America's National Parks and Road Trip Planning Find Your Park Road Trip Activities Nature

Planning a National Park Trip

Outdoor Gear Tips

Camping Gear and Equipment

If you are planning a camping trip, are you going to be car camping or backpacking? When is the last time you have checked your gear to make sure it's still intact? Unfortunate things can happen to your tents, backpacks, stoves and sleeping bags while they are being stored or even when you have packed them back up from your last vacation. Before any trip, plan ahead by checking all your gear long before you take your trip just in case anything needs to be replaced.

Hiking Apparel and Equipment

Hiking Apparel and Layers

It's always difficult to plan out exactly what you are going to wear on a trip that involves the great outdoors. This is not the same as a city trip and you have to remember that are other factors to consider. Are you going to do any hiking? How long will those hikes be? What time of year are you planning on visiting these beautiful parks? What kind of park are you going to visit? You might think these questions are over-thinking your trip but the last think you want is to be stuck out on a 5 mile hike with either too much gear or not enough.

Hiking Boots and Shoes

It wasn't all that long ago when finding a comfortable pair of hiking boots wasn't a painful experience of breaking in boots while on the trail. Now, hiking boots come in a variety of lasts. What does that mean? Lasts are the foot shape that boots and shoes are constructed on. This means that with the variety of choices based on so many lasts, your chances of finding a boot that fits great are much better.

Planning Tips

Hiking and Water

In warm months each hiker should carry and drink about a gallon (4 liters) of water per day. Watch your "ins and outs". Drink enough so that urine frequency, clarity, and volume are normal. You are not drinking enough water if your urine is dark, small in quantity, or non-existent in the course of a day's hiking. In addition, eating adequate amounts of food will help you replace the electrolytes (salts) that you are sweating.

Traveling with Pets

Planning on Traveling with your pet(s)? Each park has its own regulations regarding pets within park boundaries. Restrictions on pets in parks are as much to protect your pet as to protect park resources. If you do plan to bring your pet with you on your trip, please abide by all the rules and keep your pet(s) safe!

RV and Trailer Length

Maximum lengths for trailers, campers and motor homes vary from park to park. The average maximum length permitted is 27 ft, but some parks can accommodate up to 40 feet in length. Some parks may have electrical hookups and dump stations. You should check with your favorite parks for their specific maximum lengths and available facilities so you won't be disappointed when you arrive.

Camping and Lodging Tips

No matter where you plan to stay if it is in a hotel/lodge or a campsite, you should always plan your trip in advance and book as early as possible. Lodges and campsites inside the parks book up very quickly while hotels outside the parks you have a little more time with in regards to planning. Busy parks such as Yellowstone, you should consider making your reservations several months in advance.

Guided Tours

There are many guided tour offerings in or near National Parks. They range from half day adventures to multiday adventures. You often do not need to make reservations for the half day to one day trips but it is advisable to go ahead and reserve if your plans are set. You never know how busy the park will be and if a short river rafting trip is on your mind for your adventure, you don't want to be unprepared.

Featured Outdoor Gear

$131.21 25% off
Arguably there's nothing more uncomfortable than wearing a pair of stiff pants on the skin track. So do yourself a...
Price subject to change | Available through

National Park Spotlight
Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon National Park
Featured Wildlife
Maine Puffins
Maine Puffins

Maine ocean islands provide the only nesting sites for Atlantic puffins in the United States. Eastern Egg Rock in the midcoast region, Seal Island and Matinicus Rock at the mouth of Penobscot Bay, and Machias Seal Island and Petit Manan Island off the downeast coast provide habitat for more than 4,000 puffins each summer.