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35 National Parks You Can Tour Online Right Now

Exploring the great outdoors just got a whole lot easier with these webcams and virtual tours at America's top national parks.

USA, Washington, Mt. Rainier National Park, field with wildflowersRene Frederick/Getty Images

Let’s hear it for national parks!

While the world continues to battle the novel coronavirus, many people are sticking close to come, which means we can’t trek through the wonders of nature at America’s national parks. But thanks to technology we can still see the magnificence of many of the country’s national parks through virtual tours, live webcams, and Google Earth images. Virtual tours are taking place at dozens of national parks right now, but we’ve rounded up 35 of the best parks to explore and maybe inspire you to get out there and see the real thing one day! Before you read further check out these awesome facts about America’s national parks.

Some National Historic Sites are Under-VisitedThe Washington Post/Getty Images

The Clara Barton National Historic Site

With this virtual tour of the Clara Barton National Historic Site in Glen Echo, Maryland, you can explore Barton’s home, which includes three stories and 12 refurbished rooms. The tour is best experienced with headphones so you can listen to recordings of Clara Barton as you tour the house. Kids will even enjoy this tour since there are so many interactive activities and they get a printable certificate of completion after the tour and activities are over. Barton, of course, was the founder and first president of the American Red Cross.

Hot Springs National Parkzrfphoto/Getty Images

Hot Springs National Park

Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is a massive piece of land encompassing over 20 miles of trails, 40 hot springs, and historic Bathhouse Row. The park originally was home to Native Americans as they were searching to quarry novaculite. The virtual tour of Hot Springs National Park will take you through the history, culture, nature, and a tour of Bathhouse Row. For even more national park fun, check out these ones that are off the beaten path.

Trunk Beach, view from North Shore Road, Virgin Islands National Park, St. John, US Virgin Islands.Jeff Greenberg/Getty Images

Virgin Islands National Park

St. John is mostly considered an island paradise, but almost two-thirds of the land is dedicated as a national park. Virgin Islands National Park has sandy beach lined shores, coral reefs, and even historic petroglyphs, which were carved by the Taino Indians. The majority of this virtual tour shows off the plantations and windmills used when the island was used as a sugar plantation. Be sure not to miss the 3D tour of Annaberg Plantation to see an example of Danish Colonial Era industrial agriculture.

Historic Colonial era building in NY parkBarry Winiker/Getty Images

Hamilton Grange National Memorial

For those who love history or the musical Hamilton, virtually touring the Hamilton Grange National Memorial in New York City will be a real treat. The video tour is given by Jordan Fisher, who starred in the Broadway show. The highlights of the tour of Hamilton’s home and final resting place in Harlem include the ornate formal dining room and Hamilton’s private study. If you crave even more history, check out Bandelier National Monument.

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon, USARobert Alexander/Getty Images

Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park is the only national park located in Oregon and features the deepest lake in the United States. The lake was caused by a volcanic eruption and collapse, and the area was turned into a national park in 1902. During the virtual tour of Crater Lake National Park your guides will be country music star Dierks Bentley and park ranger Charlie. Do not miss the clips of the sunrise over Garfield Peak! For more natural beauty, check out some of the most beautiful gardens in America.

Washington Monument on the Reflecting Pool in Washington, DC, USA at dawn.Prasit photo/Getty Images

National Mall and Memorial Parks

While your plans to visit Washington, D.C., are likely on hold, you can still enjoy the sights and sounds of the National Mall via this live feed camera. The view from the Bloom Cam based at the National Mall Tidal Basin changes every 60 seconds so you can spot the Washington Monument, The Jefferson Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. Don’t miss the best national parks to visit for spring wildflowers.

Potato Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, CaliforniaGaryKavanagh/Getty Images

Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park, a chain of small islands off of the Southern California coast, has a unique biome that allows for all types of plants, animals, and sea life to call this place home. In fact, many of these plants and animals are only found at Channel Islands National Park. You can virtually get up close to some of the underwater creatures by viewing the underwater live ocean webcam. Be on the lookout for the over 1,000 different types of marine species that call this part of the ocean their home. When you’re done, check out these stunning hummingbird photos.

New York City Skyline Statue of LibertyTriggerPhoto/Getty Images

Statue of Liberty National Monument

The symbol of freedom is still standing tall in New York Harbor, and you can get a peek at Lady Liberty through the live webcam. The Statue of Liberty National Monument webcam shows off views of the New York City skyline, the Hudson River, ships in the harbor, and of course the Statue of Liberty herself. If you’re an early riser you can catch the sunrise over the city and Statue of Liberty each morning.

Yellowstone Grand CanyonKelly Cheng Travel Photography/Getty Images

Yellowstone National Park

If visiting Old Faithful, the most famous of Yellowstone National Park’s 500+ natural geysers, is on your bucket list, tune into the live webcam of Old Faithful and wait for her to erupt, spewing water up from the ground. The park in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho has eight other webcams, though they’re all static. While you’re watching, see if you can spot some of Yellowstone’s amazing wildlife. If you plan to visit in person, check out the best RV parks in every state.

Katmai National ParkChase Dekker Wild-Life Images/Getty Images

Katmai National Park and Reserve

Go brown bear spotting at Katmai National Park and Reserve in King Salmon, Alaska, via one of the park’s six live webcams. Brooks Falls and Riffles are the best places to see them hunting for salmon, while mother bears and their cubs can be spotted on the Lower River cam. The River cam is another favorite; it gives views of the shoreline and below water so you can see salmon swimming and even spot a bear as they swim to catch a few fish. Note that the cams are seasonal and only run in the summer.

Lake and mountain landscape with early-morning fogLaraBelova/Getty Images

Kenai Fjords National Park

To feel like you’re in the movie Frozen without leaving home, tune in to the 360 virtual tour of the Kenai Fjords in Alaska. The virtual tour is hosted by one of the park’s rangers and allows you to ultimately create your own adventure as you explore the top landmarks of the park including a glacier crevice. The ultimate adventure comes as you virtually kayak through icebergs!

Carlsbad CavernsSean Pavone/Getty Images

Carlsbad Caverns National Park

New Mexico’s Carlsbad Caverns is known for its massive population of bats; in fact, the caverns are home to over one million bats during their migration season. Experience the excitement of the bats leave the caves, some of the stunning natural rock formations, and even trek through the caverns using a headlamp through its 360 virtual tour.

Hawaii's Kilauea Caldera at TwilightKevin Thrash/Getty Images

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

While some people dream of simply laying on the beaches others look forward to exploring the volcanoes that formed the islands of Hawaii. This 360 virtual tour of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island satisfies both urges as you’ll get up close to a lava tube, fly over an active volcano, and look over volcanic cliffs. The tour’s host is a ranger from the national park who shares lots of fun facts about the volcanoes along the way. Here’s one of the best birding destinations in Hawaii.

Bryce canyon sunrise(c) Swapan Jha/Getty Images

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah is known for its stunning nighttime sky that’s lit up by thousands of stars. During this 360 virtual tour of Bryce Canyon National Park, you’ll stargaze with one of the park’s rangers, ride horseback through the canyon, and even get up close to hoodoos.

Aerial view of Dry Tortugas National Park, Fort Jefferson, Dry TortugasStephen Frink/Getty Images

Dry Tortugas National Park

Located in the Gulf of Mexico to the west of Key West, Dry Tortugas National Park is overflowing with sea life, a massive unfinished fort, and legends of shipwrecks and treasure. The virtual 360 tour of Dry Tortugas National Park allows you to dive to one of the shipwrecks and look around, swim through one of the world’s largest coral reef to spot unique sea creatures, and tour a Civil War-era fort.

Brilliantly Sunlit View of Mount Rushmore National Monumenttravelpixpro/Getty Images

Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Thanks to Google Earth and 360 camera technology you can take a self-guided tour through Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota. The park is most well known for is carving of four previous presidents on the side of a cliff, but it is also home to a variety of nature trails and mountain views. Be sure to virtually walk the presidential trail to get up close to the mountainside carving and spot some of the wildlife that calls this area home.

Sunrise on Yosemite ValleyBartfett/Getty Images

Yosemite National Park

Get up close and personal with California’s Yosemite Falls, a massive waterfall that is over 2,425 feet tall with thousands of gallons of water gushing over each second via the live webcam. Be sure to watch the sunset to see the falls light up akin to lava flowing over the edge.

New Bedford Whaling National Historical Parkfdastudillo/Getty Images

New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park

Learn about one of the world’s most pertinent 19th-century whaling ports with a virtual tour of the New Bedford Whaling National Historic Park in Massachusetts. Take a virtual tour of the Nathan and Polly Johnson House, which is not open to the public today and was a major part of the Underground Railroad.

Jordan Pond in Autumn panorama, Acadia National ParkPictureLake/Getty Images

Acadia National Park

Weather watchers will love the live webcam at Acadia National Park in Maine where you’re able to see storms as they come across the horizon. The sunrises are pretty spectacular, too. The feed refreshes once every 60 seconds and changes angles once every two minutes. For more national park inspiration, check out these spectacular national park birding sites..

USA, South Dakota, Badlands National Park, Beautiful ""striped"" rock formationBryan Mullennix/Getty Images

Badlands National Park

Hikers and adventure seekers head to South Dakota’s Badlands National Park, known for its dramatic rock formations and deep canyons, to explore the wonders of nature. You can virtually explore Badlands National Park with the help of Google Earth. Be sure to virtually drive Loop Road, which takes you all the way around the park with scenic pit stops along the way.

Death Valley National ParkDougLemke/Getty Images

Death Valley National Park

California’s Death Valley National Park is a place of extremes: It’s the driest and hottest spot in North America with less than two inches of rain each year. It also has the lowest elevation on the continent at over 280 feet below sea level. Take a self-guided virtual tour keeping an eye out for wildflower fields and towering sand dunes which can be over 680 feet tall.

Alcatraz, San Francisco, California, USA4FR/Getty Images

Alcatraz Island

One of the most unique locations the National Park Service keeps open for visitors is Alcatraz Island, California, home to the infamous Alcatraz Prison. The virtual tour of the island includes a photo gallery of relics left behind by inmates and stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Joshua Tree National Parkgarytog/Getty Images

Joshua Tree National Park

Two deserts come together to create a diverse biome that is unique to the small piece of land that makes up Joshua Tree National Park. The Mojave and Colorado deserts collide in the middle of California bringing with it dark night skies, strong wind, rain, and an abundance of unique species. Virtually tour Joshua Tree National Park by watching videos about the natural life in the park and exploring Key’s Ranch.

Paradise Ridgejamcgraw/Getty Images

Mount Rainier National Park

Washington state’s Mount Rainier National Park is best known for its hiking trails and natural beauty. Wake up early to catch the sunrise over the mountain, then try to see how many of the park’s various waterfalls you can spot on the live webcams.

Florida wetland, Airboat ride at Everglades National Park in USAromrodinka/Getty Images

Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is a marshy wetland area that covers over two million square miles across central and south Florida. The park is home to hundreds of animal species including birds, reptiles, and mammals. While watching the park’s live webcam see how many of the park’s 347 animal species you can spot. Everglades National Park is a popular place to hike.

Wupatki National Monumentpowerofforever/Getty Images

Wupatki National Monument

Head to the virtual tour of Wupatki National Monument in Arizona’s Painted Desert to spy red rock hills that roll on forever, prairies filled with wildlife, and ancient pueblos. The tour will teach you about the lives of the Hopi people who called the area home 1,000 years ago.

DELICATE ARCHlightpix/Getty Images

Arches National Park

Arches National Park in Utah is named for its 2,000+ unique rock formations that look like arches that you can walk through and stand under. You can experience them for yourself on its virtual tour. A highlight is a balanced rock, a massive boulder balanced upon a very thin pillar. Make time to check out these dazzling bird photos.

The Window in the Chisos Mountains of Big Bend National ParkPhotography by Deb Snelson/Getty Images

Big Bend National Park

Nestled in the wide-open plains of southwest Texas, Big Bend National Park invites you to take a virtual tour of the ever-changing landscape. The park’s live webcam looks out over Panther Junction, where you can spot rolling storms coming in, and the occasional animal strolling past. The camera view is updated every 15 minutes. On clear days you can mountains that are up to 80 miles in the distance.

Mount McKinley (Denali)zzvision/Getty Images

Denali National Park

Denali National Park is one of the most untouched landscapes in all of Alaska. It’s known for its population of grizzly bears, beautiful mountain views, hiking trails, and glaciers. There are a variety of webcams to use to peek in at the park. A favorite is the one for Wonder Lake, where every morning. you can see the sunrise over the lake and mountains. The webcams are turned on during the summer months. Learn how to spot winter wildlife.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Parkzrfphoto/Getty Images

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado features some of the steepest and oldest rock formations inside a United States national park. You can take a virtual tour of the park to watch the sunrise over Grizzly Ridge and do some bear spotting.

Glacier National Park, MontanaJeanMarieBiele/Getty Images

Glacier National Park

Located in the heart of Montana, Glacier National Park is filled with the wonder of nature, including multiple glass-like lakes, tall snow-capped mountains, and hiking trails edged by towering trees. The park has multiple webcams so you can experience the park from different angles; favorites are Apgar Mountain, Lake McDonald, and the St. Mary’s Visitors Center.

Grand Canyon Toroweap Point Sunrisekojihirano/Getty Images

Grand Canyon National Park

As one of the most famous American national parks, Arizona’s Grand Canyon National Park barely needs an introduction. You can virtually hike Phantom Ranch Trail or head on a river raft tour down the Colorado River.

Sequoia national park treesfranckreporter/Getty Images

Sequoia National Park

Virtually explore California’s Sequoia National Park with Google Earth 360. The tour will take you up close to some of the largest and tallest sequoia trees, including the General Sherman Tree. You can also virtually hike up to Crystal Cave, where you’ll experience caverns and caves with bright with marble karst. The wonder of nature is on full display in the sequoias.

Cuyahoga Valley National Parkbenedek/Getty Images

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Cuyahoga Valley National Park is celebrated for its views of the Cuyahoga River in Ohio. The park itself has multiple waterfalls and hiking trails. On your virtual visit be sure to admire Brandywine Falls from the boardwalk and bask in the glory of Blue Hen Falls. Don’t miss these migratory hot spots for spring birds.

Bison In Wind Cave National Parktraveler1116/Getty Images

Wind Cave National Park

One of America’s oldest national parks, Wind Cave National Park, sits below the prairies of South Dakota. The park features one of the most complex cave systems in the world. On your virtual tour lookout for bison that still roam the prairie and bats as they fly in and out of the caves.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Megan duBois
Megan duBois is a regular contributor to RD.com's Travel and Culture sections, where she writes about theme parks, pop culture, and food. Her articles have also appeared on Buzzfeed, Popsugar, Insider, Orbitz, The Daily Meal and more. duBois has been quoted as an expert on theme parks for Forbes and other outlets. She earned her BA in Communications from The University of North Florida. Follow her on Instagram @MinglingwithMickey and Twitter @Megand315.