A different type of ranger is now available to help visitors to Kansas State Parks have a more enjoyable time.

A different type of ranger is now available to help visitors to Kansas State Parks have a more enjoyable time.

The Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism has partnered with Pocket Ranger to develop and launch a mobile phone app for the Kansas State Parks system. The system provides a wide variety of information for visitors to the parks.

Among the features are: interactive GPS, mapping technology for tracking trails, marking way points and locating landmarks in the parks.

Another feature, the Friend Finder, does exactly what its name implies. It provides a way to locate friends in the park no matter where they are located. In emergencies, an Alert feature gives GPS coordinates to designated contacts.

The system also allows visitors to store park maps before they are on site. The maps can be used even if the guest loses reception.

“The maps are particularly helpful,” said Ron Kaufman, KDWPT director of information.

For those seeking special challenges, the GeoChallenge for the novice explorer and the GeoCacher for the more advanced hunter provide various geoquest activities and games during the year.

Also available on the app are a list of park locations, hours of operation, schedule of events, a reservation site for cabins or campsites plus rules and regulations.

Kansas State Parks Pocket Ranger is free and available now on iTunes and PocketRanger.com and will soon be available on Android phones, Kaufman said.

Those with Blackberry and feature phones can use the mobile website version of the Kansas State Parks Pocket Ranger.

Contact is also available at ksoutdoors.com then click on State Parks then click on the Pocket Ranger guide on the right side of the page or go to the company website at www.packetranger.com.

The parks system had explored options for an app for visitors. Parks by Nature put out Pocket Ranger and it appealed to KDWPT for their needs so it was launched.

Besides providing a wealth of information for park visitors, the app was available at no cost to KDWPT so they made it available, free of charge, to the visitors.

“This is the first foray into the apps arena for us,” Kaufman said. “It’s a great way to serve the customer and not spend any money other than for staff time.”

The initial response was impressive. The app was launched May 22 and in the first couple of weeks it was No. 34 on iTunes for free downloads.

“It got an excellent reception,” Kaufman said.

Some of the features aren’t fully functional yet but as time goes by more and more features will go active. Every time someone uses the app it will automatically provide the latest updates.

So far the app is working as expected without any problems.

Kansas joins 12 other states to use Pocket Ranger. So far, Kansas has had the best response of all states with the app, Kaufman said.

With summer just starting, the state parks system is encouraging visitors to use Pocket Range to improve their park experience.

“Try it out and take advantage of it,” Kaufman said. “And watch for updates.”