How to Plan an Epic Summer Trip to a National Park

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Has it been your dream to plan a summer trip to a national park? Do you love hiking trails and nature? The National Park Services reported a whopping 4% increase from last year with more than 300 million people flocking to the parks, looking for some time outdoors after being stuck inside. If you’re one of those people, this article is just the ticket to help you find the best places to stay, which nature trails to hike, and how to obtain time entry passes that will make your summer vacation truly memorable.

Best Times to Plan a Visit

People looking to plan a summer trip need to book early, as the influx to even the lesser-known parks such as Glacier or Lassen Volcanic is on the rise. If you are looking to stay for the duration of your vacation, you need to know where the best and most affordable places to stay are and which are the best activities to participate in.

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If you are a natural early riser, then Yellowstone is the place to visit for your summer trip. If you want to beat the crowds and visit places such as Delicate Arch or Arches’ Window you need to get there early, as people generally start to arrive around mid to late morning. People looking to slow down their pace of life should visit Yosemite National Park, as this is best seen up close and personal and not in a vehicle.

Timed Entry Passes

Timed entry passes are very useful if you’re looking to get to exactly where you go. These passes allow entry within a two-hour window. However, visitors need to note that this excludes the fee for entry to the park.  This fee will be waived if you have a reservation in place to stay at the park or are going in for a specific activity.

Several parks have timed entry systems, such as Arches in Utah, Glacier in Montana, Mount Rainier in Washington State, and Rocky Mountain in Colorado. These reservations help control how many people and vehicles are in the park at once so you can enjoy your experience more.

State Parks and National Forests

Sometimes getting a reservation for a park in the summer is tricky and you may not snag one in time. if this happens to you, you can try visiting a state park or a national forest instead. They’re usually less crowded and popular than the national parks but have similar sights to see.

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A good example of this is Bryce Canyon in Utah. This place is often packed with visitors, but a mere 15 minutes away is Dixie National Forest, which has very similar scenes to see with way fewer people. With a little bit of planning, your national park summer adventure will be the trip of a lifetime!