ArcGIS Instant Apps

Same Data, Different Stories: Instant Apps Showcasing National Parks

ArcGIS Instant Apps quickly transform your maps into apps to provide your audience with an intuitive experience to interact with your maps and data. This blog illustrates how you can highlight different stories from the same data or map using a handful of Instant Apps. All the examples will use National Park data and maps. Using different Instant Apps, we can answer a variety of questions and showcase specific map features. 

The seven Instant Apps were created using the following datasets from the National Park Service:
National Park Boundaries 

National Park Service Trails 

National Park Service POIs 

National Park Visits 

National Park Timeline 


Instant App #1: Zone Lookup 

This app was inspired by this blog post. The Zone Lookup Instant App returns information about a zone (polygon) based on a location; think searching for your school zone based on your location. In this app, we used the nearest National Park theissian polygons idea from the previously mentioned blog post as the polygon layer identified in the search. The point of interests and trails were included as well, so that when an address is searched and a polygon is identified, points of interests and trails located in that polygon are returned.  

A Zone Lookup App with a searched location of Redlands, California with points of interest and trails returned

In simpler terms, when an address is searched the polygon with the closest National Park is identified and lists of points of interests and trails located in the identified National Park are displayed! 

Here we are really highlighting the identification of nearby National Parks and interesting features within the park! 

Instant App #2: Attachment Viewer 

Perhaps the simplest app created, this app shows the location and an image of each National Park. The Attachment Viewer Instant App allows easy exploration of feature attachments, with attachment focused tools and multiple layout options. The images were added to the National Parks layer through the attribute table in Map Viewer Classic. Then the Attachment Viewer app was created from that map and voila! You have a picture filled app that zooms to a picture and location for each park. 

Instant App #3: Countdown 

For this app, we merged the National Parks Visits data to the National Park data from the earlier app to create an app ranking the most popular National Parks. The Countdown Instant App enables you to create an interactive “top-ten” experience that tours through a statistical map. The app itself ranks National Parks based on their 2020 visits and includes charts illustrating annual visits for each park since 2011. These charts were incorporated using charts within the pop-ups in the New Map Viewer. 

A Countdown App showing Zion National Park as the 6th most visited National Park.

Instant App #4: 3D Viewer 

Going in a completely different direction, this app is based off a 3D Scene and is focused on a singular park, the Grand Canyon. The 3D Viewer Instant App showcases scenes and provides new capabilities to interact with 3D data. Meant to act as a hiking route planner, the app includes trails and POIs in the Grand Canyon. A couple cool features in the app are the elevation profile and measurement tools that enable you to measure both elevation changes and distance. Basically, this app makes it easy for you to be as lazy or as ambitious of a hiked as you’d like. 

A 3D Viewer App of the Grand Canyon with an elevation profile for a trail

Instant App #5: Minimalist 

If you want to highlight pop-ups, the Minimalist Instant App is a great option. In this app, the pop-ups are displayed in a side panel, rather than above the map, making it much easier to read. Overall, the app is very simplistic; only showing the parks and their data in the pop-up panel. This gives you a much less overwhelming experience, as minimalist essentially lets you easily navigate the map through an app. 

A Minimalist Instant App showing a pop-up in the side panel for Joshua Tree National Park

Instant App #6: Media Map 

The Media Map Instant App is the way to go for time data. For the National Parks, the Media Map app was used to visualize the growth of National Parks over time using the year established as the time data. Starting with one park in 1872, and ending with the 63 there are now.

Instant App #7: Portfolio 

Rounding out the list of apps used is the Portfolio Instant App! A logical place to end, this app allows you to showcase ArcGIS Online content related to a topic all in one place, in this case, the National Parks. Portfolio makes it easier to navigate between multiple apps and avoids the hassle of sharing a handful of long links.   

A Portfolio Instant App opened to the Media Map section that highlights the number of National Parks in 1960

Overall, using these Instant Apps makes it easier for the viewers to digest the data, is much more user friendly than sharing a typical map, and allows you to easily create polished final products! 

About the authors

A 2021 Summer Intern with the Instant Apps Team.


Beth is a Product Engineer on the ArcGIS Online team.

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