The desk-bound can now explore one of the West's last wild rivers without leaving their chairs, thanks to a new project that uses Google Street View technology on a float trip down Colorado's Yampa River.
The virtual river trip, organized by nonprofit conservation organization American Rivers, travels through Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah, showcasing dramatic canyon walls with sedimentary rocks layered like a birthday cake and twisted by tectonic forces.
The American Rivers team even strapped Google's cameras to their backs to capture side hikes up the canyons, ending at breathtaking overlooks.
The goals are to promote the conservation of the Yampa and to highlight a waterway that has been left largely as nature created it, with only two minor dams in its headwaters.
The river runs 250 miles (402 kilometers) from the mountains of Colorado through Dinosaur National Monument, where it flows into the Green River.
"The wild Yampa is important because it shows that we can sustain vibrant agriculture while conserving endangered fish and supporting recreation," American Rivers' Matt Rice, director of the Colorado River Basin Programs, said in a statement.
Capturing the view In 2014, American Rivers released the first "River View" project, a 286-mile-long (460 km) float down the Colorado River.
The Yampa project was similar: Working with local rafting outfitter O.A.R.S., and partnering with the conservation group Friends of the Yampa, cameras onto a raft and launched on a four-day float trip from Craig, Colorado. The trip ended near Vernal, Utah, after the Yampa met the Green River.
The Google cameras snapped 360-degree panoramas every few seconds of the trip, which were then stitched together to create a simulation of the stunning scenery. As with Google Street View, computer users can drop a person-shaped pin on the river and then click through to explore.