National Park Week: Take a Virtual Tour
Sunrise over the terrain at North Dakota's Theodore Roosevelt National Park on June 4, 2014. National Park Service
You can be forgiven for not realizing that we’re in the midst of National Park Week. After all, spring is in the air but you’re probably missing the great outdoors.
On Earth Day, President Trump, who seems eager to see social distancing ended, announced that some of the national parks would start to reopen, though he did not offer any details.
“We will begin to open our national parks and public lands for the American people to enjoy,” Trump announced at an Earth Day event at the White House, but gave no other information. Pressed for details, White House representatives deferred answers to the Department of the Interior, which oversees the parks, as Reuters reported.
Fortunately, the internet is here to help you take a virtual tour of some of your favorite national parks. The National Park Service Find Your Virtual Park website offers an array of options, including videos, webcams, games and kid-friendly activities.
The National Park Foundation also offers virtual tours of historic sites and park attractions. They posted a Parks at Home page to encourage people to “travel” to their favorite park through real-time webcams, photo galleries, online tours and recorded soundscapes. It also has a page dedicated to family-friendly home activities and immersive audio to “bring the wonder of our national parks into your home.”
In fact, the National Park Foundation has a trove of resources dedicated to National Park Week.
Will Shafroth, president of the National Park Foundation, is using his time “to revisit places I have been in the past and explore new places to go,” as the Los Angeles Times reported. He has been listening to the sounds of Rocky Mountain National Park.
“Most fascinating are the bird calls … red-wing blackbirds, crows, magpies,” he said. Rocky Mountain National Park’s sound library also features sounds of coyote and elk.
Camping sites are closed, so if you miss the sounds of the park you’d hear at night, there is ParkTracks. “This twelve-minute innovative audio experience … helps listeners escape into the sounds of a national park with recordings from the National Park Service’s Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. So whether you’re ready to greet the day with the sounds of birds in the woods or listen to the rain as you go to sleep, they’ll be something for everybody,” says Newsweek.
One of Architectural Digest’s recommendations is a virtual tour of Yosemite in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains, one of the most internationally recognized parks. The park features a High Sierra webcam that shows views from Glacier Point of the park’s famous Half Dome. Just a click away are real-time webcams of El Capitan and Badger Pass Ski Area, as the Los Angeles Times reported.
In Yellowstone National Park, which spans the border of Wyoming and Montana, you can watch its iconic Old Faithful geyser erupt.
Google Earth also offers virtual tours of 31 national parks, where you can view breathtaking vistas from Acadia in Maine to the red rock canyons of Zion in Utah.
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