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Google Maps in the National Parks

Google Maps in the National Parks

Posted in: Outdoor adventures on April 7, 2023.

Upgrading Google Maps

You know Google Maps. It’s basically the default tool used for planning trips anywhere in the world. We link to it all the time in our blog to help you see what and where we’re talking about. And this spring, Google Maps is getting a big upgrade to its maps of the national parks. Which will make it even more useful!

Google worked with the National Park Service directly, getting input from real park rangers and park directors, to help make its new parks update the best for us visitors. So what new features are we getting? Let’s break it down:

A person examines Google Maps on a phone

Photo by Tamas Tuzes Katai via unsplash.com

See the Parks’ Big Attractions at a Glance

When you search for a national park, the key attractions will appear as a photo highlight reel at the bottom of the app. So for example, if you search for Arches National Park, you’ll see Delicate Arch and the Delicate Arch Trail show up right at the bottom. Tap on the photos for more details, including user-submitted reviews and videos. Then you can add it to your itinerary if it appeals to you.

Better Trail Maps and Guides

Finding trails within your park has been made more convenient. They are now more visible and easier to search for and find on the platform. And when you select a trail, the whole route will appear highlighted, so you can get a clearer idea of what the route entails. Plus, they’re adding directions to the trailhead, which is handy, because sometimes those suckers can be hard to find. In short, better visibility of the routes and simpler access to trails.

A group of people hike in Zion National Park

Photo by Alex Holt via unsplash.com

The Best One – Offline Use

Not all the parks have cell towers nearby (that’s one of the appeals of the national parks, in our opinion.) So heretofore, you couldn’t really count on Google Maps to be 100% accurate when you were out on the trail. But now, you can download maps for offline use. And they say the little blue dot that denotes where you are will dynamically move as you do, even without Wi-Fi or cellular coverage. Pretty cool.

Coming This Month

These updates are already available in some of the most popular parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite, and will be rolled out to all 424 National Park Service sites in April, with plans to expand to all the national parks around the world in the coming months.

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