Planning Ahead for Your National Park Adventure

Planning Ahead for Your National Park Adventure

Currently the National Park Service manages 63 national parks in the United States solely for the “enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.” Millions of visitors venture out to the national parks each year to take in these unforgettable adventures and sights. 


Planning a trip to a national park does require research and planning ahead. Here are a few key tips from my travel enthusiast mom who is also a brain cancer warrior! She has visited 35 National Parks with friends and her bucket list is to see all of them. 

5 National Park Trip Planning Tips

  1. Choose the park you want to explore. This one may seem obvious but you should consider looking into limited access parks first and going from there, if your goal is to visit each one. Some national parks require a reservation to limit crowd size and minimize congestion. Look into specific deadlines for any reservations you may need to make or lotteries that you need to enter. 

  2. Book accommodations early. It is beneficial to set up an itinerary and plan out the activities for each day (some may be weather dependent!). Amazing adventures such as zip-lining, mule or horse rides, raft rides, etc will likely need to be booked ahead of time. 

  3. Look into the best seasonal timing to visit. Do you dream of seeing the flowers bloom at Glacier? In which seasons are your preferred national parks accessible or most enjoyable? A unique national park like Dry Tortugas requires a 70 mile flight from Florida and, even with the best planning, sometimes that doesn’t work out. Try to align your trip timeline with your travel goals and interests.  

  4. How long do you plan to explore? You can easily focus on one large National Park for days, such as Glacier National Park, or spend one day at various National Parks on your trip like the Utah Fab 5: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion (see Nicole’s article for details!).

  5. Stay flexible! Have a plan but also keep a backup plan in mind in case of changing weather, road closures or personal life changes that can come up as well. Visit for endless ideas of where to go, what to see, what to do and what should be included in your trip planning. 

Mom’s Top 5 Favorite National Park Trips

  1. Grand Canyon

  2. Rocky Mountains

  3. Glacier

  4. Utah’s Fab 5

  5. Wyoming’s Tetons and Yellowstone

Each day is a new opportunity for adventure.Travel safe & enjoy the great outdoors! 



Written by Amy Will 17x Marathoner       

Edited by Macey Leatham RDN

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