U.S. National Parks: How to Plan Your Trip
Like many expats I know, most of the travel I’ve done has been outside of my home country, the U.S. In fact, my European friends have seen more of the States than I have, and their wistful descriptions of the U.S. national parks have inspired me to plan a trip.
Danielle Jacobs-Erwin, host of the podcast Everybody’s National Parks, joined me on the Postcard Academy to discuss the history of the National Park System; what we need to do to prepare for a trip the national parks; where to stay; what to eat; and more.
Subscribe to the Postcard Academy for free to hear everything you need to do to plan your trip to the U.S. National Parks -- some activities require that you book two years in advance!
“There are 419 park sites,” Danielle says, “and those fall into different categories of monuments and historical sites, battlefields and national seashores, and then there are the big parks. We're up to 61 national parks.”
Planning your trip
The U.S. national parks are massive and spread out, so pick the one you’re dying to see and then plan nearby ones around that.
If you visit more than one national park for the year, it might make sense for you to buy the $80 annual pass, which is valid for everyone in your car.
Where to sleep
“You can stay at the lodging inside the park you can camp in the park,” Danielle says. “If you can't get a camping reservation inside the park. There's also BLM sites (Bureau of Land Management) and every state has wonderful state parks, and there's usually state parks near a lot of the national parks.
“If you're doing federal land camping, whether it's inside the park or the Bureau of Land Management campgrounds, you want to go to the recreation.gov website. That's where you would do your bookings and see what the options are. The campsites vary in their amenities.”
What to eat
“All the parks have concessionaires and, if they are lodges, there's always a nice restaurant. If we're staying in a lodge, we will make dinner reservations. If we're camping, we will sometimes go shopping before we enter the park. There's always places to get sandwiches and things. We always have peanut butter and jelly with us. We prefer to pack our food so that on our hike we don't need to be worried about that and can enjoy the day.”
If you found this article useful, please share it, and subscribe to the Postcard Academy podcast. Each week, expats and adventurers share their insider travel tips on the best food, nightlife, and cultural experiences in the most interesting places around the globe. I’m your host, Sarah Mikutel, an American who's spent the last 8 years living in, and traveling around, Europe.