January 22, 2018

15 Things to Do During National Park Week


It’s hard to believe, but National Park Week kicks off tomorrow. It runs through next Sunday (4/29) and admission to all 397 national parks is free the entire week. If you’re planning to head out to enjoy being one with nature, take a look at these 15 things to do during National Park Week.

1. Take a Hike. Grab your backpacks and hike a park trail with a waterfall or lake. Caves and hollowed out trees are also fun to check out on hikes. Bring water and protein-rich snacks to keep energy levels high.

2. Become a Junior Ranger. You know I love the Junior Ranger program. More than 220 parks enable kids to earn official badges or patches for completing a series of educational activities.

3. Have a Picnic. Many national parks have picnic tables and restrooms, so pack a picnic lunch and head out for a day in the park. Check in at the visitors center to get a map with picnic area locations.

4. Pitch a Tent. Get there early because many campsites inside national parks are first-come, first-serve. If you don’t have your own gear, head to REI to rent tents and sleeping bags.

5. Cast a Line. Grab your fishing gear and head out for a day on the lake. Some parks require a valid fishing license and most have regulations with regard to fish quantity and catch size.

6. Go on a Photography Walk. Some parks offer free walks to take photos of nature within the park. Or, just grab your camera and start taking pictures of everything interesting that you and your kids see.

7. Do Some Birding. Some parks offer special birdwatching walks, and others offer resources with photos and descriptions of birds to be found in their parks.

8. Get Your Passport Stamped. Record the name and the date of the visit in your passport book as part of the Passport to Your National Parks program. Companion guides make it easy to find stamping locations.

9. Paddle in a Canoe. Throw on your life vests and hop in a canoe. Some parks offer free guided canoe tours. Or, grab a canoe trail map from the visitors center and just get out on the water.

10. Ride a Bike. Some parks have miles and miles of paved bike trails. At some parks, like Yosemite, you can even rent a bike for the day. Don’t forget to wear your helmet.

11. Splash in a Waterfall. One of the best rewards after a long hike is to splash in a cold waterfall. Pick a park with a few waterfalls to choose from and get splashing (be sure to wear your swimsuit).

12. Pick Wildflowers. Spring and summer are the best times to see spectacular displays of wildflowers along roads and trails. Bring a nature book to help you identify the various flora.

13. Grab the App. There are a variety of smartphone apps to help you navigate our national parks. Some national parks, like the Great Smoky Mountains, even have their own mobile apps.

14. Watch the Sunset. Take a late afternoon hike with the kids. Head to the top of the nearest mountain and just wait for the sun to set. Bring snacks in case you need to wait a while.

15. Stop at Every Scenic Overlook. Many parks enable you to take a nice drive through the park and stop at scenic overlooks throughout the park for panoramic views of nature around you.

I’m hoping to have time to do another post in a few days with 15 more things to do during National Park Week. Do you have any more great ideas? Just leave them in the comments section below.

Photo Credit: rysloan

Disclaimer: This post contains one or more affiliate links. However, the views and opinions expressed in this blog post are purely mine.

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