National Parks

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National Parks

Helpful National Park Posts

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General Advice

  • Get the America the Beautiful pass if you’re going to a few parks.  It’s $80, but totally worth it, especially for road trips.
  • Most are closed Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.  I’m not sure if this is the park itself or the visitor centers.
  • If you’re using a GPS, put in the park visitor center, or you could end up in some other weird part of the park, which can be cool, but annoying if you have limited time.
  • Bring snacks or eat before you get to the park.  The food is usually expensive and not very good.
  • Bring lots of water and stay hydrated.  Keep some a couple of gallons in your car and bring a reusable water bottle, too.  That way you can fill up from the gallons right into your water bottle.  Here are some of my favorite water bottles for traveling:
    • Hydro Flask insulated 40 oz – I LOVE this because it keeps my water icy cold all day.  I love icy cold water.  It’s a little heavy, but I absolutely love it and it’s perfect in the desert heat, which I’m in a lot of.  If you bring it abroad, a STERIpen will work with it.  Some have too small of openings.
    • Camelbak Groove insulated water bottle with filter – Like I said, I like my water cold.  This doesn’t keep it as cold as the Hydro Flask, but it does a pretty good job, even in the heat of Ecuador.  I like this for shorter trips, or at home because the mouthpiece is hard to clean.  It’s easier to drink from, though, which is a plus for hiking.  A STERIpen would also work with this.
    • Vapur Element water bottle – This is handy if you’re trying to pack light because when it’s empty, you can fold or roll it up for easy storage.  I like this for convenience, but you can’t put ice in it so if you want it cold you have to keep it in the fridge for a while.  STERIpens also don’t fit in the opening.  It’s also a little weird to drink from, taking a little getting used too, but I like it for at home.
    • GRAYL ultralight water purifier and bottle – I haven’t personally used this, but I’m dying to try it!  Lauren at Never Ending Footsteps (one of my favorite blogs) does though and really likes it.  I will be getting this sooner than later, maybe closer to my next international trip, and will update this.
  • Don’t forget to wear sunscreen.  The sun can be pretty relentless, especially in the desert.  I would recommend a hat too if you’re going to be out in the middle of the day when the sun is the harshest.
  • I usually wear tennis shoes if I’ll be hiking a lot, but if I’ll be doing less hiking or anything in the water, I prefer my Chacos. Make sure you get ones that fit really well though or they’ll rub weird on your feet and toes.  They can take a while, like two months sometimes, to break in.  Don’t give up on them too soon!
  • All parks are manageable in one day but will take some planning.  If you’re limited on time, figure out what you want to see so you don’t miss out, then make other stops if you have the time or just can’t pass it up.  Two days would be better to really get to see and do more in the parks.
  • If you want to camp in the parks, check to make sure they’re open and if you need to make a reservation.  Some you do, others are first-come, first-serve.  Plan accordingly.  If it’s first come, first serve, you’ll probably need to get there pretty early to get a spot.
  • While you may want to hike all day every day on your national park vacation, don’t push yourself too hard.  Be sure to rest, drink plenty of water, and listen to your body if you’re too sore or getting too tired.