We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. At no extra cost to you, I only recommend products I have experience with. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Did you know that this is National Park Week?
National Park Week is every April, this year (2022) from April 16-24, celebrating America’s National Parks.
But, why should you care?
Because in addition to the 62 National Parks, the National Park System also manages National Monuments, Lakeshores, Coastlines, Memorials, and Preserves. Over 400 such places!
How many have you been to? I wish I had a count. Every year I say I’m going to get my National Park Passport, but I never do because I know there are many places I won’t make it back to!
Here are a couple of handy tips for visiting the National Parks.
Make Reservations Early
Places such as Yosemite National Park and Arches National Park require a reservation just to get into the park. If you want to camp in some of the more popular parks, get your reservations as soon as possible.
We are planning an epic trip to the California National Parks this summer and have not only made our reservation to get into Yosemite but also purchased our America The Beautiful Parks annual pass to help skip the line in some cases. (and save money)
Places such as Mammoth Cave also require reservations to go on cave tours.
Don’t worry if you are waiting until the last minute like I am. There are still plenty of campgrounds near some of the bigger parks. In fact, I scored this campground about 40 minutes from Yosemite Valley.
Download the NPS App
And download the parks you visit directly to your phone. Service may be spotty in the wilderness and you may not get a strong cell signal.
One thing I noticed while making reservations is a lot of the campgrounds will list what the cell signals are like. Plan to be off-grid.
Download the Recreation.Gov App
This app is the place that holds your reservations. Recreation.gov is where you’ll buy passes, peak hour reservations, campgrounds, tours, and more.
Buy an Annual Pass
With access to over 400 national parks, an $80 annual pass is well worth its value. Not only that, one pass covers you plus 3 adults and any children in your vehicle.
It gets better. Current and former military members and their families get an annual pass for FREE.
And, every 4th grader in a park also gets a 4th-grade student and their family into the parks from September to August of their 4th-grade year.
If you’re a senior, you can get a lifetime pass for $80.
The Access Pass is a free lifetime pass for US residents with permanent disabilities.
Find the Hidden Gems
Everyone has Yosemite, the Utah 5, Yellowstone, and a few others of the big parks on their list. And yes, see those. But I encourage you to dig deeper and find some of the hidden gems in the National Park Service.
Some of our other hidden gem favorites include the Badlands National Park. It’s otherworldly and I’ve never seen anything like it. (I’ll have a blog update soon)
Do some research
If you have a limited time in the parks, find out the best spots. The Moon Guide to the USA National Parks has been invaluable to me in planning our upcoming California adventure. This book gives the highlights of the 62 National Parks. Moon Guides also has in-depth guide books for some of the bigger national parks as well.
Do you have questions about the National Parks? Let me know!