Geoheritage Via Google Street View

Activity Source: 

 Adapted with permission by Google.

Google’s Street View is a rich resource for exploring geoheritage, since it visually transports us to many impressive sites across the country and around the world. Street View allows you to investigate a site, even one you don’t know well, which can lead to important insights. Of course, the real power and fun of Street View is that it allows you to explore by moving your visual perspective around the image.


  • Computer with internet access


  1. Look at the image of a Street View page shown here. What do you notice? What catches your eye might be aesthetic, scientific, or cultural. For example, here you might notice the colors of the canyon walls. While those are mainly earth tones of brown, orange, and gray, they are also streaked with green.
  2. The image on this page is from the “Bright Angel Trail” image on Street View. You can locate it by browsing the Street View gallery at This image is from the “Grand Canyon” collection. You can go directly to the “Grand Canyon” collection at
  3. Using Street View, you can explore the Bright Angel Trail of the Grand Canyon. Noticing things like color, texture, and shape can lead to questions, especially when you take a scientific perspective. For example, why do some places in the canyon have plants, while others don’t? What other questions might you ask?
  4. Street View can be a great tool to conduct investigations to address your questions. In Street View, click on the image to move your view and gather more information about elements of the site. Look closely at the canyon wall nearest to you, then move along the trail to look at other surfaces. How does the casual idea of noticing take on a more focused purpose when observations and data can be collected via Street View?
  5. Now draw conclusions from evidence. Organize your ideas to facilitate analysis by making a table with three columns; Evidence, Conclusion, Reasoning. As you consider the evidence for your conclusions, pay attention to what you observe, versus what you can infer. For example, what can you observe about features such as slope, types of plants, and surface characteristics (e.g., broken rubble versus a solid layer)? What can you infer about attributes that you are unable to observe directly using the image, such as amount of moisture and sunlight?













 6. Consider the ideas you have about the place shown in Street View. Write several ideas in the Conclusions column. Then in the Evidence column, describe your observations and other information related to those ideas. Then in the Reasoning column, tell how you used the evidence to support the conclusion.
 7. Extend your ideas about this location by comparing it with others. Visit additional locations, such as national parks and historic sites, using Street View (e.g., How is the Grand Canyon different from or the same as other sites that can be seen in Street View?
 8. Many of the sites in Street View are there because of their natural splendor, their connection to people, and for other reasons that relate to geoheritage, such as a location’s aesthetic, artistic, cultural, ecological, recreational, scientific, economic, or educational value. Use Street View to explore a geoheritage location of your own choosing. Why do we celebrate and conserve such places? How can scenes from Street View help you communicate your ideas about geoheritage    resources?