootenays - but didn't want to stop? Parks Canada may just have a solution to keep you going and informed. 5:43

Since there is no cell phone service along the 94-kilometre stretch of highway, the Explora Kootenay app must be uploaded before you start your trip — but you don't need to be connected to the internet to use it.

Once you hit the road, your GPS will trigger the app to automatically start playing.

Bears and other wildlife can often be spotted foraging along Highway 93 in Kootenay National Park. (Jason Leo Bantle)

Narrated by Parks Canada staff

The app also includes family-friendly quizzes and 11 stories narrated by past and present Parks Canada staff.

"This is parks staff telling anecdotal stories about a plethora of things from forest fires to wildlife and history," said Peters.

She says, so far, the feedback has been positive and some "serendipitous things" have already happened to people using the app while traveling through the park.

"They were hearing story about wolves and… they actually saw four wolves at that time."

Explora Kootenay is Parks Canada's first driving tour app.


With files from the Calgary Eyeopener

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