National Park Travel for Boomers

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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.

Exploring a U.S. national park is one of our favorite boomer travel adventures. With 63 National Parks, you’re sure to find a fun travel adventure. 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 parks

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 travel adventures on this page. Or subscribe to the My Itchy Travel Feet Weekly Broadcast 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.

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.

Mountain lake with rocky mountain in the background

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!

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The Best Parks in Utah for Baby Boomers

What are the best parks in Utah for boomer travelers? All of them! Seriously, depending on interest and ability level, there’s a Utah national park experience for every active boomer. The best parks in Utah With 5 national parks and numerous national monuments, Utah is an active boomer traveler’s dream destination. On our Utah national […]

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On a May Crater Lake trip, see Crater Lake National Park dressed in snow.

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. 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. Little did we realize just how […]

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North Rim of the Grand Canyon

North Rim: The Grand Canyon’s other side

The North Rim of the Grand Canyon is my favorite. It’s less crowded. Plus a ponderosa pine forest leads right up to the edge, which gives this side of the canyon a totally different feel. Alan and I discovered the North Rim on a fall national park road trip that took us from Arizona to […]

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Grand Canyon's North Rim

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

Is driving Cape Royal Rd. on your Grand Canyon 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 drive with gorgeous views. If you’re a long time reader of My Itchy Travel Feet, then it’s no secret that the […]

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Hiking in Yosemite Park

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 […]

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Eight trails to hike in Yosemite

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 […]

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A geyser boils over in Yellowstone National Park

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 […]

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Oxbow Bend Grand Teton

A fall visit to Grand Teton National Park

Alan and I traveled to Grand Teton during an ambitious Western National Park road trip that 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 sky […]

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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? Hiking Hidden Falls in Grand Teton National Park near Jackson, Wyoming, does just that. Alan and I have hiked this popular Grand Teton trail twice—the longer Jenny Lake trail and the shorter […]

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White Sands Monument

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 […]

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Death Valley Travel

Death Valley Travel Tips for a Summer Visit

Although off-the-beaten-path travel usually leads to amazing experiences, the thought of spending time in a place called Death Valley could scare off even the hardiest of boomer travelers. Did you know that Death Valley is the hottest and driest national park in the US? Visiting a hostile environment like Death Valley, especially on a summer […]

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Mount Denali

Adventure Awaits in Alaska’s Denali Park

For anyone looking for an active travel destination, there’s simply no better place to experience active travel in Alaska. From expansive views of breathtaking landscape to local wildlife, the Last Frontier is really something unique. Today’s guest poster, photographer Dennis Calhoun, visually brings us one step into Alaska’s incredible Denali Park with his incredible photographs. […]

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

A Winter Trip to Glacier National Park

If you’re looking for things to do on a winter trip to Western Montana, add Glacier National Park to the list. Your itinerary will require a bit more planning than a summer road trip to Montana but those beautiful snowy scenes of Lake McDonald are worth it! Not everything will be open, including most of […]

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Visit Lamar Valley in the winter

Visiting Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley in the Winter

For years, I’ve wanted to visit Lamar Valley in the winter, especially to see wolves. 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 to vehicular traffic during Yellowstone’s winter season. And […]

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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.

Light shafts stream through a storm cloud illuminating a river that flows between green mountains

Active Fun in New River Gorge National Park

Are you looking for active fun 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 someone who’s “been […]

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dry tortugas day trip to fort jefferson

Tips for a Dry Tortugas National Park Day Trip from Key West, Florida

Are you a boomer traveler who enjoys a national park adventure? What about a remote trip that includes sailing to an off-the-beaten-path national park in Florida? 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 […]

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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 […]

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Hiking in Shendoah NP

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 […]

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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 […]

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A Visit to Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp for the Boomer Traveler

Visiting Okefenokee Swamp is for you, if you’re a fan of canoeing with alligators, birdwatching or cycling next to a lush, riparian landscape. We recommend Folkston as your headquarters. Out of all of the swamps in the world, Okefenokee Swamp certainly wins for the catchiest name. Known as one of the seven natural wonders of […]

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Off the beaten path National Parks

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.

arched cliffs in the sea

Exploring Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on a Trip to Michigan

 As you already know, we jump at any chance to explore our National Park System. 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 […]

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John Day Fossil Beds in eastern Oregon is a fun boomer travel adventure

Sifting Through History at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

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 […]

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Black Canyon of the Gunnison

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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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 […]

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river in canyon surrounded by mountain ridges

Explore Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area on a Wyoming Travel Adventure

Would you like to explore Bighorn Canyon? 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 from The Nomad’s Daughter, is here to […]

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El Morro National Monument

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 […]

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Rio Grande at Santa Elena Canyon

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 […]

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Mummys Cave

Exploring Canyon de Chelly on a four-wheel-drive adventure

What would you rather do? Peer down into a canyon from the rim drive or venture inside? If you chose being in the canyon, then we recommend exploring Canyon de Chelly by four-wheel-drive. For an introduction to off-roading, Canyon de Chelly National Monument near Chinlé, Arizona, offers baby boomers easy to moderate driving challenges in […]

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Stone Formations in Chiricahua National Monument

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. […]

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Haleakalā National Park travel

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 the tropical paradise of Hawaii is a popular destination for travelers. For those nature-loving travelers who like to get off […]

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Float Plane tour of Misty Fjords

Adventure Over Misty Fjords National Monument

When cruise ships dock in Ketchikan, Alaska, travelers choose from excursions that include bear watching, zip lining, ATV adventures in the coastal rainforest or simply walking around the colorful clapboard buildings that crowd the port. The rain-prone area is known for sports fishing, outdoor adventure, plentiful shopping and the remote Misty Fjords National Monument. When […]

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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. Unfortunately, Alan and I have yet to see them. What a shame! When our South Dakota road trip finally appears on the to do list, we’ll use the information that guest […]

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