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National Parks for a Vacation

Image of mountainside on a sunny day.

You might have heard the concept of a “staycation”, which combines the words “stay” and “vacation” to form a word that suggests families stay near their homes to enjoy some rest and relaxation.

But how about the concept of a staycation within the United States, or finding some time to appreciate the beauty of one of our nation’s 63 national parks? Some may be close to your backyard, while others may be just a few states away.¹

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.” Psalm 118:23

When was the last time you visited?²
National Park
Total Visitors in 2022
Great Smoky Mountains National Park
12.94 Million
Grand Canyon National Park
4.73 Million
Zion National Park
4.69 Million
Rocky Mountain National Park
4.30 Million
Acadia National Park
3.97 Million
Yosemite National Park
3.29 Million
Yellowstone National Park
3.29 Million
Joshua Tree National Park
3.06 Million
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
2.91 Million
Glacier National Park
2.91 Million

 

Under the umbrella, “national park system,” there are several sites that should not be confused with national parks, such as national histories sites (such as the home of Franklin D. Roosevelt), and national memorials (such as Mount Rushmore and the Lincoln Memorial). National parks are areas set aside so that all of us can enjoy that stunning landscape with extraordinary, majestic forests. 

So, if you’re thinking about adding a national park to your vacation calendar, below are a few insights to keep in mind.³

Visit the website.

Every national park maintains a website that provides information specific to that park. The site will give updates on permits, passes, and any other information that you may need to know beforehand. The website will have updates on any restrictions, such as trail or road closures.

Entrance fees.

Most national parks require an entrance fee, which is usually somewhere between $20 and $30. If you are considering visiting more than one park during a year, you might consider an America the Beautiful annual pass. Also, keep in mind that entrance passes are free for US Military members and veterans, children in the 4th grade, and US citizens with disabilities.

Entrance reservations.

Some parks, such as Acadia and Yosemite, have timed entrance reservations during peak season. To enter the park, even for a short visit, you must have an advanced reservation.

Dog-friendly parks.

Only a handful of parks allow pets, so check the website.

Camping permits.

Campsite reservations can be hard to come by. Campsites can be reserved on recreation.gov, but not all national parks participate in this service. Some are on a first-come, first-serve basis.

  1. NPS.gov, 2023
  2. CNN.com, May 26th 2023
  3. BearFootTheory.com, April 11th 2023

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