Skip to main content

The Manual may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

Effortlessly Explore 31 U.S. National Parks from Home with Google Earth

google earth national parks tour yosemite national park
Yosemite National Park Google Earth

National Parks Week is a time to celebrate the natural wonders and the natural history of the United States. From April 20 to 28, 2019, the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation focus on the amazing places and stories found in the parks. But what if we’re stuck working? We can’t just drop everything and jet around the country to see 61 parks in a day or even a week.

The folks at Google can help with that. The tech giant took its insanely detailed 3D mapping tool, Google Earth, and created guided tours of 31 National Parks around the country. How? The program takes images from satellites and stitches them together for an incredibly detailed view of our favorite places.

The Google Earth National Parks Tour starts with a map of the whole country and the 31 National Parks listed. Click on one and be flown into the local area to see 2D and 3D details including individual trees, buildings, and even picnic tables. You can walk through the towering canyons and secret waterfalls of Zion National Park, Utah, or you can step back in time to see the old cannonball shot furnace in Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida.

Each tour steps through the most amazing spots in the park. Sometimes, clicking next flies you to the next location where you can explore on your own; other times, locations are high-quality, 360-degree sphere images that let you spin around and zoom in any direction.

Flying around Google Earth is an addictive experience. Make sure to check out Otter Cliff in Maine’s Acadia National Park and the ancient Pueblo dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado.

Of course, National Parks Week isn’t just about scrolling around on your computer. These are incredible places we can visit in person.

Each day in National Parks Week has a theme. We’re already halfway through the week, but here’s a complete overview:

  • April 20: National Junior Ranger Day
  • April 21: Military and Veterans Recognition Day
  • April 22: Earth Day
  • April 23: Transportation Tuesday
  • April 24: Wild Wednesday
  • April 25: Throwback Thursday
  • April 26: Friendship Friday
  • April 27: B.A.R.K. Ranger Day (pet-focused)
  • April 28: Park Rx Day

Grab your hiking gear, check out the Park Finder, and hit the dirt for your next epic adventure.

Editors' Recommendations

Ross Collicutt
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Ross is an outdoor adventure writer, amateur photographer, and computer programmer based on Vancouver Island, British…
Zion National Park: Our guide to exploring Utah’s incredible outdoors
Places to see in the Greater Zion region of Southwest Utah
Eagle Crag in Greater Zion

Utah is known for majestic, almost otherworldly scenery that includes such renowned sites as Delicate Arch, Bryce Canyon, and Goblin Valley. Much of the state offers picturesque vistas with mountains, canyons, and unique rock formations that are known worldwide. There are a lot of national parks in Utah, which means there are numerous places to hike, backpack, and play outside in the wilderness.
Tucked away in Southwestern Utah is the Greater Zion region, which holds a variety of wonders to explore for outdoorsmen of all levels. The area is also home of the Zion National Park, a wonderland of gorgeous vistas overlooking the Virgin River, which runs through a canyon of Utah’s distinctive red rock.

So what makes the Greater Zion area one of the best places to visit in Utah?

Read more
Where will the next U.S. national park be?
Did you know we're about to get another National Park? Here's a breakdown
Night Sky Over Idaho's Craters of the Moon

Most of us know that Yellowstone was the first National Park in the U.S. But do you know what the newest National Park is? Well, the 64th park in America is about to be named and there are several worthy candidates throughout the land. Here's what to know.

Presently, there are seven areas within the country vying to be named the next great National Park. The locations span the U.S. map from Idaho to Maine, and while they are all worthy in their own right -- thanks to unique landforms, incredible wildlife, singular environments, etc. -- just one will be selected.

Read more
Here’s everything you need to pack for a trip to Yellowstone National Park
From backpacks and boots to headlamps and hiking snacks, here are all the essentials you'll need.
best national parks rv camping yellowstone 2

Yellowstone National Park is one of the crown jewels of America’s National Parks system. It quite literally has it all: Majestic geysers, technicolor thermal hot springs, bison-filled forests and fields, craggy canyons, roaring waterfalls, and — you get the gist. Stretching nearly 3,500 square miles across northwest Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana, Yellowstone attracts millions of visitors and tourists looking to revel in the beauty of the country's most spectacular landscapes (just don't get too close to the wildlife).

Indeed, it's an absolute bucket-list-worthy destination for adventure-minded people who want to visit beautiful national parks this year. If the idea of its picturesque landscapes gets you excited, here’s a list of the essentials you'll want to pack to stay safe and comfortable, so you can enjoy everything the park has to offer.
What to pack for day trips in Yellowstone National Park
Whether you’re planning to visit Yellowstone in the spring, summer, fall, or winter, there’s a whole host of items you’ll need to pack to ensure your comfort and safety. Here's our expert packing list:

Read more