How to Use Your Deli Order to #FindYourPark

Katherine RivardNPF Blog
Lassen Volacanic National Park — National Park Service

When it comes to national parks, the opportunities are endless. There are over 400 national parks in the U.S., each offering incredible experiences, programs, events, and educational opportunities. In fact, the opportunities are almost as endless as your lunch options! Wrap, white, wheat, or whole grain? Provolone or cheddar? Ham or double veggies? That’s without even considering condiments!

To make choosing both your lunch and your next #FindYourPark adventure easier, choose your favorite sandwich below to learn which national park might be a great fit for you!

Grilled Cheese: Laid back vibes

A Joshua Tree against the sunset

Two slices of bread, any type of cheese. Butter the pan and let it all melt.

Gooey cheese tells that this is not the choice of a perfectionist. Instead, grilled cheese is for those who are laid black, calm, and don’t mind buttery fingers! They crave simplicity and prefer to go with the flow. Visit Joshua Tree National Park, where you can relax amidst the wide open beauty of southern California. Bring your binoculars along for birdwatching or gear up to climb or boulder. Simplest of all, backpack through the park at your own pace, then spend the night looking up at the Milky Way.

Ham: Simple and historic

Pinkish orange sunset over the green hills on the Anza Trail on Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail in California
Bhoj Rai/NPS

Bread and ham, thinly sliced — BAM!

Does anyone do ham better than the Spanish? Visions of jamón ibérico layered on a crusty hunk of bread have us thinking that Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail is the perfect complement for ham lovers. This sandwich is an old favorite, and this park tells a story almost as timeless — that of Juan Bautista de Anza leading 200-some people on a long journey toward what became the first non-Native settlement in the San Francisco Bay area. Pack a sandwich for fuel as you enjoy any part of the 1,200-mile trail through Arizona and California or try travelling along the trail via train!

Turkey: The All-American athlete

View of Blue Ridge Mountains in Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Philip Varney, Share the Experience

America’s beloved “healthy” alternative to ham.

An American classic, as iconic as the football quarterback and just as athlete-friendly. The turkey lover requires a national park that’s just as classic — like Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Wake early to fish in the park’s 2,900-some miles of streams. Then once the sun is up, hike along these iconic trails through North Carolina and Tennessee. You’ll pass through thick areas of shrubs, trees, and wildflowers in this park overflowing with vegetation.

Chicken Salad: The individual

The stone walls with engravings at the living history exhibit at Lincoln Boyhood National Monument
National Park Service

A unique twist, that goes beyond deli meat.

Those who choose chicken salad have come to terms with the fact that they’re different and they prefer to march to the beat of their own drum. Opting for this kind of sandwich says they’re not interested in mindlessly following the crowd – they prefer a special and classic choice! Cue: Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Indiana. This historic park keeps alive the childhood of President Abraham Lincoln, who was not afraid of making difficult choices or standing by his morals even in hard times. Learn about life for this president as a child and walk along the trails in the park.

Roast Beef: Hearty and intense

A lone hiker with an orange backpack on the trail with Crag Mountain in the background at Lake Clark National Park & Preserve
R. Jones/NPS

Warm, inviting, and even better when dipped in a side of au jus.

One does not seek a roast beef sandwich without a love for intensity and hearty things. Roast beef is for those who want adventure and thrills, something they can find at Lake Clark National Park & Preserve. Head to Alaska’s tundra to safely view bears or watch the salmon swim. You’ll be craving a hot, hearty sandwich after hiking along Redoubt Volcano and Iliamna Volcano (the park’s two active volcanoes), or the hundreds of square miles of glaciers within this stunning park.

Peanut Butter and Jelly: Youthful and fun

Two boys on a platform looking down into a cave at Waco Mammoth National Monument
National Park Service

Sweet and salty, and best enjoyed with a glass of milk.

Peanut butter and jelly? This is for the youthful souls – the ones with a playful disposition and a desire for creativity and fun. Waco Mammoth National Monument will have you feeling like you’re back in school as you learn about the incredible paleontological finds located about a 1.5-hour drive from Dallas, Texas. Take a guided tour to see the fossils of mammoths, camels, and other animals from tens of thousands of years ago, right where they were found! Then, learn more about the Ice Age, mammoths, and their eventual extinction.

Reuben: Sturdy and welcoming

Castle Clinton Ranger with Civil War Soldiers at Castle Clinton National Monument
National Park Service

Irish corned beef, Swiss cheese, German sauerkraut, Russian dressing all on rye bread. #WelcometoAmerica

This robust combination of so many ethnic foods is welcoming and warm, but also substantive, just like Castle Clinton National Monument. With humble beginnings as a fort built by Americans during the War of 1812, this defense was later used as a restaurant and entertainment center, and even as an aquarium. Anyone who revels in the glory of a Reuben’s mix of ethnicities will also value this park’s history as an immigration landing depot during the late 19th century! Take a tour to learn even more, then head into the city for a good Reuben, or bring one and enjoy it on a bench, sitting at the foot of Manhattan.

Hummus Wrap: Sensitive and salubrious

Colorful sunset behind the rocky cliffs of the California coast at Point Reyes National Seashore
Matt Skalski, Share the Experience

A sustaining smear of hummus layered with crisp, colorful vegetables reminds you compassionate choices taste good.

The vegetarian option is crunchy, health-conscious, and leaves you feeling better for having chosen it. It’s the choice of the thoughtful humanists who care about the world around them and want to better the National Park System for the sake of our public lands and for the future generations who will also enjoy them. That’s why these softies will appreciate the sunshine on their faces and the sand beneath their feet at Point Reyes National Seashore. They can soak up the sun and explore Drakes Estero. The recent restoration of the area is one example of compassionate people coming together to preserve a special place. Improving the world while exploring the park’s 80 miles of shoreline? What’s not to love!

Tuna Salad: The risk taker

The stone cliff dwellings at Walnut Canyon National Monument, a park in Arizona
National Park Service

Mayo, canned fish, celery, toast. Somehow still yummy.

There is always the chance that the bread is soggy, but tuna salad fans are willing to risk it all. Though they may be risky with their sandwich choices, they’re bound to have a great experience when they visit Walnut Canyon National Monument. This park tells the story of ancient people, living in a risky area. After all, what could be riskier than living on a cliff over 900 years ago? Enjoy an interpretive program with a ranger to better understand the history of the area, or simply explore as you take in the beautiful curved canyon walls.

Egg Salad: The nerdy intellectual

TheVisitor Center of Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
National Park Service

Eggs, bread, mayo. Sustenance to keep the focus on your work.  

Picture the “nerdy” intellectual, so entrenched in their research that they barely look up as they eat lunch. They choose a quick sandwich made of whatever they have on hand. They love to learn new things and so a park with a historic and scientific setting will have them totally engaged. At Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, delve into Cold War history during a guided tour to understand the significance of this tense period in world history.

Cubano: The island lover

Blue ocean in front of a brick Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, a park in Florida
Leslie Velarde/NPS

The “elevated” ham and cheese, with some heat. Roast that pork, and don’t forget the pickle!

The Cubano lover will appreciate a national park not far from the sandwich’s birthplace in southern Florida. The warm climate and laid-back feel are exactly what they seek. So, they’re bound to enjoy the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. Arrive by ferry or seaplane, then soak up the sun and the history of the park’s 19th century fort. Snorkel away the afternoon in the clear waters to explore the Florida Keys reef system – the third largest in the world, and then plan ahead to reserve one of the limited camping sites.

Avocado Toast: Urban chic

View of the rocky green hills on the Mishe Mokwa Trail at the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, a park in southern California
National Park Service

Sourdough and a smear of healthy fat – the trendy choice of a city slicker.

This choice is for the urbanite who stays up on the latest trends. They’ve got a busy schedule and crave a national park so close to the city that they can wake up, sip some lemon water, meditate, then stroll outside in nature before heading back into the city for their mid-morning cycle class. Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area sits beside Los Angeles and provides locals and visitors plenty of options for hiking and a chance to get away from the city’s bustle without even leaving. Even cooler? Youth trail crews keep many of the trails clear thanks to grants from the National Park Foundation!

There’s a national park perfect for every personality. Interested in exploring a national park besides your childhood favorite or the one closest in proximity? Try one of these options based on your favorite lunch sandwich, and for even more ideas, head to There’s no better way to explore nature, learn American history, and experience new things than getting outside to #FindYourPark/#EncuentraTuParque!

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