A Virtual Hike in the Grand Canyon with Google Maps

By Devon Glenn 

Google has released a panoramic map view of the Grand Canyon, inlcuding 75 miles of hiking trails and the surrounding roads. Much like the real thing, the map view of the national park has breathtaking imagery of red rock cliffs and the Colorado River.

Following the white arrows on an interactive map, you can take a virtual hike along the Bright Angel Trail or pause at one of the park’s scenic overlooks for a view of the gaping canyon.

In a blog post, Google staffer Emily Wood described how Google captured the imagery on foot. “Our team strapped on the Android-operated 40-pound backpacks carrying the 15-lens camera system and wound along the rocky terrain on foot, enduring temperature swings and a few muscle cramps along the way,” she wrote. “Together, more than 9,500 panoramas of this masterpiece of nature are now available on Google Maps.”

The interactive, 360-degree interface is in some ways better than the real thing. It’s possible to, for instance, use the arrows to “walk” sideways across a bridge for a continuous look at the river below. But even Google has its limits. The arrows will stop you just short of jumping off the trails and getting a skydiver’s perspective. (We tried.)

Maybe someday they’ll have jet packs.