Photo Finding in Google Earth – Just for Fun

GuiWeather lightning data in Google Earth

I do a bit of mountain biking now and then, and happened to notice an article on the New York Times today. The article is called “Where Mountain Bikers Carved Their Dream Terrain” and is about a remote place in western Colorado near a town called Fruita, Colorado. I decided I would like to find this place in Google Earth. There were some nice photos in the article, so I thought I would try finding an exact spot. I noticed the name of a trail in one photo was “Zippety Trail”. My first thought was to try Garmin’s site which lets people upload GPS tracks of their favorite outdoor activities. A simple search for “Zippety” and I got four results (like this one) – all listed as being near Fuita. I loaded up this trail in Google Earth (Motionbased supports GE for all tracks). It didn’t take me long to find the place on the trail where the photo was taken in the satellite photos. This placemark tries to duplicate the same viewing angle as in the camera (as seen in the screenshot).

One thing that really helped me find the location is that Google just recently updated the terrain resolution for the western US (see coverage area) and this area now has 10 meter resolution data. Another way I found the location was by simply searching in Google Earth for “Zippety Trail”. This returned a “Web result” for “Zippety Trailhead” that also showed me the location.

For a really cool example of photos matched to places in Google Earth, check out this article about a book called “Earth From Above” and the cool collection of placemarks people created trying to duplicate each view for 500 of the beautiful photos from the book in GE. The photos were so beautiful in this book, I just had to buy it. It’s my favorite coffee table book.
On a related note: check out Googler John Gardner’s post about a Google mountain biking team’s plan for a race.

About Frank Taylor

Frank Taylor started the Google Earth Blog in July, 2005 shortly after Google Earth was first released. He has worked with 3D computer graphics and VR for many years and was very impressed with this exciting product. Frank completed a 5.5 year circumnavigation of the earth by sailboat in June 2015 which you can read about at Tahina Expedition, and is a licensed pilot, backpacker, diver, and photographer.


  1. Also, note when over Colorado, the the Maps/Earth user cntributed content search result for ‘Zippety’ asks “did you mean Zippity?” If you click on yes, you’ll get the path of the trail too, thanks to data attributed to

  2. tofurkey says:

    Check out for some awesome videos of many rides around Fruita, including the trail in the picture. Probably the best mountain bike site for video captures of rides.

  3. I also did this more than a year ago with a trip to Las Vegas:
    (post is in French…)

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