You can take a virtual hike of Joshua Tree and The Yellowstone thanks to Google Earth’s virtual tours.
There’s no doubt that one of the greatest luxuries in America is exploring its rich, rolling landscapes. Nothing beats the fresh smell of a Redwood forest, the steep cliffs of the Yosemite and the rugged valleys filled with roaming buffalo. While we find ourselves sinking deeper into the pillows of our couch during self-isolation, there couldn’t be a better time to snake down the dusty trails of the Grand Canyon, bump into some virtual hikers and examine the moss flourishing on the giant rocks.
While parks aren’t officially closed to the public as of yet, many of us may not have the opportunity to venture out into the great outdoors just yet. Thankfully, last year Google Earth introduced virtual tours of 31 of the country’s incredible national parks, which you can view here. The satellite imagery allows you to zoom right into every nook and cranny of a cliffside or take in sweeping aerial views. Here are our top ten virtual hikes for you to explore!
1. Acadia National Park, Maine
Take one of the most challenging trails of the North Atlantic coast’s “crown jewel”. The Precipice Trail forces hikers up a steep vertical of the Champlain Mountain. While not everyone is up for the task the breathtaking of the rugged coastline views are worth the dizzy vertigo.
2. Arches National Park, Utah
Lose yourself in the mesmerizing red-hued land of 2,000 natural sandstone arches and stare straight into the North Window’s eye-shaped openings. The Arches National Park has the highest concentration of these unique natural stone arches in the world, along with pinnacles, balanced rocks, fins and other incredible geological formations.
3. Death Valley National Park, California & Nevada
Welcome to one of the hottest places on earth. Dig into the ruins of the 1905 gold-mining town, Rhyolite. The haunting ghost town is made up of a straight open road embedded in volcanic rock and it will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a Western (or Mars).
4. The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
The 18-by-277-mile UNESCO World Heritage Site is not to be missed on your virtual adventures. The unmistakable smooth, red layers of rock and dead drops are thrilling. Even from home. Google Earth allows you to trek along the Bright Angel Trail, known as the “superhighway”.
5. Joshua Tree National Park, California
Step into the otherworldly land of twisted rocks and spikey fauna, straddling the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert. Do a bit of the 1.5 mile Barker Dam trail, winding between the serene stacks of beige boulders without the usual queues.
6. Yellowstone National Park, California
Visit this diverse park’s hottest, oldest and most dynamic thermal areas without the heat. You can wander around the vivid The Norris Geyser Basin which is the tallest in the world! It’s so far above sea level that the boiling point is 199°F.
7.Yosemite National Park, California
With 2.2 million acres of land, this park alone could fulfill every hiking dream alone. The park is filled with diverse geography, natural attractions and phenomena. This trail allows you to take the panoramic views of monoliths, the Half Dome and the sheer granite face of El Capitan.
8.The Virgin Islands National Park, Virgin Islands
The lush, green valleys are a breath of fresh air. Wander through the shady forest passes of the sugar-plantation ruins and marvel at the ancient Taino petroglyphs carvings.
9. Redwood National and State Parks, California
Redwood National and State Parks have some of the world’s tallest and oldest trees. The park is made up of protected forests, coastline and grasslands. A serene virtual walk among the towering Redwood clusters of Lady Bird Johnson Grove will make you forget that you’re inside altogether.
10. Zion National Park, Utah
Thrill-seeker’s paradise is still incredible from a desktop. This virtual trail allows you to brush up close to the powdery sandstone cliffs of the Court of the Patriarchs. The Three peaks take their names from biblical figures Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
[Featured Image: shutterstock]