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National Park Travel Planner for Baby Boomer Travelers

Planning a national park vacation? Start with our National Park Travel Planner.

Updated 04.01.2018. Traveling with a plan makes life so much easier, don’t you agree? Our National Parks Travel planning starts with deciding where to go, what 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 the Amazon store. Use our National Park Travel Planner to make the most of your active boomer trip. And 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 Weekly Broadcast to be the first to know!

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White-capped mountains reflected in the blue water of Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Our travel planner will help you plan a trip to the stunning Glacier National Park in Montana.

Whether you’re planning a national park road trip or a week’s vacation at a 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 we’ve included only the best online resources in our National Park Trip Planner. Bookmark our favorites for your boomer travel planning. We’ve also included our favorite apps.

National Park online travel resources

If you’re looking for National Park information from boomer travelers who’ve been there and done that, our National Parks Destination Guide is a one stop shop for inspiring your next trip. You’ll find first-person articles about national park adventures, including special sections on Glacier National Park and Utah National Parks, plus a comprehensive list of the best National Park apps as well as visual inspiration from our National Park Pinterest board.

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.

Are you flying to a National Park destination? Start by searching the best rates in flights with Skyscanner. Be sure to download their app for researching while you’re on the road: Skyscanner iOS App Download or Skyscanner Android App Download.

Looking for a place to stay? Start your National Park hotel search with us.

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!

For National Park hiking advice, Ash at Dirt In My Shoes, is a former park ranger who knows her stuff when it comes to western national parks.

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

Road trips and national parks are a natural combination. While we don’t recommend visiting all 59 US National Parks in one year, the folks from Great American Road trips did it and are now writing about their journey.

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.

Men bend over tripods capturing the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park.

National park photos make great memories.

National Park books, guides and videos

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.

Lonely Planet’s USA’s National Parks offers insider tips and trail maps. Boomer travelers will also discover how to save money, avoid crowds and stay safe on a US national park trip. Choose the print version or eBook, it’s up to you.


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. 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.

We could spout off about U.S. National Parks all day long!

National Park travel gear for your next trip

Traveling in a U.S. National Park 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 The High Sierra Express Lumbar Pack, which is just the right size for a day hike plus the lumbar support keeps my back comfortable.

Tilly Hat
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 Sierra Designs Women’s Hurricane Pants.

Patagonia raincoat Torrentshell rain jacket helps you stay comfortable, warm and most importantly, dry. We 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 there’s lots of white in the background.



Alan and I both wear Merino Wool Hiker 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.

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Text on photo: National Park Travel Planner, where to go, tips for getting there, best guides to read, gear to bring. Photo: white-capped mountains reflecting in a blue lake with rocks near the shore.

 

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