When it comes to the best National Park travel for boomers, there’s no lack of active experiences. Nature watching, photography, hiking, cycling, kayaking, winter activities—the recreational opportunities and adventures are endless. And you don’t have to be an ultra adventure seeker to enjoy them.
Exploring a U.S. national park is one of our favorite boomer travel adventures. With 63 National Parks, you’re sure to enjoy a fun trip. And that doesn’t include the parkways, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, national monuments, lakeshores, historic sites, reserves, preserves, rivers and seashores included in the National Park System. 423 sites in all!
What you'll learn about National Park Travel from this page
- Our national park travel philosophy
- How to avoid crowded national parks
- How to plan a national park trip
- The best national parks in the West
- Eastern national parks that you should visit
- Off-the-beaten-path national park adventures
Our National Park travel philosophy
What do we look for in a national park trip? We like parks with easy to moderate hiking trails, scenic drives with plenty of pullouts and wildlife watching opportunities. A good dose of American history is an added bonus. We also stay in national park lodges whenever possible for their history, architecture and location within the park.
Did you know that a national park trip is good for your health? We agree, as long as you stay active by hiking our favorite national park trails. And a national park vacation goes a long way to relieve stress, especially if you’re visiting uncrowded off-the-beaten-path national parks.
How to avoid crowded national parks
Boomer Travel Tip
Are you a baby boomer who’s an avid National Park traveler? Come back often as we continue to publish national park trip ideas on this page. Or subscribe to the My Itchy Travel Feet National Parks newsletter to be the first to know!
How do you plan a National Park Trip?
When researching national park driving trips, the Bench Press Road & Recreation Atlas is our go-to guide. You’ll find individual versions for all the western states and some of the eastern ones.
When it comes to hiking, we are big fans of Falcon Guide hiking books. Again, you can find versions by state, national park or even regions of the U.S.
For the ultimate look at National Park books, check out our article: 52 Best National Books.
Boomer Travel Tip
Don’t miss our tips for planning a national park trip. You’ll find them in the National Park Travel Planner.
The Best National Park Adventures
The National Park trips featured on this page are based upon 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!
The Best National Parks in the West
Some of the most iconic national parks are located in the western U.S. Think expansive landscapes, mountains that reach to the sky and desert views. Check out some of our favorites. There are separate pages for Glacier National Park and Utah national parks.
Exploring Glacier National Park
Exploring Glacier National Park is an incredible experience thanks to breathtaking landscapes and prolific wildlife. Read our tips for visiting this crowded and popular national park!
The Best Parks in Utah for Baby Boomers
Discover the best parks in Utah for boomer travelers. Our first-person articles will inspire your next Utah national park road trip or a state park adventure.
North Rim Grand Canyon National Park: The Ultimate Guide
A trip to the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona is a once-in-a-lifetime travel experience. Over the course of 5 to 6 million years, the Colorado River has carved a 277-mile path through layer upon layer of geology creating a gorge that’s a mile deep. Luckily for us, our forefathers were wise enough to preserve 1.2 […]
Crater Lake in May: how to plan your trip before the crowds arrive
When Alan and I were planning a last-minute Crater Lake trip for late May, we should have known something was up. Reservations for three nights at Crater Lake Lodge in southern Oregon‘s Cascade mountains? Score! Have you tried to get last-minute reservations at a national park lodge? It’s almost unheard of. There was a very […]
2 Days in Death Valley: Itinerary for Boomer Travelers
Here’s a national park trip idea for you. This Death Valley 2 day itinerary will help you get the most out of America’s largest national park. There’s so much to see that it helps to have a plan for this region of California. My Itchy Travel Feet featured contributor, Debi Lander (ByLanderSea) shares her tips […]
Driving Cape Royal Road on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim
Is driving Cape Royal Road at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim on your national park itinerary? Let me show you why it should be. Hint: you’ll avoid the crowds on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon plus enjoy a North Rim scenic drive with gorgeous views of the canyon. If you’re a long time […]
A Panoramic Photography Hike in Yosemite
When looking for a photography hike in Yosemite National Park, you can’t go wrong with the Four Mile Trail. Yosemite is certainly one of the most popular, and beautiful, National Parks in the country. And there’s plenty to photograph. Guest writer and photographer, Noel Morata from behind Travel Photo Discovery, take us on one of […]
Hiking in Yosemite: 8 Great Trails for Baby Boomers to Try
Hiking through a scenic national park like Yosemite is a fantastic way to experience nature’s exquisite beauty. And, if you’ve been reading My Itchy Travel Feet for very long, you know our motto: Put your feet on the ground to truly experience a place. Between majestic mountains, clear lakes, dramatic waterfalls, and incredible views all […]
Spouting Off in Yellowstone
Are you planning a national park adventure in Yellowstone this summer? Don’t forget to visit the geysers. Did you know that Old Faithful, the world’s most famous geyser, is just one of 10,000 thermal features in the Wyoming park? When Alan and I made a fall trip to see the geysers of Yellowstone, we spent several […]
A fall visit to Grand Teton National Park
Alan and I traveled to Grand Teton during an ambitious Western National Park road trip. Our stops also included stops at the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, Yellowstone and Glacier National Park before joining a Tauck tour of the Canadian Rockies in Calgary, Alberta. We explored Grand Teton National Park on two October days when the […]
Hiking to Hidden Falls in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Do you enjoy a hike with choices—taking the long way when there’s time or choosing a shorter version that better fits your schedule? The Hidden Falls hike in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming, does just that. Alan and I have hiked this popular Grand Teton (official website) trail twice—the longer Jenny Lake trail […]
Two Off the Beaten Path Treasures for New Mexican Travel
When it comes to New Mexican travel, you won’t find a more vibrant state in the US. From colorful Santa Fe to off-the-beaten-path El Morro active boomers will find plenty of adventure. Our previous trips to the Land of Enchantment have been nothing short of spectacular, especially our New Mexico Backroads Adventure. Guest writer, Sam […]
Adventure Awaits in Alaska’s Denali Park
For anyone looking for a national park adventure, there’s simply no better place to experience it than Denali National Park. From expansive views of breathtaking Alaska landscape to local wildlife, Denali is really something unique. Today’s guest poster, photographer Dennis Calhoun, visually brings us one step into Alaska’s incredible Denali National Park with his incredible […]
A Winter Trip to Glacier National Park
If you’re looking for things to do on a winter trip to Glacier National Park, you’ll be surprised at how much there is to do. Inside the park, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and winter hiking provide a beautiful winter experience. Or you could just admire the scenery. Winter is a fine time to visit this […]
Visiting Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley in the Winter
For years, I’ve wanted to visit Lamar Valley in winter, especially to see wolves. What a fabulous national park trip that would be! Located in the remote northeast corner of Yellowstone National Park, the Lamar Valley is America’s version of the Serengeti. Or so I’ve read. Montana Highway 212 is the only road that’s open […]
Eastern National Parks that you should visit
The eastern portion of the U.S. has its share of national park destinations. You’ll find them on the coast, in the mountains and everywhere in between. Take a look at our recommendations.
Acadia National Park Itinerary for 2 Days of Boomer Fun
Maine offers plenty of things to do for active boomer travelers. But to experience the best of Maine, you’ll want to follow our Acadia National Park itinerary for two days of hiking, lobster eating and exploring coastal Maine. My Itchy Travel Feet featured writer, Debi Lander of ByLanderSea, recently traveled to Bar Harbor, Maine. She […]
Best Things to Do in New River Gorge National Park
Are you looking for the best things to do in New River Gorge National Park? The gorge has long been know to thrill-seekers or those looking for a beautiful scenic drive. And compared to Great Smoky Mountains, it’s a less crowded national park. With so much to see and do, it helps to listen to […]
Tips for a Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip from Key West, Florida
Are you a boomer traveler who enjoys a national park adventure? Florida travelers, what about a remote trip that includes sailing to an off-the-beaten-path national park? If so, you’re in luck. Guest contributor, Erika Nelson, is here to share her tips for a Dry Tortugas day trip. It’s the perfect addition to a Florida Keys […]
9 Easy Trails in the Smoky Mountains
If you’re looking for easy trails in the Smoky Mountains, you’ve come to the right place. Like many boomers, Alan and I like to include hikes in our national park trips. We know that you do, too. While it’s important to challenge ourselves on moderately strenuous trails, sometimes all we want to do is stroll […]
Six of the Best Shenandoah National Park Hiking Trails for Baby Boomers
By now our love of National Parks is pretty obvious, as is our love of hiking. Whenever possible, we like mixing the two, enjoying great scenic views while doing a little bit (or a lot!) of exercise. Although we have had the pleasure of hiking around the world, today’s guest contributor, Suzan L. Jackson from Book by […]
Driving through History on a Natchez Trace Road Trip
On a Natchez Trace road trip, you’ll experience history, culture and a scenic drive through beautiful areas of the South. Alan and I have driven a small portion of the road on a short, Natchez Trace tour. However My Itchy Travel Feet Featured Contributor, Debi Lander from ByLanderSea, drove the entire parkway. She shares her […]
Southern Pennsylvania Road Trip: How to explore Gettysburg and Amish Country
Boomers love their road trips! Alan and I certainly do. But we haven’t experienced a southern Pennsylvania road trip. Shame on us because we’ve missed out on some important U.S. history as well as lovely scenery. Lucky for us, Susmita Sengupta is here to inspire a trip to Gettysburg and Amish Country in southern Pennsylvania. […]
Smoky Mountain Adventures That Are Easy To Do
The hot summer months are a great time to hit the mountains, especially the Smoky Mountains. And even though it will be crowded, visiting Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a fun way to cool off from urban life on the East Coast. First, let’s set the scene. Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located […]
52 Best National Park Books for 2023
If you are looking for the best national park books, I’ve found 52 that you need to know about! Along with my favorites, you’ll also discover books on every facet of our national parks. Of course you’ll find the usual guides and coffee table books but there is so much more when it comes to […]
Off the beaten path National Park Adventures
As national parks trips increase in popularity, knowing where to go to avoid the crowds is important. I recommend visiting off-the-beaten path locations in the National Park Service for a better experience during prime tourist season.
Exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on a Trip to Michigan
As you already know, we jump at any chance to have a National Park adventure. But, as beautiful as they are, we also love to find scenic places that don’t necessarily attract hundreds of thousands of people. In addition to 63 National Parks, did you know there are actually 423 sites in the park system? […]
John Day Fossil Beds National Monument: Tips for a one-day visit
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-path national parks experience in Oregon, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument more than qualifies. Road tripping in the remote, rural countryside of eastern Oregon’s John Day River Basin is a visual treat. Fossils, hidden in the region’s rock layers, are the true star of this trip. And you’ll unravel […]
Exploring Canyon de Chelly on a four-wheel-drive adventure
Canyon de Chelly, located on the Navajo Reservation, sits atop the Defiance Plateau along the northeastern edge of Arizona. This off-the-beaten-path national monument combines spectacular scenery, ancient cliff dwellings, and a look at a traditional Navajo way of life. It’s well worth the time and effort to explore. People have lived in Canyon de Chelly […]
Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore Memorials: How to Visit Two South Dakota Stone Monuments
When it comes to traveling the Midwest, a visit to the South Dakota stone monuments of Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, is a must, along with a trip to Custer State Park and the Badlands. Unfortunately, Alan and I have yet to see them. What a shame! When our South Dakota road trip finally appears […]
Visit Little Bighorn on a Montana Road Trip
If you’re roadtripping in Montana, visit Little Bighorn on an exploration of Big Sky Country. It’s a somber lesson on what happens when two cultures collide. Teresa Otto shares her experience visiting Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument. You’ll also appreciate her tips on how to get there. How to visit Little Bighorn on a road […]
Explore Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area on a Wyoming Travel Adventure
Would you like to explore Bighorn Canyon in Wyoming? Summer is prime time for National Park travel, but getting away from the tourist pack isn’t always easy. But an off-the-beaten-path trip to Bighorn Canyon is every bit as breathtakingly beautiful as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone. Guest contributor Teresa Otto is here to share her […]
History’s Written in Stone at El Morro
Here’s an off-the-beaten-path adventure that will intrigue you. El Morro National Monument is located in the northwestern corner of New Mexico on SR 53. For centuries, travelers and explorers have stopped to rest and replenish themselves at an oasis of water wedged into the base of this sandstone outcropping that overlooks the high desert. Before […]
How to Experience an Haleakala National Park Sunrise
Hawaii is one of the many US states that has been blessed with more than its fair share of natural beauty. From an expansive coastline to colorful flora and breath-taking landscape, it’s no wonder that this tropical paradise is a popular destination for travelers. The wonderful adventures in Hawaii are an added bonus! For those […]
Hiking Adventure in Big Bend National Park
If you’re looking for another off-the-beaten-path National Park adventure, look no further than Big Bend National Park. This beautiful area on the Texas-Mexico border is a prime destination for hikers, bird watchers, photographers and nature lovers. Sounds like boomer adventure land to us! Deborah Lonergan explains why we should experience a Big Bend National Park hiking […]
Tips for a Natural Bridges National Monument Scenic Drive
Natural Bridges National Monument, located 35 miles west of Blanding, definitely qualifies as a hidden gem in southeast Utah. It’s a fun American Southwest adventure to add to your next road trip. The national monument offers hiking opportunities to three sandstone land bridges, as well as some of the darkest skies you’ll ever experience for […]
Traveling Off the Beaten Path in the Chiricahuas
We’re often asked about our favorite off-the-beaten-path travel experiences. In Arizona, that would have to be Chiricahua National Monument. Whether camping or RVing in Bonita Canyon campground or staying at nearby Sunglow Ranch, active travelers will get their fill of hikes, 4-wheel driving, exploring history or photographing the scenery in a less-crowded southeastern Arizona setting. […]
Visiting the North Rim at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
Are you a baby boomer who likes off-the-beaten-path adventure? Does a rugged, less-crowded National Park experience sound appealing? We recommend visiting the North Rim Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park? Here’s why: When Alan and I traveled to the North Rim Black Canyon of the Gunnison (official website) near Crawford, Colorado, we found isolation, […]
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