This year marks the 50th anniversary of the National Trail System, which oversees more than 50,000 miles of trails across the U.S., and makes sure historic sites like the Pacific Crest Trail are around for years to come.
One of the most magical parts of traipsing around the wilderness is the chance to see local fauna: catching a glimpse of a hawk circling a field, floating by a beaver dam on your kayak, or spotting a baby deer in your hometown park.
You can use Google Images to learn more about the wildlife you encounter while hiking: to find out if what you just saw was *really* a coyote, or if that spider whose web you demolished is as scary as it looks. Over the past year, Google image searches for animals have approximately doubled.
We took a look at Google Images trends to find some of the most uniquely searched animals (and bugs!) in each U.S. state. Take a look to find out where you should travel to spy an orca whale, and where to *avoid* if you never want to see a leopard shark in real life.
For those of you planning last-minute nature exploration this summer, we’ve also identified some of the top spots in the U.S. to get your eyes on some wild creatures.
Animal aficionados won’t be surprised that more people are searching for Orcas in Washington, or gila monsters in Arizona. But porcupines in Nebraska, or wolverines in Minnesota? Perhaps not as obvious.
If bugs are your bag, image searches indicate you’re likely to see a butterfly in Hawaii, or black widows (eep) in Colorado. If you’re visiting Iowa, keep your eyes peeled for the elegant, yet still sort of creepy, praying mantis. Check out the complete lists of uniquely searched animals and bugs in each U.S. state.
So where can you go to explore the great outdoors, and maybe catch a glimpse of lions, tigers and bears (oh my)? The top ten trending hikes on Google Maps include the world-famous Appalachian trail, the longest hiking-only trail in America, and the scenic Monument Valley desert, known for its epic rock buttes, plus several other trails across the country.
If you’re willing to spend the night in nature, the top ten trending campgrounds include Mackinaw Mill Creek in Michigan, which lets you set up camp on the shores of one of the Great Lakes. South Carlsbad State Beach in Southern California is set on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, a short distance from water sports, and maybe some sea life. Just keep an eye out for leopard sharks ;).
Pro tip: Wondering what type of wildflowers you’re seeing on the trail, or if that green bush you hiked through was poison oak? Use Google Lens to help you identify local plant life (or wildlife, if you can catch it standing still … ). Just open the Lens app, point your camera at the plant and Lens will help you identify what you’re looking at.
Now that you're fully informed on how Google can help you learn more about the wildlife around you, get out there and see it for yourself!