Discover #18in18 Ways to Experience Parks...Anywhere

brown bear swims
The brown bears at Brooks Camp in Katmai show excellent swimming skills by diving and snorkeling to fish for salmon. And you can watch them on the bearcam!

NPS photo

No matter your age, location, or interests, you can enjoy the splendor of our national parks from anywhere.These opportunities are definitely a benefit of the digital revolution. And while remote experiences don’t replace actually being by a river, on a trail, or on a tour, technology can certainly open our national parks to everyone, anywhere.

You may be surprised by some of the innovative ways parks and NPS programs use technology. From wildlife webcams to junior ranger programs to participation in the Big Backyard Birdcount, we’re excited about all the ways you can #FindYourPark from anywhere.

We invite you to join us this year as we explore ways you can enjoy national parks and the wonders within them by swiping your touch screen or tapping with your stylus. Consider it your virtual door to parks. We’re calling this journey #18in18. Every few weeks, we’ll provide more information about one of the activities below on social media, but you can refer to this list throughout the year.

Explore the links and virtually #FindYourPark.

  1. Plan a trip! Many of us have snow on the ground, and the long nights of January force us indoors earlier. This is the perfect time to look forward to the idyllic days of summer. Whether you want to explore urban areas or tromp through wide open spaces, the National Park Service’s Trip Ideas is the best place to get started. This site is also perfect if you want to spend a little time “window tripping” know, kind of like window shopping.

  2. Great Backyard Bird Count - Since 1998, thousands of people have participated in this citizen science project. If you can't make it to a park the weekend of Feb. 16 - Feb 19, then turn your backyard or nearby open space into a birdwatching arena. Simply tally the birds you see for at least 15 minutes one of these days. Sign up.

  3. Visitor Spending Effects - On April 25, 2018, we announced that visitors to national parks added $35.8 billion to the US economy in 2017. Use this tool to explore how much national park visitors added to your local economy. You can also explore visitor spending, jobs, and other economic factors in any national park.

  4. Junior Explorers - All summer long, kids who are out of school can have some fun learning all about parks and some of the cool things in them. Whether you're into dinosaurs, scuba diving, or astronomy, there's a Junior Explorer book for you, and you can complete the activities anywhere.

  5. Plant a pollinator garden - National Pollinator Week is June 18-24, 2018. We can help pollinators along migration corridors by planting pollinator gardens in our backyards. Use the link above to join the Million Pollinator Garden Challenges and find a planting guide for your area. Bees, butterflies, birds, and bats will appreciate your green thumb!

  6. Channel Islands National Park Live Dive - What's it like under the sea at Channel Islands National Park? Check out highlights from the Channel Islands Live Dive archive! Watching a live dive is just one way to experience national parks...anywhere!

  7. Teacher resources - In August and September, teachers and students head back to school. The National Park Service offers many tools like lesson plans, distance learning, materials for loan, and field trips to help students (or anyone!) learn about the history and nature of our national parks from anywhere, anytime.
  8. Bear Cam at Katmai National Park - In August, you can still see the bears out swimming and fishing before they hibernate for the winter.
  9. Denali National Park puppy cams - So. Much. Cuteness. Starting in August and into late September, productivity plummets as people watch the puppies play or nap. But if you missed them, check out the “Puppy Paws” series to get your puppy fix.
  10. Grand Canyon distance learning - Learn from where you are! Grand Canyon offers programs for classrooms, senior centers, and adult learning institutions.
  11. Sound gallery - #TuesdayThought: Sounds matter. Natural sounds are part of a web of resources vital to park ecosystems. From a babbling brook to a thundering waterfall to yips of a coyote pack, such sounds compose immersive experiences important for wildlife, wilderness, visitors, and cultural-historic events. Listen to sounds from across the country.
  12. Outside Science (inside parks) - An excellent video series of students doing science in parks.

  13. iNaturalist - Find a park and learn about the plants and animals there.

  14. Virtual tours of parks - Take a tour of several national parks, including Wupatki National Monument in Arizona.

  15. Enjoy an audio postcard from Yellowstone National Park - Recordings of sounds in the park.

  16. Social Media Platforms - Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

  17. Check the real-time air quality in numerous parks - Aircams in parks take photo every 15 minutes.

  18. See the story of marine invasive species at Great Lakes national parks. - Storymap of marine invasive species.

Check back often to learn more about these ways to virtually enjoy your national parks. We’ll update the list throughout the year.

Last updated: September 25, 2018