Summer’s here. Well, for some of us but I digress. It’s here or will be soon and that means it’s time to pack up the family station wagon and head out on the road! Oh, wait, we aren’t in a National Lampoons movie so maybe we are packing up the family SUV and hitting the road with fewer bumps along the way with these top tips for a National Park Trip.
Many of us will be heading to the great outdoors. We will take the kids to show them the wonder that is nature. Whether they like it or not.
But how can you make sure you don’t end up like the Griswolds? Here are a few tips to make sure your trip to a National Park goes off without a hitch!
- Once you’ve decided which park you want to see, head over to their website and read through the Plan Your Visit section. It is full of great information!
- Be sure to find out how much the entrance fee is. It will vary by park. If you plan to visit a lot of parks throughout the year consider grabbing an annual pass.
- Start googling. Many people have already been to these parks and many have written about their experiences.
- Decide what your must-sees are. Some parks are huge and depending on how much time you have at each one, you may not be able to see everything on your first visit.
- Determine what you want to do:
- Are you going to camp? Head to recreation.gov and make a reservation!
- What about hiking? What level is everyone at in your group? Check out the trails and ratings ahead of time. You don’t want to head out for an easy 1-mile walk and realize you are on a six-mile strenuous loop!
- If you are taking your pet, what can they do? Most National Parks only allow doggos on paved areas so make sure you check that before lil Fido comes along.
- What gear will you need for camping or hiking?
- Once you arrive:
- Head to the visitors center.
- Grab your maps and check on any info on park conditions. Some roads or trails may be closed for various reasons!
- Watch for wild animals and keep your distance. Check the park and campground for tips on the area’s local wildlife. And never approach them! Admire from afar and get a good telephoto lens for your camera
- Respect the land. Do not go off-trail. Pack out what you pack in. Take only pictures and leave only footprints.
- Be respectful of other visitors as well. Many parks are crowded in the summer. It may be hard to find a spot to park at the main attractions. If you can’t stop safely to take a photo, keep moving! You can circle back later and see if there’s a spot to park.
- Always have extra water and snacks. You never know how the conditions may affect you. You don’t want to become dehydrated or stuck somewhere for longer than anticipated.
- Lastly… HAVE FUN!