Here are five virtual US National Park Tours you can take from the comfort of home!
Does the coronavirus lockdown have you feeling anxious? Anne Frank hid in an attic with her entire family for two years without even a landline. But seriously, folks, with the continuing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak heavily impacting practically every country in the world, we are all attempting to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of this new virus strain by practicing social distancing and self-isolating.
Bars, movie theaters, restaurants, schools, and other places people congregate have all temporarily closed their doors. Even legitimate universities have temporarily gone the way of questionable commercial institutes, and have switched to online education formats. Some well-known tourist attractions are now only offering virtual tours which, if nothing else, certainly provide a welcome respite from cooking, cleaning, and Netflix.
So if you’re not up to the challenge Anne Frank faced or simply need a timely travel fix, we are here to help. Five US national parks have teamed up with Google Arts & Culture so that we can all enjoy tours of the beauty of nature while in voluntary quarantine. We will show you how to experience some of the best, most popular national parks in the United States, from Alaska to Florida from the security of your very own home.
We will show you how to get a good virus-free dose of the good ol’ great outdoors even when you’re stuck indoors. So fix yourself a cocktail, kick back, and prepare to enjoy our piece on five virtual United States National Parks tours you can take from the safety and comfort of your own couch.
1. Kenai Fjords National Park
Kenai Fjords National Park is located in the state of Alaska. This park’s virtual tour will allow you to explore frozen fjords, great glaciers, and incredible icebergs only found in the wilds of Alaska. You will be able to go kayaking through mighty icebergs, descend deep into an ice-cold crevasse. You’ll even see a glacier slowly melt and learn about the actual effects that climate change really has on this frosty terrain.
The National Park Service’s official website reports that there are more than 40 glaciers in Kenai Fjords’ Harding Icefield. In fact, your virtual tour opens on a peek into popular Exit Glacier. It is one of the few glaciers that are actually accessible from a road in this national park.
2. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park
Beautiful Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is found in the state of Hawaii on the isle of Hawaii. This national park was founded in August of 1916. In 1980 it was designated as an official International Biosphere Reserve because of its “outstanding natural values.”
Additionally, it was deemed an official UNESCO World Heritage Site seven years later (1987). Some hiking trails, road segments, the Jaggar Museum and the renowned Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are currently closed. Nevertheless, this virtual tour provides you with total access. Online you will seemingly “fly” over an active volcano, “fly” over an active volcano, take in the rather stunning view from the impressive volcanic coastal cliffs, and witness the lasting impact of an eruption from back in 1959. Finally, you will also be able to explore the noteworthy Nahuku Lava Tube, a cave created by flowing lava, which can actually drain lava from a real volcano during an eruption.
3. Carlsbad Caverns National Park
Next is New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Ensconced within the Chihuahuan Desert in the southern portion of New Mexico, this popular national park is located close to the base of the majestic Guadalupe Mountains. This park was deemed a national monument in 1923.
Seven years later, it was officially designated a national park. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage site over a decade later in 1995. Deep beneath the surface of this park, there are reportedly over 119 caves of various sizes that were created by sulfuric acid dissolving the limestone there.
Indeed, on the virtual tour, you can hike through some of the truly fascinating caverns found here. You can also see interesting rock formations and thousands of native bats who reside within this cave system. Perhaps most interestingly, you can even actually “experience as one of those bats due to this particular park’s stunning simulation.
4. Bryce Canyon National Park
You will find Bryce Canyon National Park in Southwestern Utah. This park is named after one of the more visited canyons which actually forms a group of horseshoe-shaped amphitheaters. It’s located on the edge of the popular Paunsaugunt Plateau at the very top of the famous Grand Staircase. This park has high elevations that feature distinct dark skies, various life communities, and numerous geological wonders.
The virtual tour will provide you with lovely views of the stunning scarlet and orange hoodoos that make this desert landscape famous no matter what time of the year you “visit.” You will visit Sunset Point where you will be able to take in the stunning star-sprinkled sky from this officially “Dark Sky certified” US national park. Additionally, you will be able to take a rousing horseback ride through the canyon and a surprisingly close look at all the unique rock formations in this park as well.
5. Dry Tortugas National Park
You will find the Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. According to the National Park Service’s official website, this severely underrated, remote park can be found 70 miles west of famous Key West. The park actually spans a total of 100 square miles.
It is mainly open water and seven separate islands. Ah, but when you take the virtual tour, you will not have to worry about having enough money to rent a boat or seaplane to see the place. Here you will swim through the world’s third-largest coral reef and explore the historic Civil War-era Fort Jefferson. Lastly, you will also be able to participate in an exciting exploratory dive into an old shipwreck from back in 1907. See all of these tours and more on Google Arts & Culture.