Or picture a tight left turn on Yosemite’s Glacier Point Road where in the east iconic Half Dome suddenly appears against a backdrop of the snow-capped High Sierra.
The Google Street View service that has brought us Earth as we might not be able to afford to see it — as well criticism that some scenes along its 5 million miles of the globe’s roadways invade privacy — this month has turned its 360-degree cameras on road trips through five national parks in California.
“Everyone likes to take a road trip through a national park,” said Evan Rapoport, the Street View project manager, who was inspired by a cross-country camping trip he took after graduation. “Bringing unique places to people that they might not go in the real world is unique to Street View.”
The company sought permission from the Department of the Interior before filming in May as drivers hit the road in vehicles rigged with 15-lens cameras that point in all directions, Rapoport said. The camera fires off still images at intervals depending upon the speed of the vehicle, then custom software blurs faces and stitches all of them together into an ever-advancing 360-degree panorama.
Click right and see orange-hued boulders formed from cooling magma. Click up and squint into that fireball of a sun hovering over the southeast California desert in Joshua Tree National Park, which is featured with the others along with the forest-dense Sequoia & Kings Canyon and Redwood National Park at Crescent City near the Oregon border.
Stop in the middle of the virtual road and do a 360 without worrying about being rear-ended by a ubiquitous RV.
The project was part of a Street View “refresh” of California that involved a trip down Highway 1 along the Big Sur coast, including the famous Bixby Creek Bridge that spans the mouth of a coast-hugging canyon.