• Steven Heller

Earth Day: Get Out Without Going Out, Thanks to National Parks

Today is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day—and this happens to also be National Park Week. So for today’s Brand of the Day, we’re taking a look at five ways the National Park Service is utilizing tech and design to help us get out without going out. (And for a shot of vintage design ephemera, check out the WPA National Parks posters here.)

Take a Park 360 Tour

Grab your phone and earbuds, and take an immersive 360-degree virtual expedition to Oregon’s Crater Lake National Park and California’s Channel Islands National Park. Pan the camera around as you navigate waterfalls, peaks and even dive beneath the surface of the Channel Islands’ kelp forest.

Listen to the Parks

It’s the job of the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division to capture the audible glory of the system (really!)—and with Parktracks, you can hear a compilation of more than 150 sounds from the field, from elk calls to birdsong and even storms rolling across the plains. Think of it as nature’s restorative ASMR.

See the Parks Through Someone Else’s Lens

As anyone who has ever visited a National Park knows, they offer extraordinary glimpses at the natural world—and every year the NPS Share the Experience contest offers a stunning view at how photographers have captured it. Browse some of the best images—including historical collections—here.

Discover a New Park Through a Virtual Visit

Sure, you’ve no doubt seen photos of the Grand Canyon and the Smoky Mountains, and you might have even visited—but there are endless amazing sites beyond the big hotspots and usual suspects. From the time capsule that is New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park to the expanse of Crater Lake, there is discoverability built into each one. Take some curated virtual tours here.

Go Live

See the parks in real time and plan future adventures by browsing the National Park Service’s array of webcams across the country. Some of our favorites: Feeling the Zen of Yosemite Falls. Experiencing the push and pull of the tide at the Channel Islands live ocean webcam. Checking the goings-on around the National Mall (especially in Cherry Blossom season). Watching climbers progress bit by bit up El Capitan. Seeing Old Faithful erupt (and happening upon a hunting wolf pack in the process). You never know what you might see—after all, we may be quarantined, but for the animals within the parks, it’s business as usual.

#EarthDay #NationalParks