Wednesday, August 05, 2020

From Mountain High to Valley Low

Over the last few months, during lock-down, I have been enjoying expanding my horizons by exploring virtual tours of the world's museums. However it is not healthy to spend so much time inside - even virtually. Sometimes you also need to virtually explore the great outdoors.

Google Art & Culture's The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks takes you on a virtual journey to parts of America's National Parks that you normally don't get to see. This extended virtual tour uses a combination of Street View, 360 degree video, sound recordings and photographs to reveal some of the hidden wonders of nature in five of America's many National Parks.

There are five virtual tours in The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks. These are:
  • Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska
  • Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  • Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico
  • Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
  • Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida 
On each of these five separate tours of the National Parks a Park Ranger takes you on a virtual journey to see some of the park's hidden wonders. For example in the Dry Tortugas tour you get to dive underwater to view a shipwreck, a coral reef and also get to visit a civil war era fort. In Carlsbad Caverns you get to experience the incredible flight of thousands of bats. In Hawaii you can fly over flowing lava. In Alaska you can Kayak through icebergs and in Utah you can ride on horseback through a canyon.

After diving through a shipwreck you are probably ready to climb El Capitan. In 2015 Google decided to climb El Capitan in Yosemite. El Capitan, Yosemite is an incredibly thrilling Street View tour up the 3,000 foot vertical cliff of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. To capture this vertigo inducing panoramic imagery Google employed the help of three experienced climbers: Lynn Hill, Alex Honnold and Tommy Caldwell. Are you brave enough to join them by undertaking this virtual Street View climb? The reward is some astonishingly beautiful views.

If you enjoyed exploring the great outdoors with these virtual tours you may also enjoy Submarine Streetview, which looks at the virtual tours created by U.S. aquariums & zoos and also at the wonderful underwater Street View imagery available on Google Earth's The World's Ocean collection.

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