In the United States, there are 62 national parks, but the entire National Park System has over 400 national park sites, including battlefields, historical sites, memorials, and monuments. The best part? You can tour many of these national park sites virtually. Learn how to take a virtual tour and explore the national parks with our guide.
What is a virtual national park tour?
A virtual tour allows you to go almost anywhere in the world – right from your laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet. You can explore glaciers from the cozy comfort of your house, or peek into a volcano without getting your eyebrows singed. While a virtual tour isn’t the same as being at a national park in person, it’s a great alternative and allows you to visit amazing places while travel is limited.
Virtual tours come in many different forms. Some may include photos and maps, while others can be fully interactive, including audio, video, and panoramic views you can click through, allowing you to explore and experience the sights and sounds. Many of these tours include unique facts about these pristine areas of wilderness and the animals that live there.
How to go on a virtual national park tour
The first place to start is on the National Park Service website, the ultimate resource on all national parks. From activities specifically for kids, to 360-degree tours, the website offers a virtual experience for the whole family.
- Explore virtual events, including live virtual tours. The calendar also includes virtual lectures and other events that you can tune into to celebrate culture and history.
- Watch a webcam. You can see live views of your favorite national parks, and depending on the season, other special webcams, like live footage of new sled dog puppies in Denali National Park, or watch Old Faithful erupt in Yellowstone National Park.
- Check out a 360-degree video of Channel Islands National Park or Crater Lake National Park. Bonus: you get to explore these areas with two celebrities!
- If you want something more kid-friendly, visit Grand Canyon National Park and Gateway National Recreation Area with Elmo and friends.
Beyond the wealth of virtual content the National Park Service has, you can also check out Google Arts and Culture’s The Hidden Worlds of National Parks. This site offers 360-degree views of your favorite National Parks using the familiar Google Maps functionality which allows you to click through the park to explore. In addition, the project also includes five in-depth and interactive virtual tours of national parks across the country, including Hawai’i Volcanos National Park and Carlsbad Canyons National Park. These tours include narration and teaching from real park rangers and helps you experience the parks through sight, sound, and history.
You can also immerse yourself in a national park with a virtual reality (VR) experience. Gala360 allows you to explore national parks using a VR headset through pictures taken by professional photographers and music to enhance the experience.
Even though many of us are staying at home right now, there are still ways to explore and learn. Whether you’re taking the kids on a virtual field trip, or want to do a little adventuring on your own, your whole family can virtually experience the arts, culture, and wonder that this world has to offer with just an internet connection.
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