A visit to a national park is a great way to unwind and get back to nature. If you feel you’ve already experienced the more typical activities, such as hiking and camping, you might be looking to try something new. Or maybe you just want to make sure your next trip is extra memorable. Regardless, here are 5 unique, creative ways to experience National Parks! An additional helpful tip for booking tours – checking what the park’s official concessionaire offers can be a great way to easily find a reliable service. Don’t be afraid to branch outside of this either – some highly rated tour companies also exist in surrounding communities!
1. Via Bicycle
Get a one-of-a-kind perspective, as well as some exercise, by biking through a National Park. This is a great option for those who looking for active and hands-on experiences, while also wanting to step outside of simply hiking. Additionally, many parks offer bike rentals, meaning that depending on your intended location, you might not even have to own or pack a bike for this adventure! Both Yellowstone and Yosemite, for example, offer bike rentals inside the park. Additionally, a number of National Parks, including Acadia and Mount Rainier, now allow e-bikes where normal bikes are allowed. For those interested in cycling in a National Park, check out any park-specific guidelines for that area before heading out. Additionally, good bicycle safety, including wearing bright, reflective clothing, and helmets is always suggested – especially if cycling on roads or trails that could contain unexpected obstacles.
2. Get Artistic
Here’s a fun way to both experience parks and document your trip – make an art project out of it! This is a great option for everyone – kids will love getting to create something of their own, adults will love exploring new activities, and regardless of age, you’ll get a keepsake out of it. There’s several ways you can really bring out your creative side – here’s a few ideas! If you’re looking for a low-tech idea, consider bringing along some disposable film cameras. While taking photos on smartphones is always an option, this can be a unique way to mix things up. Better yet, each group member can document their own perspective throughout the trip. If you’re looking for an idea with some more structure, consider looking into to guided art programs that are offered at your destination. Many companies in or near National Parks offer guided photography or painting tours.
3. Get a Bird’s Eye View
Looking to get a truly unique perspective of a national park? Consider adding air travel to your next trip. Going on a scenic plane tour over a national park can be a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime experience. This may not be a possibility at all parks, but there are several companies that offer services. Montana Air Adventures, for example, offers scenic tours of Glacier National Park for the whole family! Similar options exist for parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone as well.
4. Go for a Horseback Ride
If you love animals, here’s a fun suggestion! Horses are allowed at several national parks, and there’s a couple of ways visitors can generally explore parks on horseback. The first is through a company that offers trail rides, such as Cades Cove Riding Stables at Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This is a great option if you’re new to horseback riding – for many guided trail rides, no prior experience is necessary! For those who already have a horse of their own, you’ll be pleased to hear that many National Parks also allow horses and have various amenities for them. Yosemite National Park, for example, usually has both stables and horse campsites. Only the horse campsites are open this season, however.
5. From the Water
National Parks are often home to large, stunning bodies of water, so why not venture onto them to see nature in a unique way? Here’s a couple of fun ideas on how you can do this! If you’re traveling with family or a group, consider looking into renting a boat. Renting a boat for a day is a great way to explore the waters at your own pace, as well as relax. If you’re looking for some thrills on your vacation, why not take a rafting trip? Companies such as Denali Raft Adventures (Denali National Park) offer a variety of rafting packages ranging from 3-hours to full-day trips. Finally, if you’re interested in some hands-on fun, consider renting a kayak or paddleboard for the day!
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories