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You Can Now Take a Virtual Hike Around Canada’s Polar Desert

Quttinirpaaq National Park just became the northernmost spot on Google Streetview.

Quttinirpaaq National Park in Nunavut, Canada, is about 500 miles south of the North Pole. If you want to go there, you have to get to Nunavut’s capital, fly to the small island town of Resolute, and then book a four-hour charter flight to the park on a utility aircraft.

Once you get there, it’s just you and whatever you’ve packed. There are no facilities or human communities. According to the CBC, only about 50 people visit each year. The rest is glaciers, rocks, and lemmings.

If that sounds like your thing, but you don’t want to make the journey, you’re in luck: Quttinirpaaq National Park is now on Google Street View.

Parks Canada has been collaborating with Google Streetview since 2013, and has brought a bunch of other Canadian spots to the site, including the Fortress of Louisbourg (an 18th-century French fortress) and Pingo Canadian Landmark (home to a bunch of pingos).

Quttinirpaaq National Park is now the northernmost place on the platform. To get it online, the park’s manager Emma Upton and a colleague hiked in the park for five days with a 360-degree recording backpack. (The colleague, who wears the backpack in most of the photos and videos, is never named; in certain sections of the Streetview, he seems to be doggedly following his boss, who remains perpetually a few hundred meters ahead.)

Wait up! There's no one else here!
Wait up! There’s no one else here! Google Street View

The park is 14,585 square miles, and most people who venture out there spend over a week hiking. But Upton told the CBC that they tried to get a good cross-section of what’s on offer, including its “phenomenal geology” and the possibility of “getting intimate with a massive glacial ice cap.”

You can explore the landscape yourself here. As Upton points out, you won’t get to hear the glaciers settle, smell the cold air, or feel the vast openness of the wild, but you also won’t have to carry the backpack.

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