This is Part 2 of a 3-part series. Check out my other posts:
7 Reasons Why You Will Love The U.S. National Park Service’s Fee Free Days
7 Budget-Friendly Reasons Why National Parks Make Awesome Vacations
Did you know that practically anywhere you stand in the United Sates, you are less than 100 miles from a designated national park, monument, shoreline, trail or historic site? And that National Parks made awesome budget vacations? So what are you waiting for? Go on, find a national park and start planning that next vacation. You won’t regret it!
Not sure where to start? No problem! Let me help. I’m in the throes of planning my own national parks vacation, and the following seven resources are what I used to jump start the planning process. Each resource has provided me with essential national park trip planning information, and they will do the same for you.
1. U.S. National Park Service
The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) is the official website of the United States national parks system, and should be your first stop in planning any national park vacation. It is chock full of practically everything you need to set that perfect travel plan in motion. Vital trip planning information like entrance fees, park opening times, driving directions, available ranger programs, and lodging options can all be found on the NPS website.
Not sure where you want to go, or what activities are available? Use the Find A Park page, where you can search by state, park name, activity and even by topic. Want to know when to go? Check the Event Calendar for activities that suit your travel desires.
2.The National Park Foundation
The National Park Foundation is the only non-profit national partner to the National Park Service, and is dedicated to the preservation of our national park system for today’s visitors, and for generations of visitors yet to come. It’s website is loaded with detailed park information invaluable for planning a national park vacation, and is a perfect compliment to the NPS website.
Discover national parks through videos, stories and photos created by other like-minded travelers. Peruse the Travel Idea page for ideas and inspirations of where to go. It’s perfect for exploring options, and finding just the right park for your next vacation.
3. National Parks Traveler
National Parks Traveler is dedicated to bringing it’s readers the daily happenings in the national parks. It’s also a great resource for “all things National Parks” with feature articles, specific park news, and other helpful planning information. The National Park Traveler website is like having a national parks daily newspaper right at your finger tips!
4. Oh Ranger! Park Finder
Need to find a park right now? Load the powerful Oh Ranger! website or mobile app, and before you know it, you’ll have an awesome list of nearby parks, complete with all the information you need to plan a visit. What makes this gem of a website and mobile app stand out from others, is that it also includes state parks. And there are plenty of incredible state parks worthy of your precious vacation time too!
The free Oh Ranger! Park Finder app is an on-the-go powerhouse of park information that doesn’t stop once you arrive at your destination. While there, Oh Ranger also keeps you on top of the park’s daily action. Oh Ranger! is an integral member of my own parks apps.
5. National Geographic National Park Guide
With it’s dedicated National Parks Guide, world renown National Geographic puts it’s own spin on national parks, and is the perfect compliment to any vacationer’s travel planning needs. In addition to general park information, NatGeo also provides information about areas surrounding the park. You know, just in case you want to do other activities besides the national park.
Download the free National Parks By National Geographic app for on-the-go information. Detailed park guides chock full of essential travel information as well as camping and lodging option are available for in-app purchase of $1.99. Sounds like a bargain to me!
6. Chimani National Parks Guides
Chimani is another powerful on-the-go national parks app that includes invaluable park planning tools as well as inspiring photos. Though not all national parks have a dedicated Chimani guide, those that do are worth the in-app purchase price. The real time information alone is worth it! Chimani is my other “go-to” national parks app.
The Chimani app has in-depth park details for 15 of the most popular national parks. Create a virtual passport of park visits and keep track of how many locations you visit. The app is free, but the bulk of useful information will require an in-app purchase.
7. Your Local Library or Book Store
Ok, yes, perhaps the library or book store is a bit more “generic” than the other resources, but they too are vital to my trip planning. Because, you know, sometimes I just want to hold an old-fashioned book in my hand.
Here’s five national park travel books worthy of providing you with a more “hands on” approach to planning a national park vacation:
Check out more than one national parks book as each one will provide slightly different information.Thumb through pages. Peruse through spectacular photos. Most of all, be inspired! And get out there and explore these national treasures.
Where Will You Go?
So there you have it. My seven favorite resources for planning a national parks vacation. Though they by far are not the only resources I use, they are my starting point. So what are you waiting for? Go on and start researching your own national park vacation!
Do you plan vacations to national parks? What’s your favorite resource for planning a vacation to a U.S. National Park? Do share!