Go Exploring! These Apps Use the iPhone's Built-in GPS for Finding Adventure

GPS apps for iPhone adventures

photo by Andrew*

You're probably already familiar with the GPS capabilities of your iPhone, and how you can download apps that let the iPhone become a driving navigation system. That is probably the most common and well-known use of the iPhone GPS capability. There are plenty of awesome other apps that use the built-in GPS in innovative ways.

Here is a list of exciting ways to use GPS apps for exploring the world, finding adventure, mapping your trail or just finding an interesting path to the places you want to go.

Geocaching (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
Developer: Groundspeak Inc.
Price: $9.99 Download on the App Store

Go geocaching. Geocaching is a real-life treasure hunt game. The treasure (the "geocache") is usually just little trinket like a small figurine or toy. The idea is for the person who finds the trinket to take it, and leave a new trinket for the next geocacher to find on their own treasure hunt. You can get started with this new pastime by using the Geocaching app (free, $9.99).

BACKPACKER Map Maker Pro (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
Developer: Trimble Navigation Limited
Price: $4.99 Download on the App Store

Nothing connects you to the great outdoors like hiking. Whether you're trekking through tough terrain or wandering with wild flowers, exploring nature can be rejuvenating. Backpacker Magazine has been helping hikers hit the trails for years, and the Backpacker GPS Trails app continues the adventures for the iPhone generation. Use the app to download topographical maps, find or follow trails, geotag photos and share it all by connecting to your Backpacker account online. 


MotionX GPS Drive (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
MotionX GPS Drive
Developer: Fullpower Technologies, Inc.
Price: $0.99 Download on the App Store

Explore your city on foot! Don't let the name fool you, MotionX GPS Drive  includes excellent pedestrian navigation tools. In addition to constantly updated maps, the app integrates with Facebook places, Bing search and Wikipedia. You'll find tools for planning a multi-stop tour of any city and excellent destination information for every location along the way. On foot or four wheels, MotionX GPS Drive is an adventurer's best friend.

GeoEmpires (AppStore Link)
User Reviews
Developer: Archae s.r.o.
Price: free Download on the App Store

If you like the idea of "check-in to win" but are more impressed with global leaderboards and bragging rights than web 2.0 badges, then you're the type of competition-hungry overachiever that might enjoy the location-based game GeoEmpires. Connect with your friends and build an empire by visiting real places within your city. This game uses the iPhone's GPS to create a virtual world that requires real world actions to win. It's fun as long as your town has enough players.

What GPS apps do you use when you're in the mood for adventure? Drop a link in the comments so we can check it out.

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  • Brandon

    Geocaching has to be my favorite of the apps listed above, it's one of those times when you really get what you pay for. It links to the official geocaching.com community and they have tons of results, you could literally spend a weekend looking for caches all over town and never be finished not to mention new sites are being added daily.

    This is really fun if you have never done it before. You don't realize that you're exercising because you're always trying to the next cache, great fun for the family who wishes to start getting outdoors or families who go camping and hiking and looking for something new.