Tips for visiting National Parks

Tips for visiting National Parks

From the classics you probably road-tripped to as a kid in an RV or a minivan, like Grand Canyon National Park and Yellowstone, to the ones you may have never even heard of yet such as Great Basin National Park and Guadalupe Mountains National Park, the US is filled with National Parks for you to explore.
Here are 5 tips to help your National Park days run smoothly so you can fully enjoy exploring and embrace every jaw-dropping sight you see.

Get a National Parks Pass

An Annual National Parks Pass will save you major money and get you out visiting National Parks more often.
The pass is $80, and that covers your vehicle's entry into any US National Park and National Monument for one year. Without the pass, regular day entry into National Parks is around $30 per vehicle, sometimes it’s more sometimes it’s less. 
So if you plan on visiting even just three National Parks within the next year, you need to get the Annual Pass. 
It also gets you out there more often when you know you aren’t paying that pesky entrance fee. A couple of months ago I went on a road trip with the first leg of the trip from Boulder, Colorado to Hansville, Utah. I’ve done this stretch of road trip handfuls of times and pass through Grand Junction every time. This time though, since I had my pass, I decided to stop at Colorado National Monument. It was absolutely incredible to see and I fully intend to visit again and explore some more. Had I not had my National Parks Pass, I would’ve never even thought to stop there. 

Check if Time Reservations are Required

Farther into that same road trip we did something so dumb it took off an entire stop on our trip and it was so avoidable. 
We made it out to Red Rock Canyon National Park and pulled up to the ranger window and they said, “reservation please.”
Yeah, we didn’t have a reservation. We didn’t even know that was a thing, and there were no time slots left for the day. We got turned away and I still haven’t seen the inside of Red Rock Canyon National Park.
All it takes to avoid this unfortunate mistake is a quick Google search a couple of days before you’re expecting to visit. Just look up the park you’re intending to visit and on the park’s website, it will tell you if you need a timed reservation as well as when and how to make one.

Research Where to Go

Most National Parks give you a map when you enter, but it is super helpful to know a little bit about the spots on that map to know which ones are worth it and which ones you might want to skip. You won’t have reliable cell service in the park, so make sure to do this before you go. 
The love for planning is on a spectrum: for some people, the thought of sitting down to research and plan makes them want to get up and physically start running away. Others thoroughly enjoy the planning process and love to move on a well-thought-out itinerary. The rest are somewhere between.
Wherever you are on the planning spectrum, go with that and plan as much or as little as you want.
If you entirely despise planning, just find cool places that get you excited to explore and keep the day running smoothly from one spot to the next, but don’t feel like you need to burden yourself with a locked-down itinerary.
From gnarly hikes, scenic drives, cool photo spots, and quick walks to beautiful views, to cool picnic spots, National Parks have it all and you can use the internet and social media to find neat spots that suit your wants and needs. Jot down these places and even if you have your heart set on that one specific hike, find a few backups just in case it’s overly crowded and parking is full, the spot is temporarily closed, it doesn’t quite live up to the photos you saw, or you get there and suddenly a 6-mile hike in 90-degree weather doesn’t sound so pleasant anymore.

Pack Properly

National Parks are generally pretty far out, and aside from the ranger station and gift shop, you won’t find places to purchase food, water, clothes, shoes, or anything else you may need.
You don’t need to go crazy or pack heavy, just give yourself some peace of mind by bringing the essentials, like: 
  • A reusable water bottle (most parks will have a water spigot or somewhere to re fill, generally by the ranger station or bathrooms)
  • Some snacks and maybe a lunch
  • Clothes that suit the weather
  • Sunscreen
  • A couple of bandaids in case you get distracted by the view, misstep, and take a tumble
  • Pack it all in your Pure World backpack
Set yourself up so you can explore freely rather than worrying about things like when you will get your next sip of water or getting too much sun because you forgot sunscreen. Plus, we all know it’s the one time you don’t have a bandaid that you bust your knee. 

Be Kind to the Earth

The Earth is beautiful. It’s filled with so many jaw-dropping landscapes that you will never run out of places to explore.  Let’s keep the world pure so it keeps on taking your breath away. 
Leave the land in a way that no one would ever even know you were there- no trash, no carvings in the rock, or vandalizing in any way. Always Leave No Trace. Visit this link to learn more about Leave No Trace and the 7 principles to follow when exploring the outdoors. 
Choosing to use a Pure World backpack as your adventure bag is such an easy way to practice sustainability and be kind to the Earth. Pure World backpacks are made from 100% pure organic hemp- an incredibly sustainable material because the crop requires only small amounts of water to grow and it replenishes the soil as it grows. Hemp is also biodegradable and the high quality of the backpack means you can depend on your adventure bag and won’t have to worry about purchasing a new one for a very, very long time. 
Respect the land, be kind to the people you see out there and take care of yourself. Happy exploring.
Written by @peaceofliv

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