National parks are one of the nation’s most precious commodities. The many acres of preserved nature provide an opportunity for an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. These awe-inspiring parks can be experienced however you please — adventure or relaxation or a combination of both. Before you head out into the great outdoors, make sure you have your accommodations in order. They earlier you prepare, the more likely you will secure a spot at your desired hotel resort or campground; and you’ll have the chance to shop around and find what’s right for you. Here’s a guide to help you plan your trip.
The first step is to decide on your preferred experience. Are you interested in a rugged experience or do you want your accommodations to have some of the comforts of home? There are a number of resorts located within or on the outskirts of the national parks, which can provide you with spacious rooms and noteworthy restaurants. You can alternatively seek out a campground, where you can camp under the stars in a tent and cook your dinner over a fire. A happy medium would be a glamping experience — many national park campgrounds will have cabins, yurts or safari tents available for your stay.
Make your reservations far in advance of your travel dates. In the busy summer season, have your reservations set at least three months in advance. Most hotels are connected with travel sites for a convenient reservation process. Reserve America is an excellent resource for campground reservations, as it will let you choose both your length of stay as well as the particular campground site. The website provides maps of each campground, so you can arrange how close you are to the bathrooms, trail and other features of the grounds. If you plan to stay for a week or longer, call the resort or campground and inquire about long-term stay rates.
Yosemite spans the eastern region of central California. The 748 acres of land reach across the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada mountain chain. The park is recognized for its waterfalls, pristine streams, sweeping valleys, sequoia groves, granite cliffs and bio-diversity. Yosemite is a wonderful location for backpacking excursions. The best time of year for exploration is between April and October, where the chance of rain is low. Make sure you are equipped with the proper hiking gear as well as other recreational gear like uninsulated boots, wind breakers and fishing galoshes.
Yellowstone is one of the world’s most recognized parks, as it is the first National Park in the U.S. Located in the states of Wyoming, Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone has many must-see features. Make sure you visit at least one of its geothermal features, like the Old Faithful Geyser. The park is mainly composed of forest, but has a variety of ecosystems, including lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. The park can be enjoyed year-round; in the winter you can partake in cross-country skiing and snowshoe trekking for exploration of its snow-covered acres.
Zion, located in Utah, is known for its 15-mile long and half-mile deep canyon. The part features iconic red and tan colored navajo sandstone — large clusters of which can be found at the north fork of the Virgin River. Zion is rich in animal diversity, boasting over 289 species of birds, 75 mammals and 32 reptiles. This park is ideal for those who love day hikes or rock climbing.