By Alexandra Burlacu email: email@example.com | Feb 04, 2013 01:47 PM EST
Google Maps has expanded to the Grand Canyon, offering breathtaking panoramas of the spectacular national monument to anyone willing to click or swipe around.
While the Google Maps experience is certainly nothing compared to a real hike through the Grand Canyon, it does allow users to get a good idea of what to expect and could even help users plan their trip.
Panoramic images of the Grand Canyon went online this week on Google Maps, displaying more than 75 miles worth of magical trails and surrounding roads. Users can move their mouse or swipe their finger to make their way through any of the Canyon's trails and admire some of the images the Google Maps team captured.
In October 2012, Google mounted cameras on backpacks and sent hikers along the trails of the Grand Canyon. The so-called Trekker snapped images every 2.5 seconds, picturing the breathtaking views. Google has now finished processing, stitching together, and turning those images into panoramic, scrollable images to share with everyone.
"This Breathtaking imagery collection was made possible with the Trekker," Google Maps Product Manager Ryan Falor said in a company blog post. "Our team strapped on the Android-operated 40-pound backpacks carrying the 15-lens camera system and wound along the rocky terrain on foot, enduring temperature swings and a few muscle cramps along the way. Together, more than 9,500 panoramas of this masterpiece of nature are now available on Google Maps."
Moreover, Google said it wants to use the same strategy and deploy backpackers to other natural parks and forests, as well as ancient ruins and castles. To map places where vehicles cannot travel, the company has also used tricycles, push carts, and snow-mobiles.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and, in some parts, up to a mile deep. It is a steep-sided natural scar the Colorado River has carved in the Arizona landscape and shows nearly two billion years of the Earth's geological history as the river made its way through layers of rock.
The virtual tour of the Grand Canyon marks Google's latest advance in mapping technology, and enriches Google Maps with astonishing images of one of the world's most speclacular places. For more details, watch the video or take a virtual hike down the Canyon's trails.