4 Fun National Park Vacations
Thanks to the more than 400 locations under the care of the National Park Service, a person could spend a lifetime discovering all they have to offer. Whether your vacation hot button is a magnificent national park with plenty of room for outdoor recreation, a historic site where you can dig deep into our nation’s history, or a place where the rivers run free and the fish are jumping, you’ll find plenty of choices within the National Park System. Let’s look at four ways a national park vacation can fit the bill for you and your traveling companions.
There are nearly five dozen national parks (what we call the capital N.P.s like Yellowstone National Park or Voyageurs National Park) in the U.S., so finding one near you, or in a place you’ve always wanted to visit, is easy. Affordable campsites, well-planned visitor centers, convenient park shuttles and other amenities help make our national parks easy to access and enjoy.
Narrow down your choices by deciding what you’d like to see or do most. Here are our suggestions:
- Searching for the country’s most beautiful waterfalls? Consider a trip to Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina and Tennessee, Yosemite National Park in California, or Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
- Hoping to make an epic hike part of your vacation stories? Why not try the Hoh River Trail in Olympic National Park, where giant trees and ferns shroud hikers in peace and wonder?
- Like to get underground? Consider taking on the Wild Cave Tour at Mammoth Cave National Park – but be ready to get dirty as you squeeze, crawl, and free climb for six hours of non-stop wonder.
- Don’t mind getting your feet wet? Try a hike through narrow canyons while wading the Virgin River in Utah’s Zion National Park.
Discover the geographical history of the nation by visiting some of our country’s national monuments, preserved as areas of historical significance.
Here are a few to get you dreaming:
- Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument – New Mexico
- Jewel Cave National Monument – South Dakota
- Dinosaur National Monument – Colorado and Utah
- Buck Island Reef National Monument – St. Croix, Virgin Islands
- White Sands National Monument – New Mexico
- Fort Matanzas National Monument – Florida
- Fort Pulaski National Monument – Georgia
National Recreation Areas
Find your vacation bliss and make time to play at one of our country’s magnificent national recreation areas. Whether planned around a mighty river or miles of rocky canyons, the NRAs offer outdoor fun for nearly every taste. Here are some ideas:
- Paddle your way down the Delaware River between Pennsylvania and New Jersey or hike the nearly 70,000 acres that surround it within Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area.
- Long to know the West as it was in America’s early days? Plan a trip to hike the trails, camp in starlit solitude or boat the waterways at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area in Montana and Wyoming. It’s a great place for wildlife watching, too!
- Have some outdoor fun without spending a bundle – pack the kayaks and fishing gear and spend a few days on the cool waters of Georgia’s Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. It’s a favorite with paddlers and trout fisherman alike, and you’ll find it a refreshing change of pace in a beautiful setting.
National Historic Sites
For travelers who like a bit of history in their vacation, there’s no better place to find it than within the National Park System. The National Park Service preserves and interprets the stories of various battlefields and military parks, as well as historical parks and historic sites, so finding one or more on your travels won’t be difficult.
Perennial favorites include:
- Tuskegee Institute National Historic Site – Alabama
- USS Constitution at Boston National Historical Park – Massachusetts
- Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site – Hawaii
- San Antonio Missions National Historical Park – Texas
- Valley Forge National Historical Park – Pennsylvania
As you can tell, there’s a lot to see in America! From beautiful parks to the places that helped shape our history, there’s a perfect destination for you and your favorite traveling companions to visit on your next vacation. The National Park Service has worked since 1916 to keep our country’s extraordinary destinations safe, affordable, and downright amazing to visit. Isn’t it time you discovered why?
About the Author: Joe Laing is the marketing director for El Monte RV, a nationwide RV rental company. Joe has been on the road working within the travel industry for over 20 years, and greatly enjoys exploring the outdoors. Joe has been camping across the United States, from coast-to-coast, and makes a point to stop at national landmarks along the way. He is also actively involved in numerous campground associations, including RVIA’s Go RV’ing committee, as well as travel industry association.