It's National Park Week, but for anyone who is stuck indoors and can't hit the road, Google is making it easy to virtually visit many of America's treasures.
Google Street View and Google Cultural Institute have teamed up to showcase U.S. national parks and historic sites on one easy-to-navigate web page. Users can overlook the Merced River in Yosemite National Park in California, view volcanic cinder cones at Idaho's Craters of the Moon National Monument and take a virtual hike in the Everglades in Florida, among other virtual adventures.
The featured parks include at least one from every state, and aren't limited to surface streets. Views of Cedar Sink at Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky take Street View underground. And at Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Utah, Street View becomes "Boat View," featuring panoramas of Lake Powell and the Colorado River. [All Yours: 10 Least Visited National Parks]
Not feeling outdoorsy? Check out the Andrew Johnson National Historic Site in Greenville, Tennessee, home of the 17th U.S. president. You can even read the informational signs outside the visitor center. Or, take a stroll around the Statue of Liberty in New York City, and get an idea of what it's like to peer up at this landmark's iconic green visage.
Meanwhile, the Cultural Institute spotlights a collection of objects collected from national parks and historic sites, such as a portrait of naturalist John Muir by his sister, Mary Muir Hand; the desk upon which Theodore Roosevelt is thought to have written his first presidential proclamation; and a breathtaking Sioux or Cheyenne shirt embroidered with porcupine quills, deer bone and eagle feathers.
Other objects in the gallery include a rusty whiskey still from Congaree National Park in South Carolina, a copper ingot from Keweenaw National Historical Park in Michigan, and a fragment of a letter from Ulysses S. Grant to his wife beginning, "Dearest Julia, I have just –".
National Park Week is an annual celebration of the National Park System. Between April 16 and April 24, all national parks offer free admission, and individual parks host specialized programs. This year, the Park Service is embracing technology with Instameets, prearranged gatherings where smartphones and social media postings are encouraged.