Exploring National Parks From The Comforts Of Your Home

Chris Soash
April 16, 2012
Filed under RV Blog

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Greetings from the Grand Canyon!

Well, actually I’m at my desk in Minneapolis… but I just got done going on a 10-mile hike down the Havasupai Trail in the Grand Canyon, not more than 5 minutes ago. Black magic you say? No, I stopped practicing that last year. My Southwestern adventure was made possible by a piece of technology that’s been around for about 5 years now, but more recently has been put to a new, more adventurous use.

Trail View 360-degree camera

The Trail View 360-degree backpack camera

When Google launched its “street-view” technology back in May of 2007, it seemed like an incredible leap forward in the way we view our surroundings. You could literally jump to anywhere in the world and virtually “walk around.” It still offers incredible directional information with a slightly intriguing, voyeuristic edge. When it first launched, I know I wasn’t the only one to immediately type in my home address and check out the neighborhood that I see in real life everyday. But for some reason it was just more interesting and kind of creepy when viewing it on the computer.

Nature Valley Trail View Homepage

The Nature Valley Trail View Homepage

The folks over at Nature Valley have taken this idea and pushed it one step further. We all know we can get directions from Google, but what about hiking through National Parks and exploring the incredible trails that our country offers? They’ve done just that with Nature Valley Trail View. The website boasts street-view technology through three National Parks and over 300 miles of trails.

I recently sat down and decided to check out some of these trails for myself. The website is very easy to navigate and offers you three parks to choose from: The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone or The Great Smokey Mountains. I decided to head to The Grand Canyon for my mid-day getaway.

Once you’ve chosen a park to explore, you have the option of going to multiple trails within the park, ranging from short half-mile hikes to longer hikes that would take a full day or more, if you were actually walking them. One of the features in the website is an auto-play button with three speeds (2x, 5x, and 8x). That way you can cruise right through sections at any speed you desire.

Havasu Falls

A view of Havasu Falls from my hike

The site also features different “Call Outs” with interesting information regarding select spots along the different trails. Some of the callouts even offer amazing 360º, hi-def, interactive photos. There is a little camera icon that you can click and take digital snapshots of exactly what you’re seeing on the screen. It makes for a fun, interactive day out on the trails.

So the next time you’re sitting at home bored or need a little getaway during your lunch break in the office, check out www.naturevalleytrailview.com. It’s definitely worth a little exploration.

Cheers,

~Chris

 

 

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