Getting out in the fresh air and taking in the beauty of the great outdoors is a rewarding activity for many. Whether you go it alone or take the whole family, a trip away from home can be refreshing and exciting. Here are four things you should do before you finalize your plans to go see some of the country’s best parks.

Book Lodging Early

After you decide which parks you want to visit, finding lodging is one of the first things you will want to do for your trip. Some of the best places may book as far as a year in advance. If you are on a budget, then booking a trip with other family members can save money. For instance, renting a four-bedroom cabin with three other couples is an excellent way to travel as a couple. Plus, you can split the costs four ways.

Plan Sites to Visit

Pick a reason to see the park and use that to plan your trip. For example, if seeing the Grand Canyon is top on your list, then make sure to put this item at the top of the agenda. Then, you can add secondary things like popular historical sites or landmarks to the itinerary. If you cannot make it to the places on the bottom of the list, then everyone will still be happy for the opportunity to see the primary destinations. Do research into activities available in the areas you’ll be in as well, such has horseback tours, canoeing, ziplines, or hang gliding.

Find Park Apps

Since people love to post selfies, having your favorite social media apps on your phone will help you share the best photos. Using the park apps will give you inside information on seasonal changes, dates, and times for popular destinations near you. Another idea is to keep a few maps and brochures handy in case your wireless signal drops out.

Coordinate Your Visit With the Seasons

Many people think visiting the parks during the peak season is best, but stopping by just after this time can be more rewarding. There are generally fewer crowds in the off-season. National Geographic suggests visiting in September. If you have school-age children, then going late in the day or early in the morning can be the best time for a peaceful trip during peak season.

Talking to the park rangers when you arrive can help you find out if there are any problems like road closures or mudslides in the area. They can also help you find out what animals or sites you are most likely to see during your stay. Knowing how much to pack and which gear to bring is important to get the most out of your trip. Another idea is to stay at a lodge on the park grounds. You can always find out information from the locals who live near the area.

By Lizzie Weakley

Lizzie Weakley is a freelance writer from Columbus, Ohio. In her free time, she enjoys the outdoors and walks in the park with her three-year-old husky, Snowball.

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