National Parks Week: How to Take a Virtual Reality Tour of U.S. National Parks

Americans across the country are being offered virtual experiences in their favorite National Parks as part of National Park Week.

According to the National Park Service (NPS), there are 419 parks in the National Park System (2019 figures). Out of these, 62 are officially national parks. In 2019, all the parks received over 327 million visits, with the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park attracting more than 10 million visits each.

However, with the novel coronavirus pandemic keeping people indoors, people are unable to visit their local parks. The National Park Foundation (NPF) has provided some ideas for households to use from the comfort of their own home.

From virtual tours and live webcams to educational activities for young park enthusiasts and games for all ages, there are countless ways to enjoy parks from home during National Park Week 2020 (April 18 - 26).

The Cedar Breaks National Monument. NPS

Become an Online Junior Ranger

Young aspiring rangers take heed—you can earn your junior ranger badges virtually. According to the NPF, the junior ranger program is available across the country to inspire young park visitors to explore, learn, and protect the national parks.

The National Park Service Junior Ranger program invites participants to join the National Park Service family by taking an oath to protect the land, resources, and history, continue to learn about our national parks as well as share their own stories with friends and family.

Some programs are not tied to a specific national park site. Children can read special themed booklets to help them explore new ways to engage with the parks. For example:

Tune Into Mindfulness With PARKTRACKS

This twelve-minute innovative audio experience that helps listeners escape into the sounds of a national park with recordings from the National Park Service's Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division. So whether you're ready to greet the day with the sounds of birds in the woods or listen to the rain as you go to sleep, they'll be something for everybody.

Take A Virtual Reality Tour

There's no need to leave your house to see the beauties of nature. Take a trip to a national park through digital tours and experiences. These can be accessed anytime and anywhere—from digitally diving under the sea to watching the cherry blossom trees bloom. Make sure to tag yourself on social media using #FindYourPark / #EncuentraTuParque.