Posted on: April 6 2012

New Tools for Vacation-Planning Season

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Now that spring is here, for many of us, that means vacation planning! If you’re thinking about a trip to the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, or the Great Smoky Mountains, check out a new tool released last month by Nature Valley called Trail View. Similar to Google Maps, the website allows users to view hiking trails in these three major parks, both from a birds-eye view, and from a 360-degree ”street view.” The user can preview each route by clicking along a guide at the bottom of the screen that displays the length and elevation of the trail. Major points of interest are noted along the various routes.

The company also released this interesting video on the development of the project and some of the challenges the team faced creating the panoramic visuals along the 58 trails they hiked.

Full disclosure: Nature Valley is a major donor to the National Parks Conservation Association. The company has obviously caught on to the fact that many granola-eaters care about the environment, and helps to protect and encourage visitation to many of America’s most treasured places.

Looking for something further off the beaten path than these three popular parks? You might enjoy a recent feature by National Geographic on the Top Ten Underappreciated National Parks which highlights some breathtaking destinations around the country with fewer tourists flocking to their gates each season. Wherever you’re headed, if you own a smartphone, don’t forget to load it up with a few good trip-planning apps, including NPCA’s own free park guide. (Yes, we are coming out with an Android version in just a couple of weeks.) Happy trails!

-Jennifer Errick, Editor, Online Communications

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