Visiting this country's National Parks is on many explorers bucket list, and thankfully so, these parks are kept and maintained for our enjoyment. So if you are ready to grab your hiking boots and see all that this wild country has to offer, take some notes on how to do it like a true traveler and not just a moseying tourist.
Whether you are a big planner or not, looking up a few things ahead of time will save you time and disappointments later.
Our national parks may be as busy as amusement parks but the Maintenance and fix-time is CONSIDERABLY slower AND these are wild places, not man made, and easily patchable. So when storms, heavy rains or long winters happen - trails close and accessibility can become limited.
Find the True Experts
If you didn’t find much prior research, when you get close to the Park (whether a town or nearby city) ask around for where the best place to grab a bite to eat is or see if they have a local coffee shop. Make friends with the servers or baristas - they are your ticket.
These are the people who live here, they love their backyard and they love being able to explore the area with as limited tourists as possible.
You’ll probably have to prove yourself - they don’t give information on where to best explore to just anyone. So, explain why you’re worthy.
Speak of your knowledge of Leave No Trace, your hope for the future of our parks and any pre-trip research you have done
Whatever you do, DO NOT walk up to anyone and say “so we just got in, what is there to do around here”
I guarantee any local won’t be giving you any info on the hidden gems of the area.
National Parks are beautiful, wild places kept protected so that we can explore them. Our parks were chosen based on the exquisite landscapes that they are and these landscapes and formations were created by intense and powerful weather.
Bring layers, be prepared for all possibilities - I live just outside Zion National Park and within 45 minutes you can travel from 5,500 ft of elevation up to over 11,000 ft. That is a change of multiple atmospheres and the weather is drastically different.
Look up the weather before your trip and bring whatever you can to be prepared. Plus that’s the whole reason you bought that raincoat two seasons ago, that you’ve only worn once.
Visiting our country's national parks is a privilege and it is an experience that I hope everyone has the opportunity to do. If you are whom is looking to explore our lands and share in the beauty that are our National Parks remember to aim above the average tourist, do your research, make friends and come prepared.