6 Tips to Make the Most of Your First National Park Trip

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Our national parks are stunningly beautiful. From sweeping mountain vistas to thick forests teeming with interesting wildlife to still lakes with deep cooling waters and coral reefs that are a joy to explore, there is so much to do and see in any one of this nation’s National Parks. So, whether you’re traveling in California or visiting Texas, you should definitely take the time to explore as many of our national parks as you can.

If you’ve never visited a national park before, & you’re wondering how to ensure you make the most of your first trip to one, here are some tips that will help to ensure you have a safe and amazing time:

1. Visit at the right time

When planning a national park trip it’s really important that you choose the optimum time for the park you’re visiting and the activities you want to do, if you want to have the best possible time. For example, visiting Death Valley in the height of summer is probably going to get pretty uncomfortable, but Denali National Park is likely to be much more hospitable at that time if you plan to camp and hike rather than ski. Think carefully about what you want to get from your trip and choose the right season accordingly.

2. Travel light (but get it right)

The last thing you want to be doing on a trip to your chosen national park is carting around a hugely heavy pack, but at the same time, you don’t want to leave yourself without all of the necessary equipment to stay safe and comfortable. So, you’re going to want to ensure you get help finding a good tent if you’ll be camping, ensure that you pack a first aid kit, torches, and matches, plenty of food, and clothing that’s right for the season, if you’re unsure about any of this stuff, speak to a national park ranger or maybe a friend who has lots of experience in the area you are traveling to, and ensure you get it right. If in doubt, it’s always better to pack a little heavier than it is to be left without a vital piece of kit.

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3. Consider a national park lodge

If camping isn’t your thing, and you want to have a few more creature comforts, book a national park lodge in your location, these are far better than booking into nearby hotels because they’re right in the thick of the national parks, so you can step out of your doorway and instantly be greeted by stunning mountain views, pretty lakes, or passing wildlife.

4. Plan your itinerary

When you’re traveling in the national parks of the USA, it’s good to be a bit spontaneous because you might come across a rock that’s perfect for climbing or a lake that’s begging to be swum in at any moment, but it’s also glad to have at least a loose itinerary in place. Doing so will ensure that, should you get into difficulty and get lost, someone will be looking for you (tell at least one person your itinerary), & it’ll also ensure that you can do the things you want to, whether that be seeing the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone or completing the horseshoe lake trail in Denali National Park. 

5. Bring walking boots and a bike

Many of the national parks will not be very accessible by cars. Once you get there, you’ll need to abandon your vehicle and find different ways of getting around. So, that means you’ll either be on your feet a lot, in which case a good set of walking boots are vital or you may be able to get around more effectively on a bike. Ched the transport links before you show up so you can prepare for every eventuality.

6. Leave the place as you found it

If you want to keep enjoying national parks in all their glory for years to come, then it’s really important that you leave the place as you found it. Pack your trash and carry it with you, ensure that any fires you light are properly contained and covered once you are done, and leave everything as close to how it was as you found it when you can, that way you, and everyone else can continue to enjoy the beauty of nature on your doorstep.

Our national parks are a true treasure, so be sure to take in as much of them as you can! Stay safe and have fun.