What inspires you to explore a specific U.S. National Park? For Alan and me, National Park travel inspiration comes from many sources—books, maps, blogs and more. Although words tell us what to see and do or how to make the most of a trip, it’s the visual that truly inspires our boomer adventures.
After seeing winter photos of Yellowstone National Park, we were determined to visit the Lamar Valley. What an experience!
Watching bison plodding through deep snow was a highlight. And then there was that big horn sheep sitting regally on a cliff.
For me, grayscale coloring books are another form of National Park travel inspiration. When I rub the coloring pencil across the page, it’s as if I’m back exploring Glacier National Park or photographing Canyonlands.
Before I know it, I’m planning the next national park trip with Alan. But that’s a good thing, right?
I’ve published two grayscale coloring books with national park pages in them. Here are some of my favorite completed coloring pages from Coloring the West and Coloring Glacier National Park. Of course I’ve included travel suggestions on how you can follow my itchy travel feet on a National Park adventure of your own.
Stay at Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park is filled with excellent hiking opportunities. But you’ll find the biggest concentration of the best trails at Many Glacier.
So far, Alan and I have hiked to Bullhead Lake and Grinnell Lake. The Iceberg Lake and Grinnell Glacier trails are on our to do list for next time.
In our opinion, the best place to stay in this out-of-the-way corner of the park is the historic Many Glacier Hotel. Make reservations as far in advance as possible as rooms book up quickly during Many Glacier’s short summer season.
Explore Nature’s Handiwork at Arches National Park
This easy to explore National Park in Moab, Utah includes over 2,000 sandstone arches. Alan and I enjoyed photographing some of the most famous arches on a small group photography tour. Of course it meant getting up extra early to capture Skyline Arch in the morning light and staying at the park until after sunset for that iconic shot of Delicate Arch bathed in an orange glow.
Whether you explore Arches National Park by car, bicycle or on foot, you’re in for a beautiful boomer travel adventure. And with its close proximity to the Islands in the Sky section of Canyonlands National Park, you get two national park experiences for the price of one!
Experience Wildlife in a National Park
Alan and I met this moose on a hike to Bullhead Lake in Glacier National Park. She ambled right past us accompanied by her adolescent son or daughter (we couldn’t tell). And, let me tell you, moose are huge when you see them in person.
Luckily, we were hiking with an experienced guide on a Road Scholar hiking tour. She knew exactly what to do so that the moose stayed happy and none of the humans were hurt.
While you might not meet a moose in every national park, you’re sure to find wildlife indigenous to the area that you’re visiting. It’s one of the best parts of national park travel in our opinion. But please follow the rules on approaching wild animals so that you aren’t hurt and the animal isn’t needlessly killed because of your actions.
Visit Glacier National Park in the Winter
Although facilities at Glacier National Park are mostly closed during the winter, seeing the park cloaked in snowy white is a treat. And it’s doable if you follow our advice for planning a winter trip to Glacier National Park. Bring snowshoes or cross-country skis and a sense of adventure—and warm clothing.
I recommend staying at Izaak Walton Inn in Essex. And if you’re arriving from another part of the country, there’s an Amtrak stop at Izaak Walton Inn so take the train for the scenic ride of a lifetime.
Find Adventure at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim
While the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park gets most of the press—and crowds—the North Rim of the Grand Canyon is our favorite. Alan and I enjoy the off-the-beaten-path feel of the North Rim. Plus reaching the edge of the Grand Canyon after traveling through the Kaibab National Forest is a beautiful surprise.
If you go, don’t miss the scenic drive to Cape Royal. Where should you stay? For those of us who aren’t campers, Grand Canyon Lodge – North Rim is the place!