Getting a permit to raft the Grand Canyon is a notoriously difficult affair involving weighted lotteries, years of waiting and meticulously scheduled trips.
Now, thanks to Google Maps, armchair adventurers can go anytime they want.
The company announced Thursday that the folks in its mapping division have added to Google Street View a 286-mile stretch of the Colorado River, granting digital access to some of the Grand Canyon's premier sites, most of which can be reached only by boat. The project is the result of a collaboration between conservation group American Rivers and Google.
Some of the highlights include a look at Deer Creek Falls, a hike up North Canyon, a visit to Redwall Cavern and a view of the sweeping vista captured at the Nankoweap Granaries. For adrenaline seekers, the rapids are all there, too, including Lava Falls and Upset Rapids.
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In 2013, American Rivers labeled the Colorado "America's Most Endangered River," citing threats from "outdated water management, over-allocation, and persistent drought."
"One of the United States’ most important resources, the Colorado River provides drinking water for 36 million people from Denver to Los Angeles, supports a $26 billion recreation industry, and irrigates nearly 4 million acres of land that grow 15 percent of our nation’s crops," Chris Williams, senior vice president of conservation at American Rivers, wrote in a blog released Thursday.
"But it’s also one of the most endangered, dammed, diverted and plumbed rivers in the world," he continued, "thanks to a century of management policies and practices that have promoted the use of Colorado River water at an unsustainable rate. By the time it reaches the Gulf of California in Mexico, the river is barely a trickle -- a ghost of its once magnificent self."