- Always go to the park during sunrise and sunset to avoid the crowds and get the best light! Parks are always packed in the middle of the day, and not to mention, on a bright sunny day, the lighting will be really harsh and you will get bad shadows in your photos. When you wait to visit some of your favorite places during sunset, you will not only get the best light for photos, but by this time, most of the crowds have left the park to go eat dinner or set up camp for the day, so you get a lot more freedom to enjoy the park without other people obstructing your view!
- If you are bringing your pet, always always check the rules for having your pets at that specific park. Most parks claim to be “dog friendly” but they actually only allow dogs on the main paved areas and parking lots, and not on the trails! So before you plan a trip with your furry pal, check the rules and prepare accordingly!
- Before you go, check the national park website for any road or trail closures! Road or trail closures because of snow or fallen rock happen a lot in the mountains.
- Have a loose plan- but nothing too set in stone! There is nothing worse than getting to a National Park and not having at least an idea of what you want to see! Some of the parks like Bryce Canyon are easy to go through spontaneously because it’s basically one road in and out. But other big parks like Glacier or Yosemite are great to have an idea of what you want to see so that you can schedule your stay accordingly. Sometimes we fly by the seat of our pants but we almost always look up some of our favorite, picturesque attractions before the trip to make a loose plan so we know how long we want to be in the park.
- Speaking of making a plan- my favorite place to look for ideas is The Outbound Collective. Everything is so visually pleasing on their website and makes it easy for me to visualize what it would be like to spend time in that place. Tony also really loves to look up hiking trails on All Trails, because it is very logistically set up, and gives many details to each hike (he is a left brain- I am a right brain!).
- Get an annual National Park Pass! It’s valid for a whole year and will get you into any National Park or other Federal Recreation Site! It’s especially wise to do this when visiting 2 or more national parks in one trip, because buying an annual pass can be cheaper than spending $30+ for a week pass at each park. The national parks in SE Utah, or Yellowstone/Tetons are great examples! Since these locations are all so close to each other, you can usually hit 2 or more parks in 1 trip to get more use out of your pass.
- Stop at most of the turn-offs when driving through a National Park. Sometimes the unplanned stops end up being the coolest.
- Last but not least… stop in the visitors center and grab some stickers 😉 We collect them and put them on our jeep, canoe, pelican case, laptops, yeti…. you name it, we probably have stickers on it! 🙂