Auto tour guides go digital: Nez Perce NHT adds 92 sites along trail to mobile app

By: Kristine Komar, President, Bitter Root Cultural Heritage Trust, Nez Perce NHT partner

As someone who is passionate about sharing the stories of the Nez Perce (Nee-Me-Poo) National Historic Trail and the Nez Perce people, NPNHT Administrator Sandra Broncheau-McFarland works diligently with partners to create access to and interpretation for the trail. An early adopter of technology, she recently found a way to share the NPNHT Auto Tour guides with a wider audience. Working with the U.S. Forest Service Washington Office Heritage Program and partner Bitter Root Cultural Heritage Trust, all eight of the auto tour guides for the trail have been loaded onto the Next Exit History app. Now all 92 sites along the 1,170 mile trail are available in an easily accessible digital format.

Developed by a team of historians and instructional designers, the Next Exit History app is committed to building the most robust database of historical and cultural sites on the planet (currently more than 60,000 sites, including some along the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail). The app is free and can be downloaded from the iOS or Android app store. The digital app uses GPS and saves paper and printing as the guides are available on your mobile phone or tablet, wherever there is connectivity. And not to worry if there isn’t—just plan ahead and download each guide as a Next Exit History “backpack.” Backpacks are then available on your device without connectivity. Another bonus is that you don’t have to wait to travel to a point of interest to access Next Exit History; you can explore the NPNHT from your living room or backyard, from almost anywhere.

The full set of eight auto tour guides are rich resources. Beautifully illustrated, they provide wayshowing to points of interest along the trail and provide routes for mainstream travelers as well as routes for rugged travelers with high clearance, four-wheel drive vehicles. The guides also recommend hikes and present a range of points of view regarding the 1877 war and flight of the Nez Perce, the U.S. military, and settlers. Timelines connect points and sidebars abound, providing travelers interesting notes related to the story of the Flight of 1877 with many suggestions for additional resources for readers to peruse, including the NPNHT website, You’ll find a comprehensive bibliography, youth activities, videos, maps, and on the life skills and traditions of the Nez Perce people. Now that the auto tour guides are loaded onto Next Exit History, the next step will be to add more material to the app.

Getting the auto tour guides onto a digital platform was important to Broncheau-McFarland. “The Forest Service—our whole world—is encouraging less printing, so getting the guides onto the Next Exit History platform makes great sense,” she said. “It will make the trail more available and we are thrilled that we will be able to continue to add material to the app, providing a meaningful experience for all who travel the Nez Perce Trail.”

“We’re grateful to Doug Stephens, Forest Service National Heritage Program, who extended the opportunity for the NPNHT to utilize Next Exit History, and to Ana Perez, Resource Assistant to the National Heritage Program, who loaded the text and images onto the platform. And to the Bitter Root Cultural Heritage Trust who coordinated the effort for us,” Broncheau-McFarland said.

For more information on the NPNHT or the Next Exit History project, contact: or

For more information on the Next Exit History app, visit:

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