For all those techno-nuts who can’t stand the idea of being sans-cellphone for an entire ski day, we’ve rounded up the most useful apps for making the most of your next mountain adventure, from front door to the last bus home.
• CDOT Mobile — Amy Ford, director of communications for the Colorado Department of Transportation, said CDOT is actually shifting away from its downloadable app and encouraging people to, instead, bookmark the http://www.cotrip.org website on their mobile devices.
“We just re-launched our CoTrip website, and now it’s a totally responsive designed website,” she said. “That website goes for your phone, tablet — any device you are on.”
Ford said CDOT recognized that people needed another tool to access travel information all in one place without the battery-sapping inefficiencies of an app. The updated mobile site, which went live this past fall, includes an interactive, layered map with features such as construction alerts, road conditions and average traffic speeds.
One of the most popular elements of the old app, the live traffic cameras, is also easily accessible via the cameras icon in the interactive map. Ford said there are about 45 such cameras monitoring the Interstate 70 corridor between the Denver International Airport and Vail, providing a comprehensive view of the stretch and inflow points in spots such as Silverthorne. CoTrip also offers a new route-planning feature.
“You can plug in your trip, say Vail to DIA, and view all the travel alerts in that corridor, all the cameras, speed data and road conditions for that particular route trip,” Ford said. “It’s also running our I-70 mountain radio station. It goes live in the corridor Friday, Saturday and Sunday and holiday Mondays, that kind of thing. You can stream a radio broadcast of what’s happening directly in the corridor.”
If you’re more comfortable using the old CDOT app, then have no fear: The magical, color-coded travel speed gauge isn’t going anywhere. The app pulls its information from the CoTrip website, which is updated 24 hours a day, so it will continue to function as usual, Ford said.
You shouldn’t be looking at a map while you’re driving, so be sure to check conditions before heading out or entrust navigation to a co-pilot. Ford also said that people have had some trouble locating some of the old app’s features on the new site, or have asked why particular routes don’t show up on the new route-planning tool.
“We picked the primary routes through the state and will continue to add more and more over time,” she said. “And some folks who say, on your old mobile version of the site, you used to have a page that just had shields of the highways and gave in text version what is happening on those roads. So we’re going to put that back in; we’re in the process of working on that right now.”
Also in the works is a snowplow tracker, a real-time map showing the locations, travel speeds and directions traveled by CDOT’s fleet of snowplows. CDOT will continue to make improvements to the CoTrip website based on user feedback.
Other travel resources
• VailDaily.com — Bookmark http://www.vaildaily.com on your mobile device for the most up-to-date information on news, events, sports and activities around the valley. Use the site menu in the upper-right corner for easier browsing, and find an extensive calendar of local events under the “Entertainment” header.
• HomeAway and Vacation Rentals by Owner — Type in your destination, arrival and departure days and number of guests and this app will generate lodging options, sortable by price. You can also view a map with the properties pinpointed, if you are looking to stay close to a particular landmark.
• Your favorite bank — Whether you’re in Vail as a visitor or a longtime local, it doesn’t hurt to download the app for your favorite financial institution to track your expenses on the fly. Most banks will let you view balances and transfer money from one account to another, and some offer other features such as check scanning and fee-free ATM locators.
• NOAA Weather Radar Live Doppler — There are dozens of apps available that pull weather information from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency that includes the National Weather Service line office. Susan Buchanan, spokesperson for the National Weather Service, said the apps are all generated by the private sector and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration doesn’t endorse any particular app over another.
“They give us credit because we provide the foundational data that the app uses,” she said. “It’s all public data.”
NOAA Weather Radar Live Doppler, created by Apalon Apps, received some of the highest reviews for the collection of NOAA apps, with users commending its accuracy and frequency of updates. Radar and satellite overlays show real-time rain, snow, mixed precipitation and cloud cover in clear and vibrant colors.
For powder hounds, the app has a snow-depth map that shows local and global snow layers, and you can see what’s coming down the pipe with 24-hour and three-day forecasts, in addition to current conditions.
Other weather resources
• Colorado Snow Map — This app lets you quickly view and compare snow report information for ski resorts across Colorado in a single glance, plus snowfall totals for the past 24 hours, three days or week. It’s a good reference to decide where to ride, but be sure to pair it with the CDOT site to make sure you can get to that power stash.
• OpenSnow Ski Forecasts & Reports Search for and add the Colorado Daily Snow and Favorite Mountains to your home screen to view forecast outlooks and Doppler radar for the region, plus individual mountain stats such as daily and weekly snow totals, temperatures and mountain cams for your top resorts.
• Colorado Avalanche Information Center — If backcountry skiing is more your jam, then download the CAIC app. Areas of the snowpack are color coded from low to extreme avalanche danger, or navigate to geographical areas or sections of mountain ranges to view individual avalanche summaries.
• EpicMix — EpicMix has revolutionized the way skiers and riders experience Vail Resorts mountains, said Stacie Mesuda, communications specialist at Beaver Creek Resort. The app allows you to check snow conditions, track vertical feet and earn virtual pins for various accomplishments, such as riding certain combinations of chairlifts or visiting on holidays.
“New this year is EpicMix Time, which allows guests to access real-time liftline wait times,” Mesuda said. “With access to up-to-the-minute chairlift and gondola line wait times, skiers and riders can navigate the mountain and make the most of their day.”
EpicMix Racing allows you to compare your race times to World Cup skier Lindsey Vonn, or you can use the app to track progress in Ski and Snowboard School or create a plan for your day with EpicMix Guide. Passholders can share vertical feet, pins and photos on social media by linking a Facebook or Twitter account to the app.
The data is collected through a radio-frequency ID chip embedded in season passes and day tickets. Scanners at the base of each chairlift pick up the chip and track skiers and snowboarders as they load.
Two major complaints reviewers had of the EpicMix app for this season were its slow load times and that the ski-through scanners would often fail to recognize a pass. For the best results, Mesuda recommended wearing your pass in a chest or arm pocket.
“Due to the geographical complexity of our resorts and the differences in devices and cellular coverage, the performance of loading data can vary,” she said. “Don’t carry electronic devices or anything else with RF technology in the same location as your pass, as this may interfere with the scan process.”
Other on-mountain resources
• Ski Tracks GPS Track Recorder — This app comes with a 99-cent price tag and touts itself as the most downloaded ski-tracking app on iPhone. It uses GPS to track your progress and spits it out in stats or profile graphs. It’s also battery-friendly, claiming to record up to 14 hours of data on a standard cellphone battery. The Ski Tracks Lite version is also available without a fee.
• FATMAP Ski — Another GPS-enabled app, this one uses virtual reality and 3-D fly-through images of piste and classic off-piste lines to help skiers navigate. Freeriders can also tap into the essential terrain intelligence menu to assess risk zones and slope gradients. A premium, subscription-based version of the app is also available.
• Ski Pursuit — Created by ski powerhouse Rossignol, this app also uses GPS to record maximum and average speed, duration, distance, ascent and descent and will show you a view of your run on an interactive map.
• Instagram — Pro skier Taylor Seaton, of Avon, said he uses Instagram to share with the public what he’s up to on a daily basis and keep in touch with friends around the globe without having to make a phone call or send a text, email or Facebook message.
“They could be across the other side of the world, but usually if they get injured or anything, they’ll post something about it,” he said. “That keeps me up to date with all my other fellow professional skiers and snowboarders and people who aren’t doing it on a professional basis, just friends you’ve met throughout the years.”
If you find a cool image or video, then you can tag a friend’s username in the comments section and it pops up on their activity feed, so it’s easy to share with your friends if you find a cool post, Seaton said.
“It’s also fun to use the explore part of it, where based on people you follow, and what those people are following, you can find a lot of unique brands, a lot of fun people and that kind of stuff,” he said.
Seaton said the app is an easy way to get exposure, especially through hashtagging his sponsors, either in the photo captions or tagging the actual photo so his posts show up in the sponsors’ tagged-by-others queue. Of all the features on Instagram, he said hashtags are probably the one he uses the most.
“I’m always exploring new hashtags,” he said. “The two I use the most are #VailLive and #PardeeOn for Tony Seibert.”
Seaton recently punched his ticket to the Winter X Games in Aspen, and you can follow his journey @taylorseaton, or browse through his list of favorite Instagrammers: John Spriggs (jahspriggs), Corey Seemann (screamincmon), Hunter Schleper (schleper), David Graebel (dgraebel), Broby Leeds (brobyleeds), John O’Neill (johnroneill) and the team at Buzz’s Boards (buzzsboards).
While you’re at it, check out posts from local celebrities Lindsey Vonn (lindseyvonn), Mikaela Shiffrin (mikaelashiffrin) and Ryan Sutter (ryansutter); the Vail Daily (vail daily) and its On the Hill reporters Ross Leonhart (colorado_livin_on_the_hill), (John LaConte (johnlaconte) and occasional contributor Ken Hoeve (kenhoeve); and it never hurts to follow Vail (vailmtn) and Beaver Creek (beavercreek).
Other social networking resources
• Facebook and Twitter — If you aren’t up to speed on Facebook and Twitter, then you’ve likely had your head in a hole for the better part of the past decade. Facebook is a platform for posting, sharing, liking and following, and Twitter challenges you to wax eloquently about any given topic in 140 characters or fewer.
• SkiTownConnect — The goal of this app is to take the anxiety out of meeting people. It lets users create profiles and then links them to information on people, sports, events and activities in the area that fit their profile. A key feature is the events section, which lists events and gives users the framework to put together and promote their own events.
• LuvByrd — Sort of a dating site, but not entirely, luvbyrd.com is for people seeking outdoor adventures and people with which to enjoy them. It lets you filter potential partners by their favorite activities and skill levels. Or, if you are feeling more superficial, there’s always Tinder.
• OpenTable — The OpenTable app allows you to find restaurants near a certain location (Vail, for instance) based on the name of the restaurant, type of cuisine or special features, such as happy hour. A large number of local restaurants are represented, and you can make reservations right from your phone or other mobile device.
“It’s really easy for the guest to use, so if we’re not here to answer the phone — if they are making a reservation outside normal dinner hours — they can, at their own convenience, go to OpenTable and complete a reservation,” said Nancy Dowell, owner at Grouse Mountain Grill in Avon.
Users can also search for a restaurant based on having a table available at a certain time for a certain number of diners, or look through lists such as best food or best contemporary American dining compiled from OpenTable user reviews.
“People like to weigh in on how everything went, and then OpenTable takes those feedback information forms and they compile their lists of their most popular restaurants, based on feedback given by their guests,” Dowell said. “It’s the most real feedback you can get. You can’t comment on a restaurant unless you completed your reservation and dined at the restaurant.”
It also works as a marketing platform for restaurants to reach customers, potentially increasing their visibility. Grouse Mountain Grill has been connected to OpenTable since it first became available locally, Dowell said, and it’s become a popular app for travelers.
“It’s definitely a familiar app to most of our guests who are very well-traveled,” she said. “It’s not scary, it’s easy to use.”
Other apres-friendly apps
• Untappd — Untappd can help you find nearby bars and breweries and view which beers are trending in your area. You can also “check in” to show what you’re drinking and share your tasting notes about particular beers with other friends who use the app. Another app, TapHunter, has a few similar features and also lets you follow particular beers so you can find your favorites wherever you might be.
• Weed Finder — This app color codes marijuana-related businesses to show you locations for dispensaries, grow shops and head shops, among other categories. It’s pretty basic, with information limited to addresses and reviews. Weedmaps and Wherijuana have more features but fewer locations listed in the Vail area. Both of these apps will show you dispensaries nearby, with product menus and customer reviews.
• NextBus — Vail Transit routes and times can be viewed through the NextBus app or by bookmarking the NextBus mobile page. The app will pull up the bus stop closest to you and tell you which routes feed it and when those buses are arriving, along with maps of each route. Uber and Lyft have limited availability in the Vail Valley.
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