Virtual Nature Experiences

Photo by Sanni Sahil on Unsplash

While we are spending more time indoors for everyone’s health and safety I put together a post on some virtual nature experiences we can all still enjoy.

Virtual nature tours can be a way to take in some nature while you are at home. While not quite the same as visiting in person, virtual nature experiences can have benefits for mental health and well-being.

Recent park closures announced by Parks Canada closing all national parks and by the National Park Service in the United States have temporarily stopped visits to these park systems.

However, both services have created virtual tours so that we can continue to enjoy these beautiful locations from home. This provides a great opportunity to connect with nature while staying at home. Some people who are eagerly waiting to get back out into nature once it safe for us to do so.

For people who may have difficulty with travelling due to health or mobility problems these options may provide opportunities to connect with nature year round. Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Parks Canada

Parks Canada has a Google Street view library of outdoor and indoor locations from across Canada to provide some glimpses of their locations.

A listing of featured locations when you first enter the site. Searching by location using the menus provides a complete listing of all the locations with Google Street view.

Lake Louise, Google Street View, Parks Canada
Lake Louise (Google Street View – Parks Canada)

This is a great way to explore some Parks Canada locations you haven’t visited yet and get you thinking about some future outdoor activities once its safe for us to travel again.

National Park Service

Several locations in the National Park Service have virtual tours available.

Google Arts and Culture created five National Park Service virtual tours. The locations include Kenai Fjords, Hawaii Volcano, Carlsbad Caverns, Bryce Canyon and Dry Tortuga Parks.

Each tour has a narration introduction followed by three dimensional picture, links to descriptions of the locations and small videos providing details about the location.

Carlsbad Cavern National Park Service Virtual Tour

Yellowstone National Park has a number of virtual tour experiences available on their website. You can select a location within Yellowstone Park – such as Fountain Paint Pot – and a map with location pins containing descriptions will appear for each location. Some pins also contain photos associated with the location.

Fountain Paint Pot Virtual Tour, Yellowstone National Park

Google Street View

Google Street View can be a great resource for exploring nature around the globe. On a computer, click on the yellow person in the bottom right hand corner of Google Maps which will take you into street view mode. On your phone I recommend downloading the Google Street View app.

Finding Your Way Around Google Street View

Once you have selected Street View mode you can take a virtual walk down any area that shows a blue line.

Often parks will have photo spheres included to give you a 360 degree view of a location in a park. Click on the blue dot and a viewer will open up and you will be able to move your view around to look at your park. Here is a view of St. Patrick’s Island park that someone posted on Google Street View.

If you would like more information on how to use Google Street view here Business Insider has provided a brief article on this.

Google Street View, St. Patrick’s Island Park, Calgary Alberta (provided by Alex Saveli)

YouTube

YouTube can be a great resource for finding virtual tours. There are thousands videos if you search for virtual walks, tours or parks.

Many videos are formatted to work well with treadmills or indoor exercise equipment to provide a nature experience while you work out inside.

I hope this helps to get people started on some virtual nature experiences. An in-depth look on the nature benefits associated with virtual nature will be posted on Nature Brain in the near future so if you are interested in this topic please check back in or sign up for updates.

If you have any comments or suggestions for other virtual nature experiences please leave a comment or email at info@naturebrain.com.

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