Nature Valley Trail View Adds Sequoia National Park To Virtual Hikes

Nature Valley Trail View now offers virtual hikes of Sequoia National ParkIn March of last year, Nature Valley launched their Trail View website, giving deskbound outdoor enthusiasts the opportunity to take a virtual hike through three of the most popular national parks in the U.S. The website employed technology similar to Google’s Street View to give us the opportunity to explore more than 300 miles of trails in the Grand Canyon, Great Smokey Mountains and Yellowstone. Now, just in time to celebrate National Park Week, the site is adding yet another spectacular park to the mix.

Nature Valley has announced that starting today an additional 50+ miles of trail located inside Sequoia National Park will be available to virtual explorers. Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Sequoia is of course best known for the trees from which it derives its name. The Giant Sequoias are known to grow to heights in excess of 200 feet, putting them amongst the largest living organisms on our planet. With the addition of the park to the Nature Valley Trail View site, you can now take a stroll amongst those magnificent trees directly from your favorite web browser.

Adding another park to the website isn’t the only upgrade to Trail View today. The site is also becoming more mobile friendly in an effort to accommodate smartphones and tablets as well. That will include the ability to download .pdf files with information about the parks and specific trails too. This could become a handy resource for travelers headed out to one of these destinations who might need a little help finding your way around.Nature Valley’s commitment to the national parks doesn’t end there, however. Over the past few years, the company has been a tireless advocate for the parks. Through its annual Preserve the Parks campaign they’ve managed to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars to the National Parks Conservation Association. With another $500,000 donation this year, the four-year total will exceed $1.8 million. This is in addition to some fantastic park restoration projects that conducted with volunteers who are eager to help protect their favorite parks as well.

As a fan of the national parks, I truly appreciate the efforts that Nature Valley has put forth to help preserve some of our most amazing landscapes. Their work is helping to ensure future generations will have the opportunity to enjoy these places as well. And with their Trail View website, they allow me to take a virtual escape now and again, which certainly comes in handy when I’ve spending far too much time indoors.

[Photo Credit: Dcrjsr via WikiMedia]

Google Maps Now Lets You Explore The Grand Canyon

Google Maps brings Street View to the Grand CanyonHave you always dreamed of hiking the Grand Canyon but just can’t get past all of the walking that would entail? Then you’ll be pleased to learn that the latest update to Google Maps brings Street View technology to the national park, allowing us to take a virtual tour of its trails without ever leaving home.

Back in October we told you how Google planned to capture images from the trail by using their new high-tech Trekker camera system. The device is worn like a backpack and automatically snaps photos while some lucky Google employee wanders the landscape. Yesterday, the company announced that it has now incorporated the images and data that were collected on that October excursion, bringing more than 75 miles of Grand Canyon trails directly to your browser.

Amongst the more well known routes that are now included on Google Maps are both Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail, both of which provide superb views in their real and virtual states. You can even explore nearby Meteor Crater or wander along the banks of the Colorado River, the force responsible for carving the Canyon over many millions of years.

Now we at Gadling would never advocate using Street View as a substitute for actually visiting any destination, let alone one as amazing as the Grand Canyon. But we do think that this makes an excellent tool for someone who wants to explore the site before they go so they have an idea of what to expect when they get there. It also serves as a great reminder of just how amazing travel can be on those days when you are stuck at your desk for hours on end. The next time that happens, just open your browser, hop over to Google Maps and spend a little time hiking the Canyon. It’s not as good as the real thing, but it sure beats the work you’ll be avoiding.

[Photo Credit: Google]

Rafter Mysteriously Goes Missing In Grand Canyon

The Grand CanyonThe National Park Service has a mystery on their hands and it is proving to be a difficult one to solve.

Twenty-one-year-old Kaitlin Kenney was part of a month-long private rafting party in the Grand Canyon when she mysteriously went missing last week. Kenney was last seen on Friday, January 11, in a camp near Tapeats Creek along the northern bank of the Colorado River. What happened to her after that is still open for speculation, as no trace of the young woman has been found since.

Other members of the rafting group used a satellite phone to contact the Park Service over the weekend and the NPS scrambled search parties to go looking for Kenney. Searching from both the air and on the ground, teams have combed the area where she was last seen and so far have come up empty. The Park Service says that they spent two days checking every accessible trail, beach, drainage and backcountry area in the vicinity to no avail. The search is ongoing, although efforts have been scaled back.

What might have happened to the missing rafter is open to debate. Other members of her party say that she would never have tried to climb out of the canyon on her own and speculation is that she may have accidentally fallen into the water sometime in the night. At this time of year the Grand Canyon can be a cold place and the waters of the Colorado are frigid, making hypothermia a real danger. SAR teams have combed the river looking for Kenney, however, and still haven’t found any clues.

[Photo Credit: National Park Service]

The Grand Canyon Is Coming To Google Street View

Google Street View will soon add the Grand CanyonBy now we’ve all marveled at how Google Maps and its Street View option, allow us to easily explore the world around us. Not only is it possible to use the system to find a new restaurant down the street, but it also gives us the ability to visit places like the Amazon, Pompeii and the Great Barrier Reef without ever leaving home. Soon you’ll be able to add yet another natural wonder to that list, as the Internet search giant has announced that it will next turn its attention on the Grand Canyon.

Yesterday, Google announced that it was sending members of its mapping team, armed with its new Trekker camera system, into the canyon for the first time. They’ll explore the iconic and breathtaking landscape on foot, while the camera automatically captures high quality photos in 360-degree panoramas while they hike. Once the expedition is complete, the team will return home and upload their images, which will eventually be stitched together and displayed in Street View form online.

This week the maps team is concentrating on the stunning vistas of the South Rim as well as the popular Bright Angel Trail and South Kaibab Trail. If you happen to be in Grand Canyon National Park over the next few days and come across a group of hikers with oddly shaped backpacks, it’s probably just the Google gang going about their business. The rest of us will have to wait patiently for their photos to be added to the ever-growing Street View library.

On a side note, how cool would it be to get payed by Google to go backpacking for a few weeks? I’m sure this team is well outfitted for this adventure and it certainly beats spending long days in the office.

[Photo credit: Google]

The Grand Canyon Captured In Time-lapse

There is no doubt that the Grand Canyon is one of the most beautiful and dramatic landscapes on Earth, drawing in millions of visitors each year. But seldom has it been captured so spectacularly as it has in this time-lapse video. To create this short film, the photographers spent seven weeks in and around the canyon, shooting over 80,000 photos in the process. The results are hard to dispute. This is simply one of the best time-lapse videos I’ve ever seen.


Grand Canyon : Blink of Time” from GOTM Films on Vimeo.