(USA TODAY) First there was Street View, and now there's "river" view.
Google Maps has launched a new "river view" of 286 miles of the Colorado River, including stunning views of the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, as seen from aboard a raft.
The project was launched in partnership with American Rivers, a Washington D.C.-based environmental group. This marks the first time Google Maps has used its street view technology on a major whitewater river in the USA.
"Making Street View imagery available of the Colorado River is a tremendous opportunity for us to drive interest for this historical and natural landmark," said Google's Karin Tuxen-Bettman. "We hope this inspires viewers to take an active interest in preserving it."
The 1,450-mile Colorado River, which passes through seven states, is the main river of the Southwest.
"We are excited to work with Google Maps to highlight the Grand Canyon, one of our country's crown jewels," said Chris Williams, senior vice president for conservation at American Rivers.
American Rivers staff joined Google Maps on an eight-day rafting trip through the Grand Canyon last August to take photos of the river. The Street View camera, on a special mount built for the raft, captured a full 360-degree photo sphere every few seconds.
Last year, American Rivers named the Colorado River the "most endangered" river in the nation, because of what the group said was the threat of outdated water management, over-allocation of its water and persistent drought.
Thirty-six million people from Denver to Los Angeles drink Colorado River water. The river irrigates nearly 4 million acres of land, which grow 15% of the nation's crops, according to American Rivers.
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