Tips for Seniors: How to Plan Your Next National Park Adventure

National parks might be known for their hiking trails and vast backcountry expanses, but that’s far from all they have to offer visitors. You don’t need to be an avid hiker–or even an amateur hiker–to enjoy our nation’s federally protected lands. Check out these tips to learn how to enjoy the national parks in your retirement years.

Consider Visiting During the Off-Season

One big benefit that comes with traveling during your retirement is the ability to visit tourist-hotspots during the off-season. While only a handful of national parks experience issues with crowding, the ones that do are the most popular, and some of the most beautiful parks out there.

Take Zion National Park for instance. The fourth-most-visited national park in the country, during the Summer months, and even some weekends in the Spring and Fall, crowds can cause lines to form at trailheads, traffic to back up at entrance gates, and parking to become a nightmare. But visit in the early Spring or late Fall, and you can enjoy all of the beauty of the park with none of the crowds. Other parks that are great to visit during the off-seasons are Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Take Advantage of the Senior Pass

The National Park Service offers an annual pass, called the America the Beautiful pass. For just $80, cardholders can enter any national park, national monument, and a variety of other federally-protected lands and landmarks, for free for an entire year. 

Seniors get an even better deal. Starting at age 62, you can purchase the Senior Pass, which is good for entry into any national park, monument, etc., and is good for life. If you don’t want to pay the $80 all at once, you can also opt for a $20 annual pass. Hold onto your previous passes and after you have accumulated four, you can turn them in for a lifetime Senior Pass.

In addition to getting you into the park for free, your pass also gets you entrance for three additional adults and discounts on expanded amenity fees like camping, swimming, boat launching, and guided tours.

Start Your Hike Early in the Day

You don’t have to be an avid hiker to get up close and personal to the beauty of our nation’s national parks. While there are strenuous, lengthy trails in every park, there are also plenty of accessible options. Whether you need a shorter length or a flat surface, you’ll have plenty to choose from.

If you are planning to hike, aim to get on the trail early in the day. During warmer weather, this will help you avoid the heat of the middle of the day. It’s also good for avoiding crowds, ensures that you have plenty of time to complete your hike before dark, and will likely mean you have more energy than you might later in the day.

Stay Close to the Action

Whether you’re looking to avoid a long drive back and forth from your hotel to your national park of choice, want to avoid some traffic, or just want to make sure that you can get to the park early, staying close to the action is always a good idea.

If you’re visiting Zion, staying in Springdale means that you can catch the Springdale Shuttle, which makes nine stops throughout town, ending with a stop at Zion Canyon Village. From there, you can walk to the Zion Canyon Visitor Center and catch the Zion Canyon Shuttle, which takes you through the park. You won’t have to worry about fighting traffic or finding parking and can easily get to all of the park’s most iconic trails and landmarks.

Don’t Be Afraid to Plan a Day of Rest

There’s no shame in planning a day or two of rest during your national park adventure. Regardless of your age, a day off of hiking and exploring will help replenish your energy and leave you feeling more relaxed. After all, you are on vacation!

If you’ve booked your vacation at Cliffrose Lodge, you won’t have to go far to enjoy a relaxed day during your vacation. Lounge by the pool with a good book. Stroll through the gardens. Take in the views of Zion’s red rock cliffs in the distance. Enjoy a mid-afternoon catnap in your luxurious room. No matter how you like to spend your time, you’ll find plenty of things to do at Cliffrose.

Planning Your National Park Adventure at Any Age

While they may be known for hiking trails, camping, and outdoor adventure, our national parks can–and should–be enjoyed by anyone, at any age. And even if you don’t plan to spend hours trekking and climbing, with a little planning, you can still enjoy hiking, sightseeing, and more. Start planning your next adventure in Zion or any other national park today!