As the weather gets warmer and cabin fever sets in, there’s no better way to experience nature from home than with a virtual hike. Break out the pine-scented air freshener, hiking boots, and comfortable chair for a walk in the woods. Or go for a stroll around your local park—while both social distancing and paying attention to your surroundings—and watch videos featuring tree-filled valleys, rushing waterfalls, and massive mountains. No matter where you want to escape to, we have you covered with a guide to the best virtual nature tours.
Virtual Tour of Yellowstone National Park
Wander past kaleidoscopic geothermal features, get up close to bison and elk, and rush alongside the azure Yellowstone River. Typically overwhelmed by thousands of visitors, Yellowstone National Park often feels like a natural amusement park with endless throngs waiting to see Old Faithful and Mammoth Hot Springs. But with a virtual hike through Yellowstone, you’ll escape the crowds and quickly see all the top sights—and go further than most dare to venture.
Take this opportunity to slow down and watch the bison congregate and the elk splash in the cool waters of Yellowstone Lake. From your high vantage point, you can see waterfalls cascade and mountain goats standing on invisible ledges. If you’ve ever dreamed of exploring the wonders of Yellowstone, there’s no time like the present to put on the bug spray—you’ll need it once the snow melts—and set a virtual course for Wyoming.
Banff National Park Virtual Tour
Have you been daydreaming about a winter escape? Venture off the beaten path with a virtual tour of Banff National Park, a snow-covered wonderland of soaring mountains, shimmering alpine lakes, and pristine glaciers. Hop aboard the Banff gondola for unrivalled views of the Rocky Mountains as you take in panoramic vistas of icy trees and snow-white valleys. Before your Canadian wilderness adventure comes to a close, put on your snowshoes and head out on the Johnston Canyon Ice Walk for a spectacular exploration of this frozen paradise.
Death Valley Virtual Tour
Spring is around the time when nature turns up the heat in Death Valley National Park, so this is the perfect opportunity to virtually venture through the hottest and driest place in the United States. Travel along rubber-melting roads to discover vast expanses of lifeless desert. In the distance, observe mountains that seem close until you realize they are hidden behind the curve of the earth. You don’t even need to look out your window at home because you can watch the rare wisp of a cloud slowly pass through the cerulean sky on this Death Valley virtual adventure.
Virtual Patagonia Excursion
Bundle up and get ready for a virtual trip to South America’s mountainous wonderland, Patagonia. Leave the treacherous queues of Everest behind and find plenty of room to explore in the southern Andes Mountains. While Argentina may not seem like the best place to find glaciers, you can see plenty of them in Patagonia—not to mention fjords and lakes. And for those not accustomed to snow—or those missing it—you’ll have plenty of chances to make a virtual snowball or two.
Iguazu Falls Travel Guide
A day’s journey north of Patagonia and spanning both Argentina and Brazil, Iguazu Falls is another transnational marvel. Learn all about the 275 different waterfalls that make up Iguazu Falls from Expedia’s virtual travel guide. Aside from the crashing cascades, Iguazu Falls also features one of the greatest displays on earth—countless rainbows in the mist. As the water slams down the rocks, a delicate spray welcomes the sun’s rays to create a natural display like nowhere else. Once you get on the trail for your virtual hike, be sure to check out the parrots, toucans, and other tropical wildlife.
Yosemite National Park Virtual Hike
Walk beneath the waving sequoia canopy and step into Yosemite Valley, which nature photographer Ansel Adams described as, “A glitter of green and golden wonder in a vast edifice of stone and space.” Take a stroll through the woods to Glacier Point for sweeping views of the verdant valley floor, and then head up to Washburn Point for incredible vistas of Yosemite’s impressive geological features.
Next, take a virtual hike to Yosemite Falls and hear its tremendous roar before climbing the 1,100-metre granite monolith known as El Capitan. Complete your journey with a meander around the high country past many of the area’s pristine and shimmering alpine lakes.
Virtual Hike on Mars
If you haven’t been to Mars, you don’t know what you’re missing. Thanks to the fine folks at NASA and Google, you have a chance to follow in the tracks of the Curiosity rover and take a (hopefully not) once-in-a-lifetime trek around Mars. Put on your best spacesuit pyjamas and click your way through the barren landscape. Up the immersion factor by donning your 80s/90s-style moon boots to simulate the decreased gravity by bounding around your apartment, home, or neighbourhood. Mars is so uncharted and unknown that your leisurely exploration could uncover something no one else has ever seen, known, or imagined.
If you’re looking for ways to educate and entertain your kids, check out this guide to kid-friendly virtual tours and activities. Where do you want to go on your next virtual hike?