Bored of lockdown strolls at your local park? Why not take it up a notch by hiking to Everest, scaling El Capitan, or walking the sand dunes of Namibia, the glaciers Patagonia and the trails of the Grand Canyon? With dozens of the world’s best national parks offering interactive tours online, you can now go exploring in your pyjamas! Here are our top 17 national parks you can discover with a virtual tour.
1. Los Glaciares National Park, Argentinian Patagonia
If you’re looking for incredible wilderness, it’s got to be Patagonia. The region stretches over Chile and Argentina and is filled with natural wonders, like the Perito Moreno Glacier of Los Glaciares National Park in Argentina. Covering 250 km2, it’s big – and getting bigger!
Check out these interactive images on 360cities to get an insight into the sheer scale and dazzling blue of the glacier. Then watch this immersive video of the landscapes beyond the glacier with beautiful rivers, rainbows and a pack of guanacos.
2. Grand Canyon National Park, USA
At 445,000 kilometres in length, 1,857 metres deep, and with rocks dating back around two billion years ago, it’s easy to see how the Grand Canyon got its name. You can hike along the Bright Angel Trail along the Colorado River to the South Rim all from your home with Google Street View Trek.
Explore even more with Google Earth view where you can see iconic sights like Angels Window or Wontons Throne. If you’re after a bird’s eye view, head to AirPano, a VR project offering 360-degree images of the beautiful Red Rocks.
3. Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal
Few people can say they’ve scaled Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, but now you virtually can when you visit Sagarmatha National Park, all from the comfort of your lounge. Go e-exploring at an altitude of 5,380 metres, with interactive 360-degree views of Everest’s south base camp in Nepal.
You can see the towering 8,848-metre summit and more of the Himalayas with this interactive map and if you click on the human-shaped icon, you can explore more of the mountain range below. Click on the blue dots for close-up views of mountain villages, colourful prayer flags, and the stunning Imja River. You can also get a bird’s eye view of the base camp and river with the 360-degree images at AirPano.
4. Abisko National Park, Sweden
Seeing the aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, is on almost everyone’s travel bucket list. These mystical lights can only be seen in countries at high northern latitudes, like Canada, Iceland, Russia and Scandinavia. But you don’t have to travel too far to catch them.
Head to the Norwegian Lights over Lapland project for a five-minute journey through a 360-degree video. You’ll start in Abisko National Park in Sweden and travel through Arctic birch forest and Lake Torneträsk on a reindeer sleigh, before stopping at a wooden Sami hut near Mount Nuolja. You’ll then watch an amazing time-lapse video of the dancing green streaks and arcs of the Northern Lights.
5. Kenai Fjords National Park, USA
Take a virtual tour through the beautiful fjords, icebergs and glaciers of Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. It’s got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth and luckily for us, they’ve taken their national park online. Dive through an icy crevasse, kayak past glittering icebergs and marvel at the sweeping views of the fjords. You can even see how a glacier melts and learn about the effects of climate change on this region.
For more Alaskan viewing, check out the Nationals Parks service virtual tour of Denali National Park or visit Denali through Google Earth. The park covers six million acres of wilderness, including the spectacular Savage River and Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America.
6. Namib-Naukluft National Park, Namibia
Namib-Naukluft National Park in Namibia is home to the famous red sand dunes of the Namib. It’s the oldest desert in the world, dating back 80 million years ago. It’s also one of the most remote places on earth, but you’ll have it all in the palm of your hands with these interactive 360-degree images by AirPano.
You’ll see some of the largest dunes in the iconic Sossusvlei area, including Dune 7 at 338 metres, Big Daddy at 325 metres and Big Mamma at 198 metres. Don’t forget to check out the spectacular Deadvlei and a starlit sky showing the Milky Way. Simply stunning!
7. Yosemite National Park, USA
Yosemite is one of the most famous and most beautiful national parks in the United States. It’s home to the Sierra Nevada mountains, gorgeous meadows, rushing rivers, magical forests, and the iconic El Capitan, a 900-metre tall vertical cliff face.
You can scale El Capitan with US climber Lynn Hill, the first person to free climb the route in 1993. Learn about the skills and techniques as you make your way to the top… just don’t look down! Once you’ve finished your climb, you can explore more of Yosemite with these 360-degree images. Don’t forget to check out Bridalveil Fall, Ahwahnee Meadow and Yosemite Falls!
8. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia
Uluru is the largest rock monolith in the world and you can take an interactive tour with 360-degree visuals and audio clips around this incredible place. You’ll hear the desert birdsong, discover important sites and listen to the traditional owners sharing stories and cultural knowledge.
If you want to see more beautiful Australian terrain, check out these 360-degree views of Kakadu National Park. Cruise along Twin Falls gorge, take a virtual dip at Gunlom and marvel at the rock art of Ubirr.
9. Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland
The National Trust of the UK protects thousands of hectares of nature reserves and historic landscapes. You can explore some of the most iconic sights like the stunning Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland. Take this virtual tour to see more than 40,000 geometric, interlocking basalt columns.
Legend says they were made by giants as a stairway to Scotland, while scientists believe they were formed by lava flowing into the sea 60 million years ago. However they originated, you’ll marvel at views from Aird Snout Headland and the bay of Port Noffer. You can even get a bird’s eye view of the Carrick A Rede trail with these incredible images from AirPano.
RELATED CONTENT: How it was formed, and other fascinating Giant’s Causeway facts
10. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
One of China’s most famous national parks can now be visited online. You’ll likely recognise this one from James Cameron’s Avatar film as the mystical quartz-sandstone pillars were used as inspiration for the floating peaks of the Hallelujah Mountains.
We’re sure you’ll be equally inspired as you fly around the soaring columns on this interactive video tour and marvel at these beautiful 360-degree images from the sky. You can also explore the park’s ancient temple from 870AD and the Bailong glass elevator, the world’s longest and highest glass bridge, through these 360-degree images.
11. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, USA
Ever wanted to see an active volcano? Now you can, since the Hawai’i’ Volcanoes National Park is now online with this virtual tour. Fly over an active volcano, marvel at the volcanic coastal cliffs, and see the effects of a 1959 volcanic eruption. You can even take a look at the Nāhuku Lava Tube, a cave which drains lava during a volcanic eruption.
12. Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, Vietnam
Online national parks tours don’t get much better than this. You can virtually wander through Hang Sơn Đoòng, the world’s largest cave located in Vietnam’s Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park. It was first explored by scientists in 2009 after it was discovered by a local man in 1991.
National Geographic created the Sơn Đoòng 360 project to preserve the cave before it potentially becomes overrun with tourism development. You can see it in all its glory with this trek, complete with 360-degree images and atmospheric sound effects. Pass the 70-metre tall Hand of Dog stalagmite and stroll through huge sinkhole jungles. Don’t forget to zoom in on the cave to spot hidden plants and animals.
13. Yellowstone National Park, USA
Lace up your virtual walking boots and get your US national park fix online with this virtual tour of Yellowstone. Not only does the park have the title of the first national park in the world (established on 1 March 1872), but it’s also home to some of the world’s greatest natural wonders. If you’re lucky, you’ll even spot the iconic eruption of the Old Faithful geyser.
14. Stonehenge Landscape, England
The Stonehenge World Heritage Site has mystified people for decades and is a protected archaeological site under the National Trust. You can scratch your head in amazement and learn more about the secrets of Stonehenge with this interactive tour. There’s also Google Street Views, where you’ll get a 360-degree look inside the famous stone circle.
15. Dry Tortugas National Park, USA
You can travel underwater in a national park online! This virtual tour of Dry Tortugas National Park takes you off the coast of Florida and you’ll get to explore protected beaches and 19th-century Fort Jefferson.
Watch for sea turtles at Loggerhead Key and explore the wreck of Windjammer near Loggerhead Reef. You can even virtually swim through the third-largest coral reef in the world. Who says you can’t get tropical when on lockdown?
16. Kilimanjaro National Park, Tanzania
Did you know you can conquer the highest peak in Africa without even breaking a sweat? Head to Google Street View to get all the spectacular views from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.
While you’re there, you can scale other massive mountains, like Aconcagua, the highest peak in the Americas. There’s also Mount Elbrus, the highest peak in Europe. This virtual tour of Elbrus in Russia’s Prielbrusye National Park will have you feeling like you’re actually on top of this snowy mountain!
17. Crater Lake National Park, USA
You’ll find the deepest lake in the US at Crater Lake National Park and you can do it all online. This video tour was produced by the National Park Foundation and National Park Service. It features 360-degree views over the massive Crater Lake, the sunrise over Garfield Peak and Phantom Ship, an ancient rock formation.
Have you visited any national parks online? Let us know in the comments below!