Tens of thousands of people are looking towards the National Parks to satisfy the adventurer within, and it's a great idea. The National Parks System is something we should all be proud of, in so many ways. In total, there are 63 National Parks, but 423 "National Park Sites" in the United States. On my travels, I've come across adventurers chipping away at the goal of visiting them all.
What a life eh? I can tell you from experience that there's so much to learn from each and every park. So many programs, guides, maps, locations, trails, routes, rules, permits and so on. I've been able to see the mistakes that most people make, and wanted to take some time to share them so you can avoid these pitfalls.
Your journey should begin with visiting the National Park Website, www.nps.gov. Here you'll find an almost overwhelming amount of information on each park. Be sure to check the calendars and events section, along with admission fees and restrictions. The next thing to do is download the App recreation.gov on your smart phone. Here you'll be able to make reservations for shuttle tickets, accommodations and much more.
After taking some time to explore these areas the best thing to do is get on a guided tour of some kind. These fill up way in advance, so the sooner you plan the better. Apps are great, but nothing compares to the experience of a professional guide. You'll be able to absorb so much more than trying to figure it out yourself. Yes, you're clever and savvy, but trust me, this is the best way to go. Get a private tour if a group setting isn't your thing. These are popular now and commonplace to offer.
Not a morning person? You really need to adjust. There's plenty of reasons the morning time is best in the National Parks. First and foremost, there are way less people meandering about. This alone should be motivation. There are other advantages though such as the animals. They mostly frolic at dusk and dawn. You'll have a much better chance seeing these great creatures at sunrise and sunset before they go into hiding. Speaking of sunrise and sunset, photography plays a significant role here. If you want good photos, these are the best times. Midday, you'll be fighting with glare, and potentially a washed out look with the sun coming from above. Colors abound in the morning and evening.
Local operators know these things, and they'll take you to the best places. Locals know the park, both inside and OUT. If you think all the magic happens in the park, you'd be mistaken. Thousands of miles of canyons, trails and overlooks exist outside the park system and can be made accessible, if you have the means, knowledge and permits!
I hope this provides a little insight into visiting the parks, and should you want the best adventures there are to offertake a sec to fill out the form for a private organized tour.