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Google Maps is launching a ton of updates for navigating national parks

Published Apr 11th, 2023 5:48PM EDT
Google Maps reviews
Image: Google

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Google is challenging AllTrails with its latest updates to Google Maps.

In a blog post, the company announced it is bringing a number of updates to Google Maps on both iOS and Android to make it easier for users to discover and navigate national parks in the United States.

The first update is to make it easier to understand the top-rated things to do at a national park. Soon, Google Maps will show you the top “attractions, campgrounds, visitor centers, and trailheads.”

Say you’re interested in visiting Yellowstone National Park. Search for the park and you’ll see photo highlights for key attractions, like Old Faithful. Tap on any of the photos to get even more details — like videos and reviews — from people who have been there before, so you can decide whether to add it to your itinerary and plan a trip that rocks.

While Google Maps has been relatively okay to navigate to the trailhead, a lot of that data has been missing. And, even if the trailhead is there, you haven’t been able to actually see the layout of the trail itself. Google is tackling that too now, saying that “when you search for a trail, we’ll highlight its entire route on the map, instead of just a pin, so you can easily identify where it starts and ends and what the route looks like.”

You’ll see reviews and photos from the Google Maps community — like Colorado-based Local Guide Jeremy, a published nature photographer who has visited more than 30 US national parks! And we’ll surface helpful details from the Maps community like what type of trail it is, its difficulty, and whether it’s better for running, walking, or cycling.

The company is also adding park entrances to its map as well as walking and cycling directions to trailheads. You may also download an offline map when you’re heading into a national park (I sure do), and Google is looking to make that easier as well. The company says that later this month, it will be adding a Download button to the park’s Google Maps listing so it’s easier to download an offline map of the exact area you need it for.

All of these updates, according to Google, are coming over the course of this month, so we should have all of these features by the start of May. That’s perfect timing, as the outdoor season will be starting to ramp up around the country. It also shows a glaring hole that will exist when comparing Apple Maps to Google Maps now. Maybe Apple can partner with AllTrails to boost their national park data.

The announcement comes on the same day that Google Bard, the company’s competitor to ChatGPT, got its first major update.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.