This weekend marks the beginning of National Park Week, where the U.S celebrates their “best idea” ever. For one whole week (April 16-April 24), you can visit each one of the country’s National Parks entirely for free. And, it’s all just in time for spring, having some of the best weather of the year. With 58 national parks to choose from, planning your itinerary for the week can be a bit overwhelming. In order for you to make the most of this amazing week, follow these tips to enjoy National Park Week before it’s too late!
1. Learn Where the Parks Are Near You
There are national parks spread throughout the entire country. Though the most popular parks seem to be Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Park, that’s not really convenient for folks living on the east coast. Take a look at the list of national parks, so you can figure out where you’re going this week.
2. Check Out Google Maps and the Cultural Institute
Before you go anywhere, you must check out this awesome Google Maps compilation. It lists the street view of all the U.S National Parks and Historic Sites, so you can get in on all the action before you arrive. It’s also great for people who want to see what’s going on, but can’t get out as much as they’d like. Be sure to also take a look at the Google Cultural Institute, to read up on these significant places and see where they are located.
3. Read up on National Park Week’s Activities
In addition to the national park’s fees being completely waived, there are also several activities and programs going on throughout the week. April 22nd is Earth Day, which is a perfect time to join in on an environmental project in one of the parks. April 23rd is National Park Week’s “Instameet,” which is the chance to meet up and take videos or photos of the parks for Instagram. To find out more, visit the National Park Service website.
4. Introduce the Outdoors to Friends and Family
National Park Week is a great time to bring friends and family to the outdoors. With all the parks being free and the weather mild, there’s hardly any excuse someone can give to not come! For those who need to ease into it, there are plenty of easy hikes you can do within the parks. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to spread the love of the backcountry to those you care about.
5. Bring Along Fido
If you’re bringing friends and family along, why not bring along your best furry friend too? While most of the parks have strict rules when it comes to bringing dogs, there are several national parks that are more pet-friendly. See which parks qualify for you and your buddy.
6. Plan a Road Trip
Visiting the parks during National Park week is the cue for taking what could be a much needed road trip. Even if you can’t drive from one coast to another during the week, maybe you can take your car (or RV) through a few states that home national parks.
7. Camp Out
Saving money on your entrance fee to the park means more money towards camping out! Spend as much time as possible taking in the beauty of these parks by camping out in them. Now would also be a great time to test out all that new camping gear you bought for the year. Bring your tent and sleeping bag, have a reservation ready if you need it, and prepare for an unforgettable night sleeping under the stars.
8. Try a New Outdoor Sport
National Park Week is the perfect time to try a new outdoor sport or activity. Depending on the geography of the parks you’ll be visiting, it could mean many opportunities to get your adrenaline up. Try white-water rafting, cycling, running, kayaking, rock climbing, and other extreme sports. If you’re feeling something more relaxing, you can always try fishing or yoga.
9. Make a National Park Scavenger Hunt Checklist
Each park is a magnificent sight in itself, but what about all the great features in the parks? Make yourself a checklist of animals, birds, trees, flowers, and even the different types of backpackers you’ll see. Try to complete the list by the time the week is over. It will be a fun game to add to the adventures. If you don’t finish by the time National Park Week ends, you might just have to come back again and again!
10. Get a FitBit and Workout
With all the hiking you’ll be doing this week, it would be a good idea to get a Fitbit or another kind of fitness monitor. Hook up your favorite fitness apps, and see how much all that exercise is helping your body.
11. Share Photos
While you’re enjoying all the beauty these national parks have to offer, don’t forget to take some photos of it all. You can share them on the national park week website or post them via the hashtag #FindYourPark. Don’t forget to also share your videos and tips about enjoying the week to the fullest!
What are you waiting for? Get out there and experience National Park Week!