These days, it feels as if a trip to the grocery store — solo, of course, and safely socially distanced — is a grand adventure. Everyone is missing freedom to travel, time on the open road, and all that the great outdoors has to offer. While it’s impossible to replicate the RV life in an app, there are a few ways to enjoy nature virtually. Maybe you’ll even be inspired to start planning your next trip!
A virtual voyage through Yellowstone
Yellowstone National Park, in 1872, became the world’s first-ever-designated National Park. Humans have lived on Yellowstone’s land for over 11,000 years, and the park is home to elk, bison, songbirds, nesting birds, and over 1300 plant taxa. Currently, the park is closed to visitors, but it invites you to enjoy nature virtually. Virtual park guests can explore some of the top attractions, watch live webcams, and download a smartphone app for ease of virtual enjoyment.
The National Park Service has created a story map of the Upper Geyser Basin, which takes viewers along the boardwalks. There are also virtual tours of Fort Yellowstone, the Fountain Paint Pot, the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Mammoth Hot Springs, the Mud Volcano, and the Norris Geyser Basin.
There is a live-streaming webcam of Old Faithful. Static webcams, which refresh approximately twice a minute, cover Electric Peak at the North Entrance, Mammoth Hot Springs, Mount Washburn, Yellowstone Lake, and Yellowstone National Park entrances where viewers can monitor current conditions.
The NPS Yellowstone App is free in the Apple Store and the Google Play Store. It lets you explore park sites, check geyser and other statuses in real time, see events on the calendar, and plan your visit to the park once it’s open again.
Monday mindful meditations in the garden
Lockdowns and uncertainty are likely to make lots of people stressed and depressed. What could be better than live-streamed meditation sessions with the pretty, peaceful Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden as a backdrop? This free nature virtual event is held every Monday.
If you can’t attend the live-streamed sessions, videos are available on the Botanical Garden’s Facebook page. Some of their other virtual events where you can enjoy nature online with friends include sessions of Mother Nature’s Medicines and Yoga at the Garden.
You can also explore the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden on your own through videos on their Facebook page or photo galleries on their website. Some highlights that you won’t want to miss include the Meredith Terraces, the Water Garden, the Wells Fargo Rose Garden, and the absolutely adorable March of the Goslings video.
Are you a park junkie? Prove it!
The Northeast Region of the National Parks Conservation Association — which represents Minute Man National Historical Park, Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, and Acadia National Park, among others — and Trivia For Us are hosting a Virtual Park Trivia Night on April 24, 2020. There will be prizes for the top three places. Register with Eventbrite to participate. If you miss this event, check back and see if another one will happen in the future!
If you’ve spent a lot of time on the road, this is the time and place to show off what you’ve learned in your travels. It’s also a great way to safely spend time with other people who share your interests in spending time in the great outdoors. And even if you know a lot about the parks you’ve visited or plan to visit, there’s always the chance that you’ll find out about a hidden treasure so you can plan your next RV trip!
There are way too many nature Zoom events and other online tours and trips to list them all, but a few of our other favorites include:
- Home Safari Tours at the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
- Google Museum Tours: Tour hundreds of museums around the world, many of which include gardens, conservatories, and other nature-related displays
- Birthplaces of Music: Tour Vienna, Austria; New Orleans, Louisiana; Cleveland, Ohio; and Bristol, Tennessee to learn about classical, jazz, rock, and country music and how each physical location impacted the development of each sound and culture