Sunday, July 15, 2012


Use Google Street View to help plan your road trips and outdoor activities.

Scout out the driving part of your journey on your computer.

"People around the world can now appreciate the beauty and timelessness of the wilderness through Street View. We've recently added 360-degree panoramic imagery for five of California’s national parks ... Redwood National Park ... Yosemite National Park ... Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks ... Death Valley National Park ... Joshua Tree National Park." (Official Google Blog 12july2012 )

View Larger Map

Northside Drive, Yosemite Valley, California, United States. See Half Dome in the distance or zoom in for a closer view.

Click on the Full Screen tool to get an eye-popping Street View that uses your entire screen.

Google Street View doesn't actually show us the wilderness, just the roads to the trailheads or river access points where the Google Street View camera car is allowed to drive. Hikers & bikers will find this useful to plan their drives to the trailheads and to recognize when they have arrived at the right places. Kayakers, canoers, tubers and rafters will find this useful to find some of the river access points where their boating trips begin or end. Keep in mind that the Street View images may be a few years old, so don't expect this to show any place perfectly up to the minute.

Google Street View was already available for many locations other than those listed above. First locate a place of interest by typing the place name in the search box at Google Maps (e.g. town or city, state or national park, national forest, etc.). Or find the geographic coordinates of the desired location using Acme Mapper, then copy-paste the coordinates (e.g. N 37.78808 W 119.53125 = coordinates for Yosemite National Park) into the search box at Google Maps.

In Google Maps click and drag the orange cartoon person from the navigation tool onto the map. Roads where Street View is available will display as blue lines. Drag and drop the cartoon person onto the blue line at the desired road location. Click and drag in Street View to change locations and the orientation of the view. The 360 degree panoramic view is definitely not as good as being there in person, but it is one of the coolest things you can see on a computer screen. When viewing the larger map you can click on the Zoom Out tool to go from Street View to Google Maps.

In California Google Street View provides excellent coverage of main roads and big city streets, but coverage tapers off in rural areas. Nevertheless, Google Street View is a great trip planning resource that gives a vivid panoramic view of the route to many places of interest and at least gets you close to many other destinations.

Clicking on the Link Tool will generate a link for whatever Google Map or Street View is on your screen at the time. This link can be sent to others via email to show them a picture of a meeting point or a map to a landmark of interest. They can use the Get Directions button to generate driving directions to get to that location from any other starting point.

When viewing the larger map you will see at the top of the left panel:
Get Directions - My Places - Print Tool - Link Tool

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