When’s the last time you visited a National Park?
Did you know there’s 60 of National Parks; at least one in every state? That’s ‘just’ the National Parks since 1916! There’s also countless National Monuments, Historic Landmarks, Battlefields, Military Parks, Seashores, Lakes and Rivers. They’ve grown to epic numbers of visitors. It’s fairly inexpensive, fun and a great way to get in touch with nature and the wild. At the same time, it’s a great way to learn about our Country’s history, geography and geology. Are you ready for your amazing experience?
Yellowstone National Park was established by an act signed by President Ulysses S. Grant on March 1, 1872, as the nation’s first National Park. The National Park Service was created by an act signed by President Woodrow Wilson on August 25, 1916.
7 FUN FACTS about some of our National Parks…
- Acadia National Park in Maine was the first National Park established east of the Mississippi River in 1919
- Alaska has the most National Parks scoring 8 and has America’s tallest peak in Denali National Park.
- Death Valley National Park boasts impressive elevation of 282 feet below sea level
- Grand Canyon National Park is one of the 7 Wonders of the World
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park logged the most visitors; almost 11 million in 2015.
- Hot Springs National Park hosts 47 hot springs that averages temperatures of 143 degrees
- Sequoia National Park has the tallest tree towering 275 feet!
If those don’t give you reason enough to plan your next road trip to one or several of our own national wonders, I don’t know what does!
As mentioned earlier, the National Park Services is more than just the big National Parks. The National Park Service manages 417 sites covering over 84 million acres in every state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands. These sites include national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails, and the White House.
So what’s holding you back? There’s no better way of connecting with your family and your inner peace than packing the RV and heading out to America’s geological, historical or military wonders. Memories will be made that will last a lifetime. Not knocking Disney Parks, but simply, they just won’t reach the hearts and souls of individuals families the way trips to see our Nation’s treasures will.
The only distractions will be natural colors, clean air, brisk mornings, amazing sunrises and sunsets and everything ‘out there’. There is nothing fake; its all very real. You will see beautiful things, smell aromas, hear the calls of the wild, touch the elements and get a taste of real magic.
Week(s) or day(s) before you go…
- Research the National Park(s) you will be visiting especially during heightened weather, fire or traffic alerts.
- Download the National Park Service App or info such as trail maps, interesting stops, exhibits, etc.
- If you are wanting to camp inside the park, make your Campground Reservations early, especially during busy times (ie. school vacations, holidays, summer weekends, etc.).
- Check to see which parks allow you to bring your pets.
- Upload directions to your phone (in case you have no cell signal).
- Create your itinerary – note which trails you want to hike, what exhibits you want to see and plan your stops.
- Let someone know where you will be going; especially if you will be hiking the backcountry.
- Fuel up your vehicle as some sites may be remote with few amenities.
- If you’re taking your bicycle(s), make sure everything is in working order including tires.
- Pack your day packs
- Hydrate the day prior
- Get a good night sleep
- Don’t forget your Passport if you’re traveling to parks near the borders.
The day off your visit…
- Eat a good breakfast
- Pack a hefty cooler with lots of water and healthy snacks
- Fill your water bottles and/or Camelback
- Get there early!
- Plan for the Visitor Center first to watch the video and learn a little about the park. Don’t forget to stamp your passport and pick up your postcards and souvenirs.
- Take your Daypack and Hiking Essentials
- Review Hiking Tips and Advice for Beginners, even if you’re a experienced hiker, its always good to brush up on some of these reminders.
While you’re there…
- Pay your entry fees
- Check in at the Visitor Center – Get passport stamped, trail maps, find out what trails are open/closed, buy souvenirs.
- If you park in any of the parking areas, be respectful and pull up or as close to the first vehicle as possible
- Respect and abide by park rules, road and trail signs
- Drink lots of water; eat healthy snacks often to keep energized
- Hike your ability and follow Hiker’s Etiquette
- Take lots of photos
- Respect wildlife and habitat
- Do not feed, interact, agitate or get close to wildlife.
- Leave no trace – Take everything that you brought (ie. belongings, trash, etc.)
- Share the exhibits and views so others can take photos too.
- Blog, Instagram and Facebook your visit! Be an inspiration to others to entice them to go.
Those are just some guidelines that will help you have a memorable, safe and amazing National Park experience. Now it’s time to get your family and friends together, get your RV packed and head on down the road to the real magic kingdoms!