Grand Canyon, the Google Street View version

A 360-degree view from the famous Bright Angel Trail.

Street View imagery of the Grand Canyon is now available on Google Maps.

Says a spokesperson, "Our team visited this spectacular national monument last October to collect the imagery, and after covering more than 75 miles of trails and surrounding roads, the panoramic views are now accessible to anyone around the world thinking about visiting in person, or wanting to make a virtual trip instead."

Here's the Google blog post with few of the 9,500+ panoramas they captured, and here's an explanation of how they did it, and with what gear.

Product Manager Ryan Falor with an Android phone and a "Trekker."

The Street View team is using the Trekker—a wearable backpack with a camera system on top—to traverse the Grand Canyon and capture 360-degree images of one of the most breathtaking natural landscapes on the planet. The narrow ridges and steep, exposed trails of the Grand Canyon provide the perfect terrain for our newest camera system. The Trekker—which its operator controls via an Android phone and automatically gathers photos as he walks—enables the collection of high-quality imagery from places that are only accessible on foot.

Operations Manager Steve Silverman (left) and Product Manager Ryan Falor (right) hiking the Bright Angel Trail on the South Rim with Trekkers.



  1. Very nice!  When we went as a young couple we didn’t win the camping lottery, and my wife wasn’t up to the challenge of doing the descent and ascent in one day, so I missed out.  So this is even for people who go but couldn’t get down into the canyon.

    Also, I’m a hiker, but hiking with that kind of gear on looks quite challenging.  I played around on the rim when I went, but probably wouldn’t with that kind of lever on my back!  Thanks, Ryan, Steve, and crew!

    1. Agreed on hiking with that kind of gear. On the last two Canyon backpacks I went on, my starting pack weight was around 40lbs including water for that day (one was a 7 day trip, the other an 8, IIRC), and that was much tighter to my body. Anything that’s not right next to your back can really throw off your balance, and while the trails that Google has mapped are corridor trails that are mostly highway-like, balance is still relevant.

      That said, it looks like they kept the batteries and heavy portions of that setup low and close, so it might not have been too bad overall.

  2. This is truly a wonderful thing. I’ve hiked the canyon twice and it’s great to zoom down into my favorite spots.  Of course, it leaves me wanting more.  Why didn’t they do the North Kaibob trail?  I’d love to explore Ribbon Falls again.

    1. Did you happen to take the time to head up to check out Upper Ribbon or Upper Upper Ribbon Falls? We tried to make it up to Upper Upper on our last trip, but vegetation finally got the better of us… Absolutely gorgeous country, and there’s not really much of anything like it. (Two canyon backpacks myself, and my wife and I are planning for the next one already, with the hope of working our way up to the Royal Arch route in a year or two!)

    1. I don’t see the problem. While this is second to actually getting out and hiking, it’s nice for those of us that to get to a NP like this is a months-long production.

  3. I’m torn on this- on the one hand, it means that I can poke around some of the corridor trails online, which is awesome. On the other hand, I refuse to even carry a GPS on backpacking trips in the canyon and elsewhere, so this just feels wrong somehow. If it’s battery-powered and isn’t a headlamp or the like, I’ll pass- give me some paper USGS quads and a decent magnetic compass any day.

    That said, I do recognize that I have a technology problem. :P

    1. So you make an exception for evil technological headlamps? Why? Unless it is a flaming torch built from the bones and hide of a coyote you killed with your teeth, you aren’t getting the true spirit of the outdoors.

  4. Given the speed of hiking those trails, it is hard to forget the actual experience of being in the canyon.

    The Google works can’t easily replicate that. Nor the state I was in after hiking in and out in the same day. While I was truly intrigued by those rim to rim runners who passed me, I thought that they were quite missing the point of being there.

  5. This makes me really dissatisfied with my current physical location. The almost-smirk on Ryan Falor’s face must be for actually getting paid to do this.

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