BLM’s new electronic maps make finding new outdoor adventures easy

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Digital maps allow the user to pinpoint their exact location on their mobile phone in areas where service may be sparse.
Digital maps allow the users to pinpoint their exact location on their mobile phone in areas where service may be sparse. (BLM-Utah)

The Bureau of Land Management recently released electronic maps that are compatible with most Android and iOS devices. These maps show prime recreation opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts on Utah’s public lands.

Jenna Whitlock, acting State Director for BLM-Utah, expressed her excitement.

“We are excited to put the public lands into visitors’ hands with these new mobile device maps,” Whitlock said in a press release. “These new tools help to showcase Utah’s spectacular recreation opportunities.”

National Parks in Utah have many visitors, especially during summer months, and can be dangerous if visitors don’t know the terrain.

“Maps are super important when you are hiking if you have not done the trail before. I have gotten lost a few times when I think I am on the right trail but it turns out I even started at the wrong trail-head,” said Rebecca Jones, owner of Utah-based Instagram account @packforadventure. “Once you get off the super popular trails, the trails themselves are less defined and route finding can sometimes become an issue.”

Jones said search and rescue teams often have to rescue people because they’re lost, not because they’re injured.

“Plan ahead and do a little research before you hit the trail,” Jones said. “I always do, and it helps me better pack for adventure.”

BLM-Utah understood this need for more accessible maps and partnered with the Great Basin Institute’s Research Associate Program for the development and integration of the maps.

“It is exciting to see our partnership evolving to promote recreation safety and awareness through technological advancements,” said Jerry Keir, the program’s executive director, in a press release. “We are serving both user groups and public lands by increasing real-time information availability.”

The maps feature a number of different recreational sites near Utah communities, including the new wildlands disc golf course near Cedar City, the McCoy Flats mountain biking trail system near Vernal and hiking trails that connect to Kanab.

“I like how useful it is,” said Lain Geest, a BYU senior and avid outdoorsman. “I would use something like this, and I think it would be great for people looking for fun things to do.”

The BLM’s new digital maps give hikers insights into new trails right on their mobile device. (BLM-Utah)

Geest, a college student on a budget, expressed some concerns about the new feature.

“It is kind of a bummer that you have to pay for a lot of the individual maps,” Geest said. “So if you don’t want to pay, at least it gives you a good general idea of where things are.”

While these maps can be utilized to navigate without cellular reception, users will need a geo-spatial PDF, GeoPDF® or GeoTIFF reader for Apple iOS or Android smartphones and tablets to view the maps. Unlike paper maps, BLM’s maps can use geo-referencing to display the current user’s location in real time. BLM-Utah will continue to make improvements and develop new maps throughout the year.

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