How to Virtually Visit Your Favorite U.S. National Parks
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A really weird thing happened recently – most of the U.S. national parks closed.
To have national parks closed during spring definitely sucks but there are ways to still be able to visit our favorite spots virtually.
As much as we’d rather go there, sometimes the virtual version will have to do. And no, this isn’t an intro to some dystopian future where we never get to visit national parks in reality again.
You will get to see these spots in person again. Until then, the gorgeous virtual portrayal will have to do.
4 Ways to Virtually Enjoy Your Favorite National Parks
1. Check The National Park Foundation
You can check out nationalparks.org and their list of national parks that are available for virtual visitation online. They include parks and monuments that are available via virtual tours and live webcams.
On their site you can find the following national parks to visit virtually:
- Virgin Islands National Park
- Crater Lake National Park
- Paterson Great Falls National Historic Park
- Channel Islands National Park
- Olympic National Park
- And many more
2. Follow The #FindYourVirtualPark Hashtag on Twitter
I found the #FindYourVirtualPark hashtag by following the Santa Monica Mountains’ Twitter account when they posted about their virtual bilingual wildflower hike that they host on Saturdays.
Hola! We are hosting our very first virtual & bilingual wildflower hike on Facebook Live this Saturday at 10am. As we hike, we will talk about why flowers are important to people, wildlife, and how you can enjoy them responsibility. Te veremos pronto! #FindYourVirtualPark pic.twitter.com/juhSz3lDfq— Santa Monica Mtns (@SantaMonicaMtns) April 30, 2020
When I checked out the hashtag, that is where I found most of the suggestions for this article actually. I suggest you go check out that hashtag on Twitter (and it is also an active hashtag on Instagram).
3. Follow Your Favorite Parks on Social Media
Don’t forget about searching for your favorite parks on social media and giving them a follow. This way, you will stay up to date on any virtual events they might have going on, if they have a live web cam or virtual tours, see new pictures and videos they post of the park while social distancing continues, and see announcements for when they plan to reopen.
Most national parks have social media accounts on Twitter and Instagram at least.
If you can afford to do so, give them donations if they ask for it. They aren’t making money right now from visitors (like places like the Grand Canyon depend on), and may need your help. Especially since there isn’t much in the U.S. national park service budget to begin with.
4. Instagram Can Be a Virtual Park in Itself
There are loads of Instagram accounts solely dedicated to the beauty of U.S. national parks, state parks, hiking and more. You could potentially take an entire virtual trip through Instagram if you use the right hashtags (and try not to get too much wanderlust).
I recommend the following hashtags on Instagram for virtual hiking and exploring:
National Park Etiquette When You Do Get The Chance to Visit These Beauts Again
This is why I recommend to follow your favorite parks on social media to stay up to date on their new announcements for reopening when that time comes. They will have specific guidelines you will have to follow along with normal park ettiquette that you should always follow.
In addition to following their specific guidelines, normal national park etiquette is as follows:
- “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints”: As in, don’t take anything from the land and don’t litter or leave any of your “human” stuff behind.
- Stay on marked trails.
- Follow all posted signs.
- Don’t litter!!!
Protect & Support Our Public Lands
Protecting our public lands as a nation is a group effort. We are only as strong as our weakest link.
Please, leave the land you visit the same way you found it. Respect wildlife and keep safe viewing distances. Keep your eyes, ears, and noses open at all times to remain aware of your surroundings (while keeping your hands to yourself).
Use common sense and please do not litter.
And lastly, always follow the golden rule which is to treat other visitors, rangers, park staff, wildlife, plants, and the scenery with respect.
What virtual park will you visit online today? Let us know in the comments below!
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Dani is an entrepreneur and one of the creators of hikingandroadtrips.com. She is obsessed with everything outdoors, especially hiking, traveling and will take any opportunity to #getoutside for adventure or to just vibe with the earth.