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National Park Adventures

Updated 03.30.2018. When it comes to National Park adventures for boomers, there’s no lack of active travel experiences. Nature watching, photography, hiking, cycling, kayaking, winter activities—the recreational opportunities are endless. Alan and I hope that these National Park vacation ideas will inspire your next boomer trip.

National Park Adventures for Boomers

These National Park trips are based on our first-hand travel experiences—boomer travelers who’ve been there, or those of hand-picked guest writers. We find that reading an account from someone who’s been there and done that is the glimpse we need when planning a National Park vacation. You will, too!

Since January 2013 (and before), we’ve been offering tips and advice to the National Park traveler. come back often as we continue to publish travel adventures on this page. Or subscribe to the My Itchy Travel Feet Weekly Broadcast to be the first to know!

The sun glows orange on the rocky landscape at Cape Royal on the Grand Canyon's North Rim.

Seven Off-the-Beaten-Path National Parks to Avoid the Crowds

Do you hate crowds as much as we do? Our advice is to plan National Park adventures during spring, fall or even winter. But if you have no other choice except traveling during the busy summer season, Alan and I recommend beating the crowds by visiting off-the-beaten-path national parks or monuments. We show you how to do just that in Seven Off-the-Beaten-Path National Parks to Avoid the Crowds.

Snow covers the mountains around Crater Lake on a spring visit.

A Spring Visit to Crater Lake National Park

Even though activities are limited in Crater Lake National Park due to a snow cover that hasn’t yet melted, we highly recommend a trip during May. Once Crater Lake Lodge opens, head to the park to snowshoe, walk the roads that have been partially plowed or simply explore the snow-covered wonderland before it melts. You’ll appreciate the lack of crowds. And the photography opportunities are amazing! Take a look at our Spring Visit to Crater Lake National Park to plan your trip.

Need help with your trip? Click on over to our National Park Travel Planner.

A creek runs through snow covered Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park.

Visiting Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley in the Winter

Located in the remote northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park, Lamar Valley is often called America’s Serengeti. On a winter visit you’ll see bison, deer, elk, otters and possibly wolves (unfortunately we didn’t see any wolves). If you only have one day to explore, we’ll show you how to make the most of exploring Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley in the Winter. It’s more accessible than you realize.

At Logan's Pass in Glacier National Park, glacial carved mountains are bathed in blue on a sunny day.

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is certainly one of our favorite National Parks. We’ve spent a lot of time getting to know this beautiful area, especially since moving to Montana. The park is so much more than a drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road, although that’s a spectacular experience. The hiking trails are some of the best that we’ve ever hiked . And the wildlife watching offers incredible opportunities. Click through to read about our many boomer adventures in  Glacier National Park.

The orange sandstone of Delicate Arch spans across a rocky canyon in Arches National Park.

Utah National Parks and Monuments

With five national parks and numerous national monuments, Utah is an active boomer traveler’s dream destination. We’ve explored Canyonlands, Arches, Natural Bridges, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Valley of the Gods and beyond. If you’re looking for adventurous dirt roads to explore, hiking trails with waterfalls, arches and some of the most spectacular scenery in the southwest U.S., click on Utah National Parks and Monuments to read more about incredible Utah.

Blue river winding through the desert landscape at Big Bend National Park

Hiking Adventure in Big Bend National Park

If your looking for a boomer adventure in Texas, consider Big Bend National Park near El Paso. You’ll experience rugged terrain, wildlife watching in a diverse habitat and plenty of hiking opportunities. If you don’t mind roughing it when it comes to lodging, this may be the uncrowded National Park for you. Read Deborah Lonergen’s hiking advice by clicking on Hiking Adventure in Big Bend National Park.

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

The colors are gray when the lights aren't on inside Carlsbad Caverns.

Two Off the Beaten Path New Mexican Treasures

When it comes to off-the-beaten-path National Parks, New Mexico claims two incredible parks that are not to be missed! And you couldn’t get more diverse than a white sandy desert followed by cool cave exploration. Check out Sam Lowe’s experience at White Sands National Monument and Carlsbad Caverns National Park by clicking on Off the Beaten Path New Mexican Treasures.

A gyser sprays white water into the air at Yellowstone National Park on a blue sky day.

Spouting off in Yellowstone

Are you planning a visit to Yellowstone National Park? The park is famous not only for abundant wildlife, but also the geo thermal features that make Yellowstone unique. And the geysers are easy to explore, even for less active boomer travelers. See for yourself when you read about our experience watching the geysers Spouting off in Yellowstone.

Golden fall leaves are reflected in the blue water of Oxbow Bend with the Grand Teton mountains looming in the distance.

Fall Visit to Grand Teton National Park

Explore Grand Teton National Park on this two-day itinerary. If you go in the fall, you’ll discover blue skies and golden fall colors, unfortunately, you won’t be the only boomer travelers around. But seeing Oxbow Bend dressed in golden leaves is well worth it. Read more about our experience by clicking on Fall Visit to Grand Teton National Park.

Beige, orange and olive layer the sediment on the cliffs at the Grand Canyon.

North Rim: The Grand Canyon’s Other Side

Skip the crowds at the South Rim. Drive the 212-mile journey to the North Rim for hikes, wildlife and and ponderosa pine forests that inch right up to the canyon’s edge. Visit in the fall before the North Rim closes due to snow. You’ll enjoy the crisp air and sunset on the deck of Grand Canyon Lodge. We did! Read more about our experience in North Rim: The Grand Canyon’s Other Side.

The olive, orange and grey peaks of the Grand Canyon are layered one in front of the other on a blue-sky day at the Grand Canyon's North Rim.

Take a Scenic Drive on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim

While you’re at the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, don’t miss 23-mile scenic route from Grand Canyon Lodge to Cape Royal. The scenery is just beautiful and, if you go in the fall, you’ll avoid most of the crowds. Not an active boomer traveler? This drive is for you. Read more about how to Take a Scenic Drive on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim.

Mountain terrain beyond the blue waters of Hidden Lake in Glacier National Park.

Our Favorite National Park Hikes

National Park hikes are wonderful boomer travel adventures. From easy to moderately difficult here are five of our favorites. From a trail in off-the-beaten-path Black Canyon of the Gunnison to the popular Hidden Lake Trail in Glacier National Park, you’ll find a hike for your next National Park adventure. Read more about Our Favorite National Park hikes.

Sun lights up the mountains in Yosemite National Park as mist rises over the Merced River.

Eight Great Hiking Trails in Yosemite National Park

Are you planning a trip to Yosemite National Park in California? Hiking in Yosemite is a great way to see and experience the immense beauty of one of the most famous U.S. National Parks. Noel Morata inspires a hiking trip with his advice on trails from easy to moderately difficult in Eight Great Hiking Trails in Yosemite National Park.

Soft light illuminates a log cabin along a path in a hardwood forest of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Adventure in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Whether you’re an avid hiker or prefer to travel by car, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a must-see for boomer travelers. In addition to the beautiful Blue Ridge mountains folding over one another, the history offers another reason to visit. Click on Adventure in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park to read more from Vera Marie Baderstcher.

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