Google Street View Team Maps Colorado River Through Grand Canyon

If you’ve researched homes to rent or buy, or met some­one at a restau­rant in an unfa­mil­iar part of town, odds are you first snuck a peek at the loca­tion using Google’s Street View tech­nol­o­gy, which enables users to view super-high-res­o­lu­tion panoram­ic shots of any place the Google Street View teams have cap­tured with their mas­sive 15-lens cam­eras. You can use the tech­nol­o­gy to explore art gal­leries, ski resorts, sta­di­ums, Robert Fal­con Scot­t’s hut in Antarc­ti­ca, and today, for the first time ever, 286 miles of the Col­orado Riv­er as it winds through the Grand Canyon.

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The Col­orado Riv­er map­ping project launched ear­ly this morn­ing in part­ner­ship with Amer­i­can Rivers, a nation­al non-prof­it con­ser­va­tion orga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cat­ed to pro­tect­ing and restor­ing Amer­i­ca’s rivers and to fos­ter­ing riv­er stew­ard­ship. Amer­i­can Rivers com­mu­ni­ca­tions direc­tor Amy Kober announced that the orga­ni­za­tion, which named the Col­orado Riv­er Amer­i­ca’s Most Endan­gered Riv­er in 2013, hopes Google’s images will bring renewed atten­tion to the chal­lenges fac­ing the river’s health.

Google kicked off its Street View project in 2007. Since then, accord­ing to Mash­able, the Street Team has snapped tens of mil­lions of images and put more than 5 mil­lion unique miles on their cam­era vehi­cles’ odome­ters. Along the way the team has endured count­less unbro­ken stares from curi­ous chil­dren and con­fused geri­atrics and faced harass­ment by police and pranksters. But cap­tur­ing one of the coun­try’s most pro­lif­ic and endan­gered rivers pre­sent­ed a new chal­lenge for the search giant: Whitewater.

We hope this inspires
view­ers to take an active inter­est in pre­serv­ing it.

The best way to expe­ri­ence a riv­er is to run it. In August 2013, for­tu­nate mem­bers of the Google Street View team and Amer­i­can Rivers staff board­ed a raft pilot­ed by out­fit­ter Ari­zona Riv­er Run­ners for an 8‑day float through the Grand Canyon from Lee’s Fer­ry to Pearce Fer­ry. They used a spe­cial mount to con­nect the cam­era to the raft so it would­n’t bounce into the depths in big water. Mem­bers of the Google Street View team also wore spe­cial back­pack-mount­ed cam­eras to cap­ture five hikes along the way.

“Mak­ing Street View imagery avail­able of the Col­orado Riv­er is a tremen­dous oppor­tu­ni­ty for us to dri­ve inter­est for this his­tor­i­cal and nat­ur­al land­mark,” says Karin Tux­en-Bettman, Project Lead for Col­orado Riv­er Street View. “We hope this inspires view­ers to take an active inter­est in pre­serv­ing it.”

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The Col­orado Riv­er now joins remote places such as the Ama­zon Bas­in’s Rio Negro Reserve and under­wa­ter marine wildlife sanc­tu­ar­ies in the Gala­pa­gos Islands and Aus­trali­a’s Great Bar­ri­er Reef on Google’s grow­ing list of wild places mapped. And it won’t be the last.

In Feb­ru­ary 2014, on Inter­na­tion­al Polar Bear Day, Google released Street View-style images from the shores of Canada’s Hud­son Bay, where Google experts work­ing with researchers for Polar Bear Inter­na­tion­al attached cam­eras to the wheels of gigan­tic trucks to cre­ate an image map of the area sur­round­ing Churchill, Man­i­to­ba, one of the few places polar bears can still be observed in the wild. As with the Col­orado Riv­er project, the effort was a win for conservationists—and for Google.google-street-view-gc3

More and more, Google is able to pro­vide results that enable the curi­ous to explore the world’s wild places at the click of a but­ton. What they’re doing rais­es aware­ness of nature’s spec­tac­u­lar boun­ty and is help­ing con­ser­va­tion efforts. But it’s not where your search should end. 

See the Col­orado Riv­er like nev­er before here and here. And learn more about why Amer­i­can Rivers named it Amer­i­ca’s Most Endan­gered Riv­er here