Friday, February 23, 2018
Travel

Google cameras take rafting trip through Grand Canyon

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz.

Google has taken its all-seeing eyes on a trip that few experience: the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

The search giant partnered with the advocacy group American Rivers to showcase views of nearly 300 miles of whitewater rapids, towering red canyon walls and rich geologic history.

The 360-degree views that went live this month in Google's Street View map option once were reserved largely for rafters willing to pay hefty fees for guided trips down the river.

Google project leader Karin Tuxen-Bettman hopes the images educate the public about the waterway that American Rivers listed as the most endangered in 2013 because of drought and overuse.

"We hope this inspires viewers to take an active interest in preserving it," she said.

Federal officials and environmentalists have been raising alarms recently about demand outstripping supply on the river serving about 40 million people in seven Western states.

"It's just a valuable snapshot in time of what the river is like right now," said Amy Kober of American Rivers.

Google used two rosettes of cameras mounted on two rafts to capture the imagery in August and then stitched it together. The crew of nearly 20 people, including guides, spent eight mostly sunny days on the river.

The company said the river views are the first of their kind it has published on Street View from the United States. In 2011, Google mounted its Street View trike on a boat and went up the Rio Negro, a tributary of the Amazon, Tuxen-Bettman said.

The company also has used pushcarts and snowmobiles to map places where vehicles cannot travel. In late 2012, Google mapped the most popular Grand Canyon hiking trails using cameras mounted on a backpack.

For rafters on the Colorado River, trips can cost from several hundred dollars to $3,000 a person. Grand Canyon National Park limits the number of people who can go on self-guided trips through a highly competitive lottery and has an annual cap on the number of commercial, motorized trips.

One of the first things virtual visitors might notice is the remoteness of the canyon where rafters spend a few days or nearly a month navigating whitewater rapids, hiking side canyons, snapping photos of waterfalls and endangered species, and savoring the solitude. It's a place where cellphones don't work and rafters pack only what they need.

Rich Harter went on his first commercial trip in 1997 and has returned for rafting trips six times. He'll direct new visitors to Google's Street View to get a feel for what he has experienced.

"The scale is so immense and the geology is so varied, and the time frame over which the canyon formed is just so long," he said. "How do you describe these things to people that haven't seen them? You can't."

 
Comments
A look at new ships and trends in cruising for 2018

A look at new ships and trends in cruising for 2018

What’s new in cruising for 2018? As usual, there’s lots of razzle-dazzle — laser tag, water slides, zip lines and massive LED screens — along with a continued emphasis on healthy lifestyle options, from dining to fitness. But there are also changes u...
Published: 02/23/18
As spring approaches, parties, food festivals bloom at Florida’s theme parks

As spring approaches, parties, food festivals bloom at Florida’s theme parks

Can you feel it? The air is gradually thickening with humidity and the layers of clothes are getting thinner. Spring has almost sprung and with it brings a bumper crop of festivals in Florida’s theme parks full of food, wine, concerts and parades. Th...
Published: 02/21/18
Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

Clearwater Beach named No. 1 in U.S. by TripAdvisor

A reigning champion for sand and sunshine, Tampa Bay is once again home to what’s been deemed the best beach in the country. Clearwater Beach was named the best beach in the U.S. for 2018 by the popular travel site TripAdvisor reclaiming the crown tw...
Published: 02/21/18
SeaWorld uses food, concerts as bait for Seven Seas Food Festival

SeaWorld uses food, concerts as bait for Seven Seas Food Festival

Seaworld Seven Seas Food Festival at the Orlando park with an expanded menu celebrating two of Florida’s most popular types of food: barbecue and Latin-inspired dishes.DateSWeekends now through April 15.EntertainmentLike its sister park Busch Gardens...
Published: 02/21/18
What to expect at Universal’s Mardi Gras party of parades, food and pop concerts

What to expect at Universal’s Mardi Gras party of parades, food and pop concerts

Universal studios MaThe annual Mardi Gras celebration is up and running at Universal Studios, bringing the Big Easy’s charm and food out every night, and this year it tosses in new floats and music.Six new constellation-themed Mardi Gras floats have ...
Published: 02/21/18
What to expect at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival 2018

What to expect at Epcot’s Flower and Garden Festival 2018

International Flower and Garden FestivalCelebrating the big 25 this year, the International Flower and Garden Festival is one of Disney World’s longest and oldest celebrations, on par with Epcot’s popular Food and Wine Festival. Lately the two have s...
Published: 02/21/18
Busch Gardens sharpens food, concert menu in Food and Wine Festival’s fourth year

Busch Gardens sharpens food, concert menu in Food and Wine Festival’s fourth year

Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival At just 4 years old, the Busch Gardens Food and Wine Festival is the baby among the state’s many spring festivals. Park managers heavily rely on customer feedback to keep retooling the weekends-only food and conce...
Published: 02/21/18
I sat through Disney's Hall of Presidents five times. It says more about us than Trump.

I sat through Disney's Hall of Presidents five times. It says more about us than Trump.

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Next time you’re at the Magic Kingdom, walk up Main Street USA and hang a left at Cinderella’s castle. Enter the faux colonial Liberty Square, with its exact replica Liberty Bell and "liberty tree" adorned with 1...
Published: 02/15/18
Southern states join to promote civil rights tourism

Southern states join to promote civil rights tourism

Associated PressBIRMINGHAM, Ala.Southern states that once fought to maintain racial segregation are now banding together to promote civil rights tourism at sites including the building where the Confederacy was born and the motel where Dr. Martin Lut...
Published: 02/15/18
Savor a fun snow day at Winter Park Resort in Colorado

Savor a fun snow day at Winter Park Resort in Colorado

We had two things in mind when my daughters and I planned a quick weekend getaway for January: cheap airfare and winter fun.Denver? Sure.Because we couldn’t guarantee there would be snow in the Mile High City, we aimed higher to increase our chances....
Updated one month ago