Friday, December 9, 2022


“Hike” Arizona state parks without leaving your RV


Imagine hiking an Arizona state park trail or visiting your campsite before you head out, giving you the chance to perfectly plan your hike or view your campsite. Arizona State Parks and Trails partnered with Google earlier this year to make that happen.

hikers with google camera
Staff members with their special camera.

Arizona State Parks and Trails staff used the Google R7 Trekker Camera to capture 360 degree views of all state parks and more than 175 miles of trails in and connecting to the state parks across Arizona. The data is now live on Google Earth and Google Maps, enabling visitors to see trail conditions and plan the perfect hiking adventure or preview the beauty of a park before planning a weekend adventure. Use of the camera was free after the State Park management submitted a request and detailed information about which trails would be documented.

Over six weeks, park staff hiked more than 200 miles carrying the Trekker, which weighs 45 pounds and includes 15 individual lenses to capture a 360-degree view of each trail and park. The data will help visitors understand the difficulty of trails, topography, and what to expect to see along the route, as well as the accessibility of the trail and the layout of the park. The project also had the added value of identifying any trails in need of maintenance or repair in the park system.

Google has now processed and uploaded this park data to the existing Earth and Maps databases for free use by the public. The information can also afford people the opportunity to take a virtual tour of a trail without having to physically climb or travel. For a preview of Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park, a difficult trail to hike and an important memorial site, you can view the Google data here.

Here’s how to use the virtual tool:

1. Google a state park you’re interested in checking out. For this example, search Granite Mountain Hotshots Memorial State Park and click “maps.”

2. Zoom in on the park. You see the little yellow person in the bottom right of your screen? Click on it and drag to the trail. While dragging, the trail will illuminate in blue. Set the figure down and you have entered “street view” mode.

3. Your ground level point of view will include white arrows. Click on these arrows to follow the trail. You may also toggle your view in 360-degrees to check out the world around you.


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2 years ago

Having something like this will help me get out to hike the easy trails instead my husband having to hike them twice. One to determine if it is easy enough and two, to go with me.

2 years ago

I’m surprised at the negative comments below. I am disabled and still hike. However, I don’t like surprises such as terrain that I know better than to tackle. This is a “tool” and using this tool avoids my getting into situations that I shouldn’t. And yes, I know I can turn back and have. It just feels good to complete a trail. Having a look prior to going is good thing (for me).

2 years ago

I don’t think this will result in people looking at a screen rather than doing the hike. I like the idea because my DH is disabled with a back injury and can only do one short, easy/moderate, hike a day. Having this information will help us pick hikes that are doable for him. We’ve set out before on supposedly “easy” hikes and found they are quite the opposite which caused the hike to go from fun to miserable.

We are planning an extensive trip to AZ this Spring and I’m looking forward to using this info.

Trish Bradley
2 years ago

I hope this gets to schools for Inner City kids. It’s an opportunity to see what the greater Earth can offer!

Chuck Baier
2 years ago

This is so sad. Yet another excuse to stare at a screen instead of getting out to experience the real world. Soon everyone will be living in the Matrix.

Major Jester
2 years ago
Reply to  Chuck Baier

Read the article, Chuck. The point is to prepare for the use of trails, not “an excuse to stare at a screen”. Some of us will find that helpful in determining which trails we can safely use, and which are too difficult. And what is wrong if someone who can’t get out has the opportunity to view as you put it “the real world”. Get off your high horse, sir.

Ridge Gardner
2 years ago

I met one of these guys out in the Tetons when we were working there in 2013. He told me then about the plan for virtual hikes. I have to say it saddened me.

2 years ago
Reply to  Ridge Gardner

please don’t be sad, it is a God send for those who can’t hike. We loved it, but now we are too old and have too many ailments,(knees, hips, backs, etc) lol