National Park Travel Planner for Baby Boomer Travelers

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National park trips are some of our favorite boomer travel adventures. But, these days, they are no long spontaneous trips. With the increasing popularity of U.S. National Parks, planning ahead is imperative for a good travel experience.

Traveling with a plan makes life so much easier, don’t you agree? Our National Parks Travel planning starts with deciding where to go, determining if we’ll need any national park vehicle reservations, discovering fun things to do and, of course, determining what to take.

Alan and I begin with online travel research, followed by reading books and a browse around our favorite online stores. Use our National Park Travel Planner to make the most of your active boomer trip.

What you'll find in this National Park Travel Plannner

  • National Park online travel resources
  • National Park books, guides and videos
  • National Park travel gear for your next trip

Boomer Travel Tip

Come back often as we continue to update and verify our recommended online resources and products for you. Or subscribe to the My Itchy Travel Feet National Parks Newsletter to be the first to know!

National Park online travel resources

Whether you’re planning a grand national park adventure, or a quick getaway to your favorite park, online travel resources equal instant information at your fingertips. But we’ve found that too much information complicates research rather than speeding it up.

That’s why you’ll find only the best online resources in our National Park Travel Planner. Bookmark our favorites for your boomer travel planning. We’ve also included  favorite apps.

If you’re looking for National Park information from boomer travelers who’ve been there and done that, our National Park Adventures page is a one stop shop for inspiring your next trip. You’ll find first-person articles about national park adventures, divided by region, including special sections on Glacier National Park and Utah National Parks.


Our online research about traveling in U.S. National Parks begins with the official National Parks site for the most up-to-date information. We especially like the find a park search page for getting the travel research ball rolling.

Boomer Travel Tip

Many national parks now require entrance reservations during the high summer season in addition to the National Park Pass. Check your favorite national park for regulations and to reserve your spot. Plan ahead!

Think of National Parks Traveler as your daily source for park news. You’ll find travel articles plus the latest media coverage. Great information here!

Photos make the memory of a trip last longer. Read our National Park photography tips.

Would you like to avoid national park crowds? We’ll show you off-the-beaten-path national parks for avoiding the crowds.

Looking for a place to stay? Start your National Park hotel here.

Do you make the most of your trip by using travel apps? If you said, yes, then check out the best national park travel apps for boomers.

When it comes to a national park boomer road trip, we know our stuff. Refresh your road trip knowledge at our USA Road Trip Planner.

More and more, we’re hearing how time in nature is a healthy practice. That’s why Alan and I use national park adventures to improve our health. Read how you can do it, too: Why visiting a national park should be part of your health routine.

If you’re not a do-it-yourself type traveler, check out the National Park tours at Viator. You’ll find day trips and longer tours.

National Park books, guides and videos

Snowcapped mountains reflected in a lake with rocks at the edge of the lake and trees to the right

While online research is easy and convenient, Alan and I still enjoy sitting down with a good book to research our National Park adventures. Of course, we load them into Kindle, when we can, for easy access on the road, especially since good Wifi and national park travel are a rare combination. And we think everyone needs the visual inspiration that only a quality DVD can provide (or on Netflix if that’s your choice).

National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States is an excellent resource and a great place to begin your U.S. National Park planning. The guide includes 300 photos, 80 maps and park descriptions for 59 national parks in the U.S. Bring it along for reference, especially when there’s no internet connectivity in the park.

If you’re traveling to a western national park, we highly recommend a road and recreation atlas from Benchmark Press. Versions are currently available for Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Alaska. They’ve recently added other regions including the Southern Appalachians and Texas. You’ll find details on roads, both paved and dirt, hiking trails and recreational ideas for national parks and lands adjacent to them. We never leave home without ours!

Falcon Guides are our go-to guide when it comes to hiking. You’ll find a Falcon Guide for practically every national park. We appreciate the detailed trail information as well as suggestions for easier hikes and nature walks. Accurate maps and inspiring photos are included, too. We sit down with a Falcon Guide before our trip to plan hiking itineraries. They are small enough to pack with us for last-minute questions about the hike that we’ve chosen. Use the guides as a complement to the trail maps that you’ll pick up at the park visitors information center.

If you haven’t viewed the DVD, Ken Burns: The National Parks – America’s Best Idea, you should. Not only are the shows inspiring but you’ll learn about the history and creation of the U.S. National Park System. It took Ken Burns six years to film this 12-hour documentary. In our opinion, you should view the series before every trip that you take to a national park.

Feeling artistic? We’ve created Coloring Glacier National Park, A Grayscale Coloring Book for Travelers from our photos of trips into the park. Color the pages as inspiration before your trip or to relive memories of your favorite spots in Glacier National Park.

Boomer Travel Tip

Browse our national parks books recommendations all in one place. You’ll find 52 to add to your reading list. Click through to 52 Best National Park Books.

National Park travel gear for your next trip

woman wearing a backpack in front of a lake with mountains behind
I’m geared up for a hike at Many Glacier in Glacier National Park

Gearing up for a National Park trip is all about comfort and being prepared in case of emergency. You probably have your own must-have’s but you might want to add one or two items that we can’t travel without.

Walking Poles take the pressure off our knees when Alan and I are hiking downhill. I also find that the poles help when my fear of heights kicks in—which happens more and more frequently these days. Hiking poles keep me feeling steady and secure. If you’re a boomer who’s balance is deteriorating, don’t let that stop you from hiking. Use poles and keep on staying active!

We avoid backpacks whenever possible because they’re hard on our boomer backs, especially since I’ve had back surgery. Our choice is to hike wearing lumbar waist pack, which is just the right size for a day hike plus the lumbar support keeps my back comfortable.

Since I’ve experienced skin cancer a hat is a must for me, Alan, too. My Tilley Endurables Hat protects my face from the sun. I also like the mesh feature, which keeps my head from getting too hot. And the chin strap keep the hat on my head when the wind gusts.

Zip-off pants are indispensable on a National Park trip. And the pockets are a big bonus. I keep my iPhone in one for easy access just in case an animal sighting occurs and I don’t have time to pull out the good camera from the backpack. That’s why I pack several pair of Columbia Women’s Convertible Pants.

This rain jacket helps you stay comfortable, warm and most importantly, dry. I love its highly breathable quality that doesn’t make it too suffocating. Fold the lightweight jacket into a day pack or backpack for easy access. Buy a colorful one to stand out in photos, especially if you’re photographing at a glacier or against a snowy scene.

Alan and I both wear Darn Tough merino wool socks to keep our feet dry, comfortable and cushioned on a long day of exploring. Shh, don’t tell anyone, but I sometimes wear these around the house as bedroom shoes.

Have we given you enough ideas for planning your trip? Check back as we continue to update our resources and advice so that you have the best boomer travel possible. And don’t forget to subscribe to the National Park Newsletter!