New Google Maps Features Help You Plan the Perfect National Park Visit

Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. / Greg Clay/500px/Getty Images

Google Maps is no longer satisfied with simply guiding you to the front door of a national park—it wants to help you explore the whole place, too.

As Travel + Leisure reports, the platform recently unveiled several new features that will cut down on the supplementary internet research needed to embark on a park trip. Where there once was just a pin to mark the location of a trail, there’s now a detailed view of the whole trail from start to finish, complete with data on what activity it’s best suited for—e.g. running, biking, hiking—and its difficulty level. 

The Google Maps team has also expanded navigation capabilities to better direct you to specific entrances and trails, tailored to your mode of transportation. If you’re on a bike, for example, the map will take you to the correct trailhead for cyclists. And if you’re not exactly sure which sites within a park to prioritize, don’t worry: Google Maps identifies the popular hotspots with image pins. 

You’ll also have access to all the photos and reviews posted by other Google Maps–using park visitors. Scroll through the comments about Glacier National Park’s Hidden Lake Overlook and you’ll quickly realize that people are invariably stunned by the views, but parking is a little scant for such a highly trafficked area.

In short, the Google Maps tweaks make it easier to plan your ideal itinerary and carry it out to perfection. You can even download a map listing to follow offline, so you don’t have to stress about getting lost in the wilderness if you hit a cell service dead zone.

The updates have arrived just in time for National Park Week, which runs from April 22 to April 30. All national park properties waive admissions fees on the first day (one of five free-admission days on the calendar this year).

[h/t Travel + Leisure]