5 National Parks Tips from a Cross-Country Road Tripper
The United States’ National Parks are world-famous for their stunning beauty.
There are at least a few National Parks on most people’s bucket list and some adventurers even have the goal of visiting all of them! We truly believe every human should find their way to a National Park at least once in their lives. As experienced travelers, we love to pass along the tips that we’ve learned along the way and we won’t hide our tips for National Parks! We’ve gathered 5 essential tips for epic adventures in America’s National Parks and Forests. Enjoy!
- Buy a National Parks pass if you’re visiting more than one National Park or Forest! The pass quickly pays for itself at only $80 for the America the Beautiful Pass. (There are different passes with different rates for senior citizens, military, people with permanent disabilities, volunteers, and 4th graders). Breeze into all the National Parks and Forests and gain access to additional deals along the way. This pass will allow you to disperse camp in all National Forests for free, just make sure you’re not in Day Use Only. Nearly every National Park gift shop has perks or a percentage off if you have the pass. Additionally, you can camp for half price in any campground in a National Park or Forest, and some campgrounds nearby will honor that deal, too.
- Get to parks before sunrise and position yourself to see a stunning view. Let me especially recommend the Grand Canyon and Yosemite. It’s a sight that’s beyond breathtaking. If you go to the Grand Canyon, watch for the baby elk hiding in the trees along the road to the park! Park buildings and gift shops don’t open until 9am, but it’s really nice to walk around when it’s calm and not crowded with other tourists.
- If you can, consider getting to a park the evening before and camping nearby so you can spend a full day exploring.
- Do some research ahead of time and plan a loose schedule of places you want to visit in each park. National Parks are full of gems, hidden and not, and it’s a really big disappointment when you find out about cool spots after you’ve already left. Obviously, be aware and realistic of the time you have to spend at a park and plan accordingly.
- Be spontaneous, but safe. I’m the first to admit that off-trailing has lead to some really epic stories and discoveries, but these National Parks are not the place to stray from the paths. The safety signs and rules of each park are not suggestions and should be respected. Think of it this way: we are foreigners to the wilds of nature and the parks have created a structured system so that we may visit and experience a taste of the wild, but keep both nature and us safe. Humans are destructive to nature (i.e. all of the world) and nature can be dangerous for humans. The park system and structure serve as ambassadors.
National Parks Bonus:
For you really bold adventurers, camp at places that are “walk-on only.” They’re cheaper and, as I’ve found, hold more of the community of adventuring folk. I camped all across the country this way and only ran into the issue of a booked campground twice! Once when we were in Big Sur, California the weekend before 4th of July and the first campground we tried was full, but the second still had two spots available. The other time was the next weekend near Santa Barbara, California and we ended up sharing a campsite with parasailing instructors and talking well into the night with our newfound friends.
Written for Nowak Tours by Guest Blogger, Caylie Mindling.