The United States National Park Service is celebrating its 100th birthday throughout this month. In celebration, it's giving out free entry to all of its 412 national parks from Friday, August 25 until Sunday, August 28.
But if you’re not lucky enough to pay these places a visit in person, the National Park Service has hooked up with Google Arts & Culture to create 360-degree interactive video tours of five of the US National Parks hosted through YouTube.
You can watch Google’s trailer for the project below, and head over to The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks website for the full experience. It’s also available for smartphones through the Google Arts & Culture App on iOS and Android.
The project features beautifully shot and immersive scenes from the Kenai Fjords in Alaska, Hawai’i Volcanoes, Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Bryce Canyon in Utah, and Dry Tortugas in Florida.
Simply by scrolling around the scenes and clicking on the interactive thumbnails, you’re able to look around the sights (and hear the sounds) of these landscapes, while learning about their history and wildlife through a “guided tour” narration by an expert local ranger.
This anniversary marks 100 years since President Woodrow Wilson created the unified National Park Service on August 25, 1916. His hopes were to preserve “the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.” National Parks did exist before this – the first of which was the Yellowstone National Park, established in 1872. However, Wilson’s act was the first move to creating the unified web of parks we know and love today.