How To Maximize Vacations to National Parks – Part 1
The next time you plan a national parks vacation, consider the following suggestions to make your trip the best it can be. Traveling to Zion or any one of our country’s beautiful national parks is a unique excursion and, if done with the proper mindset and planning, can be an absolutely exceptional adventure.
The Time of Year Matters
The majority of people who take a national parks vacation do so in the summer, hence the large peak-season crowds that have come to be associated with Zion National Park, for example. If hoards of crowds is something that you prefer to avoid, consider visiting your national park of choice during the off-season. Certain parks (like Zion) have fantastic weather year round and offer virtually the same experience regardless of the month visitors come. You’ll also have plenty of hotel vacancy to choose from in addition to eliminating any need for restaurant reservations and other inconveniences associated with the busy season. September is a fantastic month to plan a national parks vacation because you will just miss the crowds while still enjoying the beautiful weather. Whether you’re okay with taking your kids out of school is up to you, but the fact remains that early spring and fall are the ideal times for a national parks vacation. And since we’re talking about time, we should mention that if you wake up early or go later in the evening to see sights, you’ll beat the crowds that way as well in addition to having more peace and quiet.
Have a Purpose
We find that travelers who approach vacations with the mindset of trying to see as many landmarks and accomplish as much as possible in the time allotted tend to have a much more stressful and less meaningful overall experience. The best way to approach a national parks vacation is to set a goal rather than cramming your itinerary to the brim. Do some research and carefully select specific places and landmarks that you want to visit within the park and commit to just those. And it goes without saying that if you travel anywhere without any plan whatsoever, chances are you’ll end up not doing much at all. For example, on day one, let Angel’s Landing be the goal. Day two, something else, and so on. Trust us on this one. The more precise and spacious your itinerary is, the more memorable your trip will be.
Over-packing can really weigh down a national parks vacation. The lighter you pack, the less there is to worry about overall and the flexibility of your trip overall increases, not to mention the money that you can save at the airport with less baggage. Even better, find out if the place you’re staying has laundry facilities. You can pack half the amount of outfits and wear them more than once.
Match Your Gear With Your Itinerary
A national parks vacation typically calls for some particular items. Headlamps, for example, are going to be a much wiser choice than traditional flashlights. You’ll want your hands free during hiking, camping, etc. Always bring more water than you think you will need, perhaps binoculars, definitely batteries, and of course a lightweight backpack of some kind. If you’re planning on hiking the Narrows in Zion, bring a walking stick if you have one and proper shoes for trekking through water and rocks. Whatever you plan to do, try not to overlook items that are necessary for that activity.
Reserve Hotels Early to Get the One You Want
Many returning national park visitors latch on to one particular lodge that becomes a tradition for them. With national parks becoming busier and busier each year, be sure to book a ways in advance (6-12 months) so you can stay at the place you love. If there isn’t a particular place you love, ask around, do some research, and try and reserve a room at a place that others seem to love.
This article will continue with the national parks vacation post How To Maximize Vacations to National Parks – Part 2.