With Google’s Street View we can amble through New York City’s High Line Park, around the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, and down the cobbled streets of Ouro Preto, Brazil. Now we can also take a virtual hike along the rim of the Grand Canyon, following Google’s cameras along the historic Bright Angel trail from its start at the south rim all the way down the Black Bridge over the Colorado River and on to the Phantom Ranch camping area.
It’s a perfect way to check out the terrain before taking off for an Arizona vacation.
Unlike views in Google’s earlier Street View maps, the Grand Canyon photos are taken along rocky, narrow trails where no car, snow mobile, or motorbike could ever go. So how did Google collect all of the necessary images?
The Grand Canyon project is the first to utilize Trekker, a backpack-mounted camera apparatus worn by a hiker that takes a picture every 2.5 seconds. Trekker weighs 40 pounds and is operated by an Android phone held by the hiker. It has 15 cameras pointed in different angles that can be combined to create panoramic views.
Follow the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point for majestic 360-degree views of the misty blue Canyon. It took three days to capture the main trails of the Canyon’s south rim. Two teams hiked down the Bright Angel Trail, camped at Phantom Ranch and hiked out the next day along the South Kaibab Trail. Another team stayed at the top, collecting images from the rim and from Meteor Crater outside the park.
Kate Rix writes about digital media and education. Read more of her work at katerixwriter.com.