Help Using the Virtual Guidebooks

This site uses Macromedia Flash technology and scripts from Garden Gnome Software to create interactive 360 degree images known as VR panoramas.
If you see a picture of Pohoiki Bay in Hawaii here, all is well. If not, you may need to intall Flash.

Navigating in a Panorama

To look around in a panorama, simply put the cursor over the image, hold the mouse button down, and drag in the direction you want to look. The panorama will scroll continuously until you release the mouse button. Practice with the Morro Bay pano above.

The further you move the cursor from its starting point (keeping the mouse button down) the faster the image will scroll. To stop panning just release the mouse button.

You can also use the buttons on the navigation bar below the panorama to look up, down, left, or right.

To zoom in, press the Shift key.
To zoom out, press the Control key.

How The Virtual Guidebooks Site Is Organized

There are currently 26 states (states, provinces, territories) covered by this site (California counts as three, a couple of others are combined). They are shown on the home page map and listed in the Table of Contents.

These states are in turn divided into guidebooks (regions). There are currently 72 Virtual Guidebooks, each covering an easily recognized area, such as you might choose for a vacation destination - the Olympic Peninsula, the island of Maui, Yosemite National Park, etc. The smallest guidebooks have only a dozen or so panoramas, the largest (Central California) has over a thousand.

Each guidebook is divided into localities - this is where the panorama thumbnails are shown. A locality contains up to ten VR panoramas, either of the same geographic place or grouped closely together. There are currently 1950 localities.

western North America map

Wherever you are in the Virtual Guidebooks hierarchy of states, guidebooks and localities, you can move up by clicking the navigation buttons at the top right of the page. To move down in the hierarchy, select from the list in the main part of the window.

state-guidebook-locality hierarchy

The hierarchy of buttons and the thumbnail map on the navigation bar always keep you geographically oriented. Notice that as you browse through the states or guidebooks the red highlight on the map moves around.

These thumbnail maps are also clickable - you can jump directly to another state by clicking (carefully) on the little map.

state-guidebook-locality hierarchy

state-guidebook-locality hierarchy

Try using the Previous and Next links. They will cycle you through all state and guidebook pages on the site, or all the localities within a single guidebook. It is the best way to be sure you have seen everything in your area of interest.


At all levels items tend to be organized from northwest to southeast by tiers (top left to bottom right on a map).

The click-order of states runs from Alaska through Canada, the Pacific Northwest, the Rocky Mountain states, California, the Great Basin and Southwest, the 100th Meridian states, Mexico, then Hawaii and Pacific islands.

The top level pages have a Thematic button for the thematic pages, listing panoramas with a similar theme: lighthouses, waterfalls, etc.


If you would like to see a comprehensive list of all the guidebooks and localities, just click the Geographic button on one of the main pages. This gives a text listing of the states and guidebooks. Another, much longer, list breaks it down to localities. The total number of panoramas in each section is shown on these lists.

All pages have a Prints button to get you to the section listing fine art panoramic prints for sale. These almost constitute a separate web site, a gallery of panoramic landscape photographs. You may enjoy scrolling through the "unwrapped" panoramas as an alternative to the interactive versions.


There are also Books and Posters buttons for lists of recommended books, maps, and movies and inexpensive posters and prints from AllPosters and The book section includes collections of books arranged by geographic area, and special lists on topics such as maps and atlases, natural history guides, and western authors.

When you click on the Books or Posters buttons it should take you to the geographically relevant section - if you are on a page in Yellowstone National Park, for example, you will be taken to Books about Wyoming or Prints of the Rocky Mountains states.

Contact Don Bain:

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Basin and Range
by John McPhee