North America’s most stunning natural landscapes are even closer than you think—especially on this virtual tour of the national parks we visit on our U.S. and Canada tours! Click through the Google Maps links to marvel at the Grand Tetons, Lake Louise, and more of the great outdoors. (Our tip? Hold your cursor down on each Google screen and drag it left and right for 360° views.)
Take in the view from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim in Arizona. The canyon is staggering any time, but it’s taken to a whole new level during sunset. As a matter of fact, the high elevation and lack of light pollution make it one of the best places to stargaze—on clear, moonless nights, the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye! Not a night owl but still want a unique view? Adding our Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride excursion is the way to go. “Seeing the massive canyon from a bird’s-eye view proved to be even more awe-inspiring,” says staffer Katie.
Visit Ancestral Pueblo cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. These historic stone-carved homes in Colorado are a remnant of an ancient Native American culture that goes back over 700 hundred years here. “Beautiful panoramic views paired with pueblo Native American history made the visit to Mesa Verde one of the most memorable,” says traveler Bobby.
Marvel at the geological history of Zion National Park in Utah. They say good things take time, and that’s definitely true of Zion’s canyon, which was carved out by the Virgin River over the course of 250 million years! If that geological marvel doesn’t wow you, the open-air tram ride you’ll take past the park’s yellow- and orange-hued rocks most certainly will.
Stand on the shores of stunning lakes in Banff National Park in Canada. Ever wondered why Lake Louise looks so blue? It all comes down to the glacial flour, which are fine particles of rock produced by glacial erosion. If you think that’s pretty, just wait until you see Moraine Lake. “We were all expecting the beauty of Lake Louise, but none of us were prepared for the stop along the way: Moraine Lake,” says traveler Brandon. “Entirely surrounded by 10 peaks, Moraine Lake’s brilliant turquoise color reflect the mountains, displaying a view I would have thought was edited on a computer had I not seen it myself.”
See pristine wilderness in Waterton Lakes National Park, a spot so downright remarkable that it’s distinguished as both a World Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage site. While Waterton isn’t Canada’s largest national park, it certainly packs a punch, nature-wise. Plus, it’s home to the 1920s-era Prince of Wales Hotel, which is as charming as it gets and offers a front-row-seat to the lake.
Travel through Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the-Sun Road. The name of the 50-mile-long roadway in Montana sort of says it all—it’s really pretty, and winds by everything from glacial lakes and mountains to cedar forests. Glacier also shares a border (and UNESCO status) with another lovely spot to the north: Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. Together, the two locales make up the UNESCO-listed International Peace Park.
Step into the Old West in Monument Valley Tribal Park, an unforgettable spot in Navajo Nation. The landscape may be what comes to mind when you imagine the American West thanks to the fact that it was the backdrop of countless Hollywood Westerns—ever seen John Ford’s Stagecoach? While seeing it on film or on a national park virtual tour is special, there’s nothing like traveling through Native American history on our Monument Valley Jeep Ride excursion. “The Navajo guides on the jeep tour through Monument Valley were excellent and shared their knowledge and love of the area with us,” says traveler Elizabeth.
Admire the sights in Yellowstone National Park, which spans Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. This national park’s got it all...wildlife in spades, hot springs, winding rivers, mountains, geysers (we’re looking at you, Old Faithful!). “What impressed me most about America’s first national park was just how expansive it is,” says staffer Laura. “The park’s wide open spaces create a feeling of boundlessness that I haven’t experienced anywhere else.”
Look for animals in Rocky Mountain National Park. That’s right—everything from bighorn sheep and moose to birds and bears call this Colorado park home thanks to its varied landscape. There’s even a herd of up to 800 elk that settle in for winters here. Taking in mountain views along the Trail Ridge Road while seeing stunning wildlife? Talk about the perfect photo op.
Float through Grand Teton National Park on the Snake River. “The Snake River float ride in the Tetons was a most added surprise and will leave lasting memories,” says traveler Cathy. Take her word for it, our Snake River Float excursion is one of the best ways to see the mountains—second only to actually climbing them, of course! But since this is a virtual tour and we can bring you both vistas, check out the mountaintop scenery of the Tetons. Thanks, Google Maps.
Snap photos of hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park. Maybe you don’t have “see hoodoos in Utah” on your bucket list, but you should! Also called a fairy chimney or tent rocks, a hoodoo is a thin spire of rock, and Bryce Canyon is full of 'em—and they make for some spectacular landscapes.
Stand in awe of Alaska’s Denali National Park, another natural refuge where the wildlife reigns supreme. “We saw moose, black bears, grizzly bears, caribou, dall sheep, bald eagles, humpback whales, orcas, sea otters, and harbor seals,” says staffer Amanda. Of course, the backdrop makes seeing animals even more special, and Amanda was wowed by that, too. “When you first see Denali, it truly takes your breath away. There were tears in one person’s eyes and people were beside themselves.”
Take in the beauty of Arches National Park in Utah. With over 2,000 stone arches (the most natural stone arches in the world), this park is a quite a sight. To give you a better idea, the largest arch in the park, Landscape Arch, has an opening over over 300 feet—that’s the length of three football fields!
Say “aloha” in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Imagine paradise right here in the U.S., and this park should come to mind. “We visited a rain forest, a volcano national park, lava flows that still were emitting steam, and on to the black sandy beach where we saw big turtles sunning themselves,” says traveler Eva. Spectacular, right?