Now that we have to stay at home to help “flatten the curve” of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, it’s likely that lots of bucket-list trips have been cancelled. But don’t let that keep you down, as these virtual tours of national parks will keep you occupied until you can travel again. Now you can travel virtually to US National Parks from the comfort of your home.
This means that you don’t have to wait for your trip, you can start exploring right now by virtually touring some of the main attractions at these stunning parks. While there are many parks you can visit using these tours, here are the best ways you can (re)create these experiences without ever leaving home.
These Are The Virtual Tours Of National Parks You Can Take
Take A 360-degree Virtual Tour Of The Main Attractions
Google Arts & Culture has teamed up with the American National Park Service to offer virtual tours through five amazing parks. These immersive, guided tours focus on lesser-known sites (as part of a series known as The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks), featuring everything from photos to videos, all accompanied by short narrations from park rangers about the flora and fauna and the park history. Visit the Kenai Fjords in Alaska, fly over Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, explore the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, go on a horseback ride through Utah’s Bryce Canyon, or snorkel in the coral reefs of Dry Tortugas in Florida.
Go Through Google Earth’s Exciting New Tours
Google Earth has teamed up with the National Park Service to offer virtual tours of 31 national parks throughout the United States. These don’t include recorded narration, but DO have stunning visuals which you could spend hours—days even!—clicking your way through. The parks you can visit are:
- Acadia National Park: Set primarily on Maine’s Mount Desert Island this park is marked by woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-scoured granite peaks and is known for its diverse wildlife.
- Arches National Park: Filled with sandstone monuments and rock formations, its most famous landmark is the 65-foot “Delicate Arch”.
- Badlands National Park: Located in South Dakota, its dramatic grassland landscapes span layered rock formations, steep canyons and towering spires filled with bison, and bighorn sheep.
- Big Bend National Park: Winding along the Chisos mountain range in southwest Texas, this scenic park features steep limestone cliffs and desert wildlife.
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park: Part of a deep, steep-walled gorge carved by the Gunnison River in western Colorado, this tour lets you explore the dramatic colours of the canyon.
- Bryce Canyon National Park: This park is actually a giant natural amphitheatre filled with magnificent colourful rock formations in southern Utah.
- Canyonlands National Park: Set in southeastern Utah, it is known for its dramatic desert landscape carved by the Colorado River, the towering rock pinnacles known as the Needles, and is also home to Native American rock paintings.
- Channel Islands National Park: Comprising five ecologically rich islands off the Southern California coast, you can explore many sea caves, marine wildlife, and even an old lighthouse.
- Cuyahoga Valley National Park: Lying along the Cuyahoga River between Cleveland and Akron in Ohio, it is famous for its waterfalls.
- Death Valley National Park: Straddling eastern California and Nevada, it’s home to North America’s lowest point and is known for its canyons, ghost towns, salt flats, and sand dunes.
- Denali National Park: Located in Alaska, it is known for legendary wildlife and big mountains.
- Dry Tortugas National Park: Set in the Gulf of Mexico in western Florida, its seven islands and protected coral reefs are home to a variety of sights from lighthouses to sea turtles.
- Everglades National Park: A 1.5-million-acre wetlands preserve in southern Florida, it is made up of coastal mangroves, sawgrass marshes and pine flatwoods that are home to hundreds of animal species.
- Glacier National Park: Located in Montana, it has over 700 stunning lakes, spanning three mountain ranges over a million acres.
- Grand Canyon National Park: Set along the Colorado River in Arizona, this park has breathtaking views, thrilling hiking trails, and beautiful waterfalls.
- Grand Teton National Park: Located near the more famous Yellowstone in Wyoming, it offers views of some of the most spectacular prairies surrounded by the majestic Teton Mountain Range.
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park: Located in North Carolina and Tennessee it’s famous for its mountains and valleys, and Southern Appalachian mountain culture.
- Guadalupe Mountains National Park: See the vast Chihuahuan Desert of western Texas with its bright-white Salt Basin Dunes, wildlife-rich grasslands and fossilized reef mountains.
- Joshua Tree National Park: A vast protected area in southern California known for rugged rock formations, stark desert landscapes, and unique twisted, bristled Joshua trees.
- Mesa Verde National Park: Located in southwest Colorado it’s known for its well-preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and panoramic canyon views.
- Mount Rainier National Park: A Washington state reserve southeast of Seattle, set around Mount Rainier and encompassing nearby volcanoes and valleys, it’s known for its summertime wildflower meadows.
- Olympic National Park: Covering nearly 1 million acres in Washington State, this park has everything from glacier-capped mountains to temperate rainforests and wild coastline.
- Redwood National and State Parks: A string of protected forests, beaches and grasslands along Northern California’s coast, famous for its giant redwood trees.
- Rocky Mountain National Park: Set in Colorado, it is famous for its stunning sweeping vistas, 150 lakes, tall mountains, and miles and miles of streams.
- Sequoia National Park: Located in California’s southern Sierra Nevada mountains, it’s known for its giant sequoia trees, underground caves and striking rock formations.
- Shenandoah National Park: A part of the Blue Ridge Mountains, this narrow park is bordered by rolling hills and is home to serene waterfalls.
- Virgin Islands National Park: It occupies one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and its beaches are fringed by coral reefs, forests, and old sugar plantations.
- Wind Cave National Park: Set in South Dakota, it’s known for its vast, underground caves which are rich in calcite formations, as well as pine forests home to bison, elk and pronghorn antelopes.
- Yellowstone National Park: Covers over 2 million acres in Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana and is home to beautiful lakes, steep mountains, and famous geysers.
- Yosemite National Park: Famous for its gorgeous waterfalls, unique granite rock formations, and beautiful pine forests.
- Zion National Park: Rock towers, sandstone canyons, and sharp cliffs are a major draw in this park set along the Virgin River.
Watch A Live Stream Of Some Amazing Natural Phenomena
You may not be able to visit in person, but you can still travel virtually to US National Parks, and see their stunning views as well as some breathtaking natural phenomena you might otherwise miss. Many national parks have webcams set up so that people all over the world can enjoy these sights. See the eruption of the Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone, or watch brown bears fishing for salmon via the webcam in Alaska’s Katmai National Park. You can also admire the cherry blossoms at the National Mall, watch water cascade down Yosemite Falls, or see fish darting in and out of the ocean at the Channel Islands National Park ocean webcam.
Explore Interactive Tours Of These Parks
If virtual tours aren’t enough for you, you may prefer the more specific multimedia tours created by a number of national parks. Through a series of maps, photos and videos, both new and historic, these interactive tours explore a single place or topic in a national park in great depth. Learn about the archaeology in the Grand Canyon, or the Upper Geyser Basin at Yellowstone National Park. You can also find out more about the thermal waters at Hot Springs National Park and the historic windmills and plantations at Virgin Islands National Park. There is no comprehensive index of all the multimedia tours of national parks, but part of the fun of these tours is stumbling upon them yourself while exploring individual park websites.
Which Virtual Tour Are You Going To Pick?
So, while lots of National Parks offer virtual tours of their top sights, there are lots of ways you can explore them. From 360-degree tours to live webcams, you can travel virtually to US National Parks from the comfort of your home. Learn more about the history and the diverse wildlife of these places. Travelling virtually is the closest a lot us are going to get to the great outdoors during a lockdown. But, these virtual tours of National Parks can be a joyful distraction, or even worth bookmarking for a future trip.