Google offers 360-degree tours of US National Parks

Take a trip from the comfort of your living room.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the US National Parks Service, Google has put together a collection of virtual tours combining 360-degree video, panoramic photos and expert narration. It's called "The Hidden Worlds of the National Parks" and is accessible right from the browser. You can choose from one of five different locales, including the Kenai Fjords in Alaska and Bryce Canyon in Utah, and get a guided "tour" from a local park ranger. Each one has a few virtual vistas to explore, with documentary-style voiceovers and extra media hidden behind clickable thumbnails.

There's plenty to sit through, along with a larger exhibit put together by the Google Arts & Culture team. The site is essentially a hub for Google's various exhibits -- each section is like a miniature museum, containing high-res photographs of important places, documents and artefacts.

While both websites are suitable for the classroom, teachers in the US might want to try a "Hidden Worlds Expedition" instead. They're designed for the Expeditions app -- a two-pronged approach to virtual school trips. While the children look around with Google Cardboard headsets, the teacher can give a running commentary using a fact sheet accessible from their smartphone or tablet. Together, it's hoped that these resources can get people interested in the great outdoors, and appreciate what the National Parks Service is fighting to preserve on a daily basis.