The advent of Google Earth provided Internet users with a front-row seat to all corners of the globe. It was, quite literally, like having a map of the entire world at your fingertips no matter where you were. With it, you could zoom in on any place you wanted at the click of a button. Well, almost any place…
As it turns out, no matter how comprehensive the program seems, there are a few places that Google Earth doesn’t want you to see. It simply won’t show such locations to the user. These 20 examples beg the question: just what is Google hiding?
1. Decommissioned NATO base: This all looks pretty normal at first glance, right? But when you learn what you’re seeing is a different plot of land superimposed directly on top of the actual NATO facility in Oeiras, Portugal, you can’t help but wonder what shady dealings go on in there.
2. Baker Lake: Found in Nunavut, Canada, this lake has long been rumored to contain extraterrestrials! So why has Google Earth placed a black strip over the entire thing? Many people claim it’s a government cover-up.
3. Elmira Correctional Facility: Situated in Elmira, New York, it’s not immediately apparent why Google Earth wouldn’t want anyone to see the facility. Perhaps the program doesn’t want outsiders to find possible escape routes…
4. The Dutch Royal Palace: Though Google Earth users have the ability to see everything surrounding the Royal Palace—even the tiny cars parked outside—they’re unable to look at the actual palace itself. Fishy…
5. Colonel Sanders (everywhere): Seeing the KFC mascot’s face on a road trip might be a sign you’re in for some finger-lickin’ good food… that is, unless you’re using Google Earth. The Colonel’s face is mysteriously always blurred out. Did the mapping system recognize him as a real person?
6. Cornell Hydroelectric Power Plant: When Cornell added this incredibly high-tech and eco-friendly facility in Ithaca, New York, there was much excitement surrounding it. Yet, anyone who tries to catch a glimpse of the site from Google Earth is met with this messy blur.
7. Parque Tantauco: For all its beauty, why wouldn’t Google Earth want you to be able to see this Chilean national park? Though it’s privately owned, that doesn’t explain why everything is blurred, no matter how much you try to zoom in.
8. Szazhalombatta Oil Refinery: While the oil industry can be secretive, there’s no immediate reason the government would need to blur all the buildings at this Hungarian refinery. Or is there…?
9. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca: Why would Google Earth want to conceal a race track? There’s no apparent explanation for censoring this Monterey County, California, spot. Anyone trying to watch the races that happen there via the website will have no luck, either.
10. United States Air Force Ramstein Air Force Base: This U.S. Air Force base in Germany was once considered a potential target during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It’s not hard to figure out why the government wouldn’t want it visible on Google’s systems even now.
11. Mobil Oil Corporation buildings: You can imagine there are all sorts of reasons the military would want to blur certain buildings on Google Earth—but it’s a little bit suspicious when an oil and gas giant tries to conceal its Buffalo, New York, location from public view.
12. Minami Torishima Airport: Though you can’t see it on Google Earth, this single-runway airport was built to serve the Japanese Maritime Defense Force. At that, one could only assume they must be hiding some secrets there, right?
13. Babylon: It’s pretty easy to conceal (or blur) large portions of oil facilities and military-related areas, but an entire city? Well, that’s exactly what’s happened with Babylon, Iraq.
14. Volkel Air Base: Many military locations pixelate their operations on Google Earth if they want to keep top-secret information from prying eyes. But this military base in the Netherlands was suspiciously blurred out when WikiLeaks published a cable claiming it housed nuclear warheads. Convenient, eh?
15. Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant: Some users see a warning in place of facility details when they search for this Hudson River nuclear power plant. You can bet that there’s good reason why you can’t see the facility on Google Earth.
16. Reims-Champagne Air Base: Anyone attempting to do a little research on the government-owned Reims Air Base in Bétheny, France—which has been permanently shuttered—shouldn’t be too surprised when their search comes back with such pixelated results as this…
17. North Korea: When the supreme leader of your country seemingly wants to cut off all ties to the outside world (cough, Kim Jong-Un, cough), you’d better believe it won’t be showing up on any Google Earth searches.
18. Michael Aaf Building: What has long been a chemical weapons test site in Dugway, Utah, has been whited out since the introduction of Google Earth. You’d have to assume it could only be for security purposes…
19. HAARP Site: This military site in Alaska—known as a “High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program”—has long been shrouded in mystery. For that reason, conspiracy theorists felt vindicated when Google Earth searches showed it was mysteriously blurred.
20. Keowee Dam: Noted for helping run a major East Coast power utility out of South Carolina, there’s really nothing else that would make seeing this place off-limits. Alas, a simple search yields no good results.
There are so many places Google Earth doesn’t want you to see. Some of these locations have good reasons for being shrouded in mystery, while others are just suspicious!
Share these off-limits Google Earth searches with your friends below!