Palo Alto Weekly

Cover Story - April 20, 2012

Audio tours around the Bay Area and beyond

Opportunities abound to find trails and learn little-known facts about history and nature

Surf the Web and thousands of audio-tour offerings pop up, from trips to Europe to tours of backcountry trails. Most of the links below lead to tours of local places and are free and downloadable to smartphones.

An Unnatural History of Golden Gate Park Thought-provoking, episodic tours of how the park has changed over time and its various elements today. www.anunnaturalhistory.net

California State Parks Foundation Offers tours of a different state park each month, plus walkable-neighborhoods tours (to promote transit-oriented development) and tours of major museums, such as Monterey Bay Aquarium and college campuses. www.ca.gov/Connect/Multimedia/podcasts.html

Environmental Volunteers Audio tour of Palo Alto Baylands Preserve takes users on a hike through the history and ecology of the wetlands, including the duck pond. Paced for families and students, with photographs and an interactive map. Downloadable application from the website or from iTunes. www.evols.org/

EveryTrail Palo Alto-based travel website offers thousands of downloadable guides and opportunities for users to upload their own trips, with maps, photos and video. Many local and Bay Area trails and trips are described on the site. www.everytrail.com/

Midpeninsula Regional Open Space District The district offers two audio tours: Daniels Nature Center and Skyline Ridge Open Space Preserve, guided by open-space personnel and docents. Photographs, soundscapes and tales about animals, plants and people who have populated the area. www.openspace.org/naturetours/

National Park Service Audio tours of many of America's favorite national parks are available though the web pages of individual parks. Sites include the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park and the Badlands in South Dakota. www.nps.gov

Rise These podcast/tours, still in the works, emphasize how climate change is affecting the San Francisco Bay. Taken from radio programs, they range from Bay Splendor to the San Joaquin Delta and its levees. www.searise.org/take-a-tour

Stanford University Science-Art-Nature Two student-produced, self-guided audio tours of plants, animals and science on the Stanford campus discuss Green Library bats, endangered-salamander tunnels, acorn woodpeckers and global warming. Introduction by Donald Kennedy and Paul Ehrlich. www.stanford.edu/group/stanfordbirds/Sci_Art_Nat_Walk_Podcast.html Campus tours of everything from Memorial Church to the Law School are available at http://itunes.apple.com/us/itunes-u/stanford-campus-tour/id384238809 The Cantor Arts Center series Speaking About Art is available at http://museum.stanford.edu/explore/speakingaboutart.html

Your Wetlands A project of San Francisco Bay Joint Venture, these tours focus on wetland habitats around the bay, from Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge to Muir Beach. www.yourwetlands.org/audio-tours.php

— Sue Dremann

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