how to visit national parks

For example, parking on a fee-free day at Zion National Park could be headache-inducing — the main parking areas fill up by late morning. Explore Your Parks Park Locator, Alphabet. This guide will help you discover where to go, what to do, and how to make sure you have a fantastic, safe, and unforgettable adventure. There are as many ways to celebrate the National Park Service’s centennial as there are parks to explore (over 400). Sign up to receive the latest NPF news, information on how you can support our national treasures, and travel ideas for your next trip to the parks. And, finally, I visited Petrified Forest National Park in the same RV. A packing list Park entrance fees; And more Visit our keyboard shortcuts docs for details Duration: 1 minute, 17 seconds. Manassas national battlefield park is one of many lesser-known parks that are worth a visit. FindYourPark.com shares details on parks across the country and activities offered at each of them. The “Things to Do” section (found under the “Plan Your Visit” tab on the park’s navigation bar) can be helpful in scoping out the options at your park of choice. Tax identification number: 52-1086761. I've never vacationed at a national park. Don’t confuse a lack of visitors with a lack of merit. Invasive species in our national parks are no laughing matter. What planning tips would you add to this guide? Have you already found your park? Don't just plan to visit one of Utah's surreal national parks. Individual parks may have rules about cleaning different types of gear and equipment depending on which parts of the park you’ll be visiting and the activities in which you’ll partake. You can also visit during the annual fee-free days – just be prepared to be joined by many other park lovers, as these are popular days to visit. We guarantee: you’ll be hooked after your first adventure. Consider if you’re comfortable camping, or if you’d rather stay in an RV, or look into park lodges. Because 12 of the USA’s National Parks are in Alaska, Hawaii and other U.S. territories which make a smooth road trip a bit difficult, Olson decided to exclude them for the purposes of this route. Overnight trips add another layer of research. Where do I start? This window varies from park to park so again, be sure your research covers this too. The Optimal U.S. National Parks Centennial Road Trip map was designed to commemorate the 100 th birthday of the National Park Service, which was in August of … More than 250 National Park Service units have been featured in travel-style articles over the years. In fact, because they’re not as easy to drive to for most of us, they tend to be less crowded and some include virtually untouched wilderness. The Discover Our Shared Heritage Travel Itinerary Series highlights geographic regions and important themes in American history. Detail from our America National Parks map. Manzanita Lake Fee Booth at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Ready to explore the National Parks of the United States? Overview of national park entrances and their closest gateway towns. Visiting a historic home won’t necessitate the same level of equipment as a backcountry hiking trip, though both require forethought. Once you’ve returned victorious, be sure to tell a friend – better yet, take a friend! Check the park’s website for any tips, then consider your itinerary. Bring the binoculars! Some do require a small entrance fee, used to help maintain the park, so be sure to know if you’ll have an entrance fee. From picking the best time to go to becoming buddies with the park rangers, here is the ultimate guide to visiting national parks. The time of year to go visit the national parks depends on a few things. The National Park System oversees 62 parks, so there are plenty of places to explore beyond the Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, and Yosemite. Explore national parks with digital tours, ranger programs, educational opportunities, and more. I'll have 2 teenagers and one other adult. East Coast and Smokies Dogs are allowed at parts of Lake Mead National Recreation Area. National Park Road Trip Itineraries National Parks are natural treasures, and a road trip to and through them gives us all access to the majesty. I know it would be a huge planning experience and I would appreciate any advice from others who have done it. You can also download our collection of free Owner’s Guides that highlight road trip itineraries, lesser-known sites, places to stay, and so much more. I have spent the last eight years taking care of my wife who suffers from Alzheimer’s and the time I can dedicate to this effort is thus more limited than would be typical. Camping under the stars at Joshua Tree National Park. Take a moment to move to the side and let them pass — it’s the polite thing to do! This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions. Parks to visit: 8 Duration of journey: Month of August, 2017 (yep, we’re planning way ahead). Join our community. National parks are not just for summertime. Know what they are and commit them to memory. Plan ahead and scope the many resources and tips provided by the parks (start by looking at the “Directions & Transportation” section under the “Plan Your Visit” tab on the park’s navigation bar). nationalparks.org. When the pandemic struck earlier this year and dashed my travel plans for Germany and Austria, I instead planned a different adventure: Acadia National Park in Maine. And now that you’ve conquered the steps, you can be that person. Find a hotel or use an online lodging service to find a homestay near the park — you’ll return to civilization for the night but be close enough to jump right back into your park adventure after a hearty breakfast in the morning. Method: Driving to Alaska with Oscar the Outback, our own vehicle. National parks are priceless and exquisite, so treat them with the respect they deserve. By submitting my email, I agree to receive correspondence from the National Park Foundation. From lush green valleys and sandstone formations in every shade of orange to deep canyons and expansive panoramas stretching as far as the eye can see, Utah’s National Parks will take your breath away, transport you to another planet, and inspire your inner sense of adventure all in one fell swoop. The United States national park system offers so much diversity—climates range from tropical to subarctic, and from arid deserts to lush rainforests—that in every month of the year you can find a park worth visiting. Don’t know where to begin? Check the park’s website for more information (look for the “Fees & Passes” sub-section of “Basic Information” under the “Plan Your Visit” tab on the park’s navigation bar). January: Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho Try to reserve a spot online, ahead of time, especially at popular parks, which often see spaces booked months in advance. And others may be open, but with limited opportunities depending on the season. By doing so, you’ll not only prove yourself to be a great steward of these national treasures, but you’ll also help preserve them so that future generations can continue to enjoy them as we do now. If alternative transportation isn’t available, consider adjusting your schedule to get into the park earlier or visiting during the shoulder season (read: not peak season). Be aware of your surroundings and know if a group is quickly approaching, a fast-paced cyclist is on their way, or maybe a horseback rider is trotting up. New parks are featured each month. Bringing plenty of water for your pup will also be very important, especially if you consider the temperature and length of the journey. How do you begin figuring out how to explore these places? Knowing about parking and access to the park is critical, especially when heading into some of the most-visited sites. The Utah’s parks feature some of the world’s most surreal and magical landscapes. Start by packing these ten essentials. You like being outdoors, learning about fascinating stories throughout history, and absorbing different cultures. Are you ready? Not quite ready to stay overnight in the park? Put America’s national parks back on your travel agenda—just leave out the Motel 6. National Parks remain the single most iconic destination in America not only because of their unrivaled beauty, but because of their transformative powers on those who visit. Three of my first stops were national parks. Tell a friend in person about your favorite parts of the trip – share your tips with them too. The U.S. is fortunate to have an abundance of beautiful parks to explore. I'm looking for a National Park that's closest to where I live; Within a 1 to 2 day drive. So, the next question becomes: where do you start? Camping wherever possible. Visit from anywhere. Be sure to know before you go by checking the park’s page online or giving them a call to know if there are any alerts in effect. Known as the mighty 5 National Parks, Zion NP, Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, Capitol Reef NP, and Bryce Canyon NP are the show-stopping destinations for one of the best road trips in the world! All thoughts welcome. Privacy Notice: The National Park Foundation adheres to the privacy policy found at This optimised road trip will bring you to the 47 other parks in the mainland US states. For example, parking on a fee-free day at Zion National Park could be headache-inducing — the main parking areas fill up by late morning. Planning an Epic National Park Road Trip. THINGS TO CONSIDER FOR A National Parks Road Trip. There are seven principles to ensure you leave no trace, ranging from minimizing campfire impacts to disposing of waste properly, to respecting wildlife. You may have heard the saying, “take nothing but photographs, leave nothing but footprints” – this is especially true during national park visits. A good place to start would be telling us where you live, otherwise it's pretty difficult to say what options are within a 1 to 2 day drive. Within the continental United States (aka Lower 48) there are a total of 50 National Parks — there are 2 in Hawaii, 8 in Alaska, and 2 in the territories, making a total of 62. That includes visiting some of the country's most beautiful natural treasures: our national parks. When you realize there are more than 400 national parks across the country to explore, it can be daunting narrowing down the choices. Get planning and safety tips to make your trip a fun, safe adventure. Plan ahead and scope the many resources and tips provided by the parks (start by looking at the “Directions & Transportation” section under the “Plan Your Visit” tab on the park’s navigation bar). But of those 50 National Parks in the Continental USA, there are another four parks that are not accessible by vehicle due to the fact that they are maritime-based National Parks. Easy Pass at North Cascades National Park. Exploring the ruins at Cumberland Island National Seashore. 6 Steps to Help You Plan an Unforgettable National Park Adventure, Big Bend National Park — National Park Service. Heading to a park? Other National Parks to visit. Putting it all together, there are over 390 sites that the US National Park Service maintains from National Parks, National Monuments, Seashores, Battlefields and more. Stay on the trail and pay attention to signs – they aren’t just suggestions to make sure you don’t get lost. You know that national parks exist, though you haven’t sought them out before – but you’re open to the idea! RANDY OLSON, a computer science and engineering Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University, is a man who likes to design road trips.He has previously organized the ultimate US road trip and the best cross-Canada journey and, this time, Olson created an itinerary that would allow travelers to see every single national park in the 48 contiguous states without wasting any time. Paper and pencil are a must! Whether you’re going on a day hike or exploring the wilderness, it’s imperative to let someone know where you’ll be going and how long you’ll be gone. Wrangell - St Elias National Park and Preserve, check all boats and water equipment for zebra mussels. Buy a National Parks Pass ($80 for one year for a family of four) to save money on entrance fees if you’re visiting multiple parks. I am wondering if there are people who have experience in planning trips and general outdoors tips available for hire on a consulting basis. Utah’s National Parks are simply stunning. Camping is the cheapest option, but campgrounds are often filled to capacity in the summer. The National Park Guide 1. #4 in Best U.S. National Parks The Grand Canyon is so magnificent that even the highest quality photos don't do the park's beauty justice – you just have to see it in person. For those who wish to see some of the famous parks of the Grand Circle in Utah but have less time, consider checking out this version of the road trip. Join the #RecreateResponsibly movement to protect America's treasures while looking out for each other's health and safety. If so, let park rangers in the visitor center know your plans before setting off. Partnership & Cooperation National Heritage Areas. The Club also offers a number of awards to recognize members for their travels to the national parks. Itineraries of the best things to do in the parks. Of the 419 parks managed by the National Park Service, 108 charge regular entrance fees ranging from $5 to $35 that will be waived. More than two-thirds of national parks are free year-round. The National Park Service also offers an excellent trip planning guide that will ensure a fun and safe trip. However, the park has additional options, such as parking in nearby Springdale and taking a free shuttle. It’s often easier to tag-along with somebody who’s done it before and to learn from them. If you’re going with friends, make sure that the group has an emergency contact for each individual. I am 61 years old and in pretty good shape. Thank you! Choose the right time to go. Guides to lodging inside the parks Wildlife-watching field guides. Make sure you’ve done your research ahead of time. Regina, I have wanted to visit and hike in many of our national parks. By doing so, you’ll prevent damage to the surrounding vegetation and erosion. 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