Would you like to have a better experience for you and your family on your travel to a National Park? Read On
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”
― John Muir, Our National Parks
The United States has "61 National Parks" they are protected areas
that cover 52.2 million acreas, more that anyone could ever cover in a lifetime. Amazing Right!
And every year millions of people travel to and visit these parks and never really understand or appreciate what it has taken, what it still takes and most importantly will continue to take for these national treasures to survive.
What each of us does before, after and while visiting any national park can either help or greatly damage these national treasures. The nature, wildlife and natural resources inside the parks.
What you'll get from this blog post to help your travel plans
are great tips on how to get the best experience out of your trip to national parks. As well as do more than just visit by "making a difference" while visiting and after you leave the national park(s).
As a tour guide I have lead tours into national parks so I feel have a bit of an inside track on some great tips for you.
Seeing the amount of people traveling to and visiting the parks with the very minimal park staff and national park volunteers (one of the great ways you can help). I've seen so many visitors who are missing out on some great experiences in the parks. Furthermore, so many visitors have no idea the rules and regulations that all visitors are to abid by while visiting these beautiful parks "so they stay beautiful for the next several million visitors".
A few rules and Regulations:
-Don't Feed Wildlife you're actually hurting them
-No Smoking on trails and on/in natural areas
-Don't leave your car idleling many parks have exhaust fume issues
-Stay at least 100 feet back from wildlife
5 Quick Tips How to Explore and Have Fun with a Conversation Mindset in the U.S. National Parks
Here are the great tips to please enjoy and have a great travel trip to the park(s) of your choice!
Tip 1: A Good Attitude. Be prepared for an amazing and fun time when you travel to the parks, yes I've seen and experienced people that are not in the best mindset for the experience. Millions of other people visit the parks annually so it is what it is and if you're not ready for sharing then bad moods can arise. Don't get caught up in that, stay focuesd on your beautiful suuroundings, look past the crowds and see the beauty. With a good attitude you'll most likely pay more attention to park rules and regulations which is always good for the health and conservation of the parks. Established over 100 years ago the National Parks Conservation Association is a great organization to learn more from and help "make a conservation difference.' You'll have a better chance of noticing the natural beauty of the parks, spot wildlife, enjoy nature.
Tip 2: Find Hidden Locations. I've lead groups into Rocky Mountain National Park the past 2 years (and others before) and even when it's at it's packed peak you can find slower areas in the park. You don't have to be a tour guide to find these gems in the parks, ask a Park Ranger or volunteers. Stop at the visitor center "a must" and gather information for your visit. And actually spreading visitors around the park is overall better for the health and conservation of the park lowering the impact in certain heavily visited areas.
Questions for the Park Rangers and Vistor Center:
1. What areas may not be the "most popular" yet still provide fantastic experiences and memories?
2. Is there any road work or closures to avoid?
3. What time of the day is best to go to certain locations vs others?
4. If you were to visit the park where would you go?
*Also, doing some upfront research will help tremendously to find the hidden gems in the parks.
Plan your visit: Travel Tips(U.S. National Parks service)
Tip 3: Come Off Season or just before or after full season. Best time to see wildlife in the parks! I'm fully aware most of you have limits on the amount of time as well as the time of year you can visit the parks. For those of you in this situation I'd suggest looking at parks closer to you, maybe you can sneak over "off season" on a weekend (not a Holiday weekend please) maybe take one day off and grab a 3 day weekend. Also, with todays transportation you can reach many parks in just a short airplane ride followed by a short tour ride.
Here is a great article by Alamo Car Rental: Best Time to Visit the Top U.S. National Parks Off Season
Tip 4: Come Early/Stay late. Most of the National Parks are open 24hrs/day 7Days/week 365 days/year. While leading tours through different national parks there is one common theme I've noticed. Most visitors to the parks come late morning and don't stay past dinner time. Therefore, getting to the park early as possible and then planning on staying late beyond dinner time will give you a lot better chance of less people during these times. These are the times to move around the park and see the most visited sites while the rest of the day try and stick to those hidden gems we discussed earlier.
And remember when you do leave please Leave No Trace:Center for Outdoor Ethics Talk about a chance to make a difference in the parks. As one of the late leavers you can help by picking up any left behind trash, food stuff (don't feed wildlife) and any other left behind none natural things. Feel good about your little part...I do this every trip into the parks and it helps me feel as if I am making a difference.
Tip 5: Get off the Beaten Path. I've read where over 90% of visitors to the national parks never get more than 100 feet of the road...wow! Therefore, you have a great opportunity to not go to far and get away from the crowds of people. Find a path (please..hiking etiquette US National Parks) and get into the park. Of course there are wildlife out there and you need to be aware on how to handle yourself depending on the wildlife you may encounter and which park(s) have what wildlife. So, getting away from the roads onto the trails is a wonderful way to truly enjoy a national park.
I truly hope this little blog post has helped you have a better time on your national park trip(s)! Yet, I also hope it inspires you and your family to do more than just visit and leave. That you decide to do more Before, During and/or After you leave these national treasures. I've given you a few ways with some great links in the post. See below for some more ways you and your family can help leave these amazing places intact for generations to come. Thank You
How to Help BEFORE, DURING and/or AFTER your trip
By becoming involved with your time, money or sharing these great organizations with family and friends you will make a huge difference for the parks.
The National Park Foundation was established over 50 years ago. The foundation states on it's website: The national parks are here for all of us, a truly American idea dependent on the support of people like you. The National Park Foundation works in the parks you love to protect them for the next generation.
The National Parks Conservation Association was established over 100 years ago.
Their Mission We're protecting and enhancing America's National Park System for present and future generations.
While visiting national parks, you can make a difference by traveling greener:
Recycle and Compost
Resuse Your Linens
Bring Your Own Reusable Water Bottle
Bring Your Own Reusable Bag
Give the Gift of Green
Take a Tour