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You can now virtually explore the USA's most breathtaking National Parks - here’s how

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 03/04/2020 Laura Hampson
a canyon with Bryce Canyon National Park in the background © Provided by Evening Standard

If there’s one thing that this sudden coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it’s how much we took the ease of travel (and the availability of toilet paper ) for granted.

Since commercial flights became more widely used in the 1950s, travelling the world has become a way of life. With the UK embedded in one of the world’s most culturally diverse continents, city breaks have become a cheap and easy weekend activity.

Yet, with the UK joining many other countries on lockdown, going grocery shopping is the nation’s most common weekend activity at the moment and the travel industry has all but come to a halt.

Luckily, as humans, we easily adapt and a new era of travel is upon us: virtual travel.

a person standing in front of a building: image © Provided by Evening Standard image

Virtual travel is where the internet allows us to ‘visit’ places without leaving our sofa. A number of free webcams, tours and sites have started to pop up allowing armchair travellers to get their dose of travel just by using their phones or laptops.

One of the apps helping fuel our ever-increasing wanderlust, is Google Arts & Culture, which is currently hosting interactive documentaries with five US National Parks.

Through the app or online, avid travellers can immerse themselves through 360-degree video tours of Alaska’s Kenai Fjords, Hawaii’s Volcanoes, New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns, Utah’s Bryce Canyon and Florida’s Dry Tortugas.

20 world landmarks to explore without leaving home (Espresso)

a lake with a mountain in the background: Kenai Fjords, Alaska (Unsplash) © Provided by Evening Standard Kenai Fjords, Alaska (Unsplash)

In each of the parks, a local ranger guides viewers through beautiful wilderness areas and an archive or artefacts from several of the National Park Service’s museums are also available to experience.

For example, when you choose the Bryce Canyon option, you’re met with sweeping views across the canyon and led into it by a ranger. There’s the option to see the canyon by night, as it’s home to one of the darkest skies in North America, and you can explore constellations as well as see the Milky Way. It also allows you to explore the famed changing hoodoos in the park - the giant red stone rock formations it houses.


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