These least-visited national parks in the U.S. have all of the beauty and none of the crowds
Currently, there are 63 national parks in the U.S., alongside countless more national monuments, national recreation areas, national seashores, and national historic sites overseen by the National Park Service (NPS). These protected spaces represent some of the most important natural and cultural landscapes in the country.
The NPS recently released its latest annual visitation data which will help us (and you) decide where to plan your next hike, whether you’re looking for a communal vibe, or a more secluded and isolated experience.
With almost 13 million visits last year, the Great Smoky Mountains remain undefeated when it comes to the most visitors of any national park. But other, no less spectacular parks see a fraction of those numbers. If you want to head off the beaten path, here are 21 of the least visited NPS service sites in the U.S.
Tumacácori National Historic Park
2022 visits: 38,786
The oldest Jesuit mission in Arizona has been preserved in Tumacácori National Historic Park, a picturesque reminder that Southern Arizona was, at one time, the far northern frontier of New Spain. The San Cayetano del Tumacácori Mission was established in 1691 by Spanish Jesuit priest Eusebio Francisco Kino, 29 miles north of Nogales beside the Santa Cruz River. Jesuit, and later Franciscan, priests ministered to the O’odham Indians and Spanish settlers until 1848.
Hubbell Trading Post is the oldest operating trading post in the Navajo Nation. The Arizona historical site sells basic traveling staples as well as Native American art just as it did during the late 1800s.
Aztec Ruins National Monument
State: New Mexico
2022 visits: 50,396
Aztec Ruins National Monument is the largest Ancestral Pueblo community in the Animas River Valley. In use for over 200 years, the site contains several multi-story buildings called great houses, each with a great kiva—a circular ceremonial chamber—as well as many smaller structures.
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site is the best-preserved iron plantation in North America. Hopewell Furnace consists of a mansion (the big house), spring and smokehouses, a blacksmith shop, an office store, a charcoal house, and a schoolhouse.
Rising 200 feet above the valley floor, this massive sandstone bluff was a welcome landmark for weary travelers. A reliable year-round source of drinking water at its base made El Morro a popular campsite in this otherwise rather arid and desolate country.At the base of the bluff—often called Inscription Rock—on sheltered smooth slabs of stone, are seven centuries of inscriptions covering human interaction with this spot.
The most noticeable natural features in Chiricahua National Monument are the rhyolite rock pinnacles for which the monument was created to protect. Rising sometimes hundreds of feet into the air, many of these pinnacles are balancing on a small base, seemingly ready to topple over at any time.
Cumberland Island National Seashore
2022 visits: 64,387
There is only one place on Earth where you can find wild horses, secluded white beaches, live oaks draped in Spanish moss, and the skeletal remains of a once-famous mansion. Cumberland is one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands along the Georgia coast. The National Park Service protects almost 36,000 acres of the island including miles of unspoiled beaches.
Site of the first significant American military victory during the Revolution, the Battle of Saratoga is considered among the most decisive battles in world history. Here in 1777 American forces met, defeated, and forced a major British army to surrender, an event which led France to recognize the independence of the United States and enter the war as a decisive military ally of the struggling Americans.
Natural Bridges National Monument
2022 visits: 71,249
Formed by the power of water in a place where water is all but absent, three stone bridges in the Utah desert have been protected as a national monument since 1908. Since natural bridges are formed by running water, they are much rarer than arches which result from a variety of other erosion forces. A nine mile one-way loop drive connects pull-outs and overlooks with views of the three huge multi-colored natural bridges.
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument contains an imposing four-story building dating from the late Hohokam period probably 14th century and contemporary with other well preserved ruins in Arizona such as the Tonto and Montezuma Castle national monuments. The structure was once part of a collection of settlements scattered along the Gila River and linked by a network of irrigation canals.
Appomattox Court House National Historical Park encompasses approximately 1,800 acres of rolling hills in rural central Virginia. The site includes the McLean home where Lee made his formal surrender and the village of Appomattox Court House, the former county seat for Appomattox County. The walking tour allows you to see all buildings which are original to the site, and have been restored to their original condition.
Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park tells the story of America’s 36th President beginning with his ancestors until his final resting place on his beloved LBJ Ranch. This entire circle of life gives the visitor a unique perspective into one of America’s most noteworthy citizens by providing the most complete picture of any American president.
Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site
State: New York
2022 visits: 100,665
See the place where Franklin D. Roosevelt was born and buried in Hyde Park at the Home of Franklin D. Roosevelt National Historic Site. The home is also the location of the first presidential library.
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site
State: South Dakota
2022 visits: 105,776
Commemorating the Cold War, Minuteman Missile National Historic Site offers visitors a history of the U.S. nuclear missile program and their hidden location in the Great Plains. The site details U.S. foreign policy and its push for nuclear disarmament.
Tuzigoot National Monument
2022 visits: 116,639
Built atop a small 120 foot ridge is a large pueblo. Tuzigoot is Apache for crooked water; however, it was built by the Sinagua. With 77 ground floor rooms this pueblo held about 50 people. After about 100 years the population doubled and then doubled again later. By the time they finished building the pueblo, it had 110 rooms including second and third story structures and housed 250 people.
The site of the Coronado National Monument features panoramic views of the United States-Mexico border and the San Pedro River Valley which was the route believed to have been taken by the Francisco Vásquez de Coronado expedition. If you’re interested in life in this region before the Coronado Expedition, take a tour of the Coronado Cave. For those looking to stay above ground, the scenic overlook at Montezuma Pass (elevation 6,575 feet) provides breathtaking views of the San Raphael Valley, the San Pedro Valley, and Mexico.
This stretch of desert marks the northern range of the organ pipe cactus, a rare species in the U.S. The organ pipe cactus can live to over 150 years in age, have up to 100 arms, reach 25 feet in height, and will only produce their first flower near the age of 35.
Ocmulgee Mounds National Historical Park in Macon is a significant Native American landmark dating back over 10,000 years. Visitors can learn about the Mississippian culture, climb atop the seven mounds, and even go inside one of the mounds’ Earth Lodge. Eight miles of walking trails wind through the park including by the namesake river. The park is making efforts to become a national park and hosts annual events like the fall Ocmulgee Indian Celebration (31st annual; September 16-17, 2023).
El Malpais National Monument
State: New Mexico
2022 visits: 162,755
The richly diverse volcanic landscape of El Malpais National Monument offers solitude, recreation, and discovery. There’s something for everyone here. Explore cinder cones, lava tube caves, sandstone bluffs, and hiking trails. Known as the badlands in Spanish, El Malpais was used by early Spanish map makers to describe areas of volcanic terrain. El Malpais preserves an ancient volcanic landscape and a history of human habitation.
Some of the tallest trees on the east coast are located inside Congaree which was named after the Native American tribe that used to reside in the area. Unlike many hardwood forests, Congaree was largely spared by the lumber industry in the late 1800s and was eventually designated as a national monument and then a national park. The terrain includes the forest, the Congaree River, and the floodplain.
Cowpens National Battlefield commemorates a decisive battle that helped turn the tide of war in the Southern Campaign of the American Revolution. On this field on January 17, 1781, Daniel Morgan led his army of tough Continentals, militia, and cavalry to a brilliant victory over Banastre Tarleton’s force of British regulars. The battle at the Cow Pens is one of only a few successful double envelopments in history.
These 21 lesser-known and visited parks have minimal visitors, plenty to do, and much-needed peace and quiet. Consider adding these least-visited national parks to your 2023 list of road trip destinations.
When your spirit cries for peace, come to a world of canyons deep in an old land; feel the exultation of high plateaus, the strength of moving wasters, the simplicity of sand and grass, and the silence of growth.
If you are seeking the best national parks to visit in April, this guide’s for you! It will detail eight beautiful National Parks to visit in April, why you should go to them, and what to expect during this month.
The national parks are a treasure—beautiful, wild, and full of wonders to see. But there’s more to experience than taking in gorgeous scenery from your vehicle or lookout points. National parks are natural playgrounds, full of possible adventures.
The most famous National Park Service (NPS) offerings are the 63 national parks including Arches, Great Smoky Mountains, and Grand Canyon. But 424 NPS units across the country also include national monuments, seashores, recreation areas, battlefields, and memorials. These sites are outside the main focus of this guide.
Planning a trip to America’s national parks in April but don’t know which ones to visit? April brings warmer temperatures to most of the US. Travel begins to pick up during this month both because of the warmer weather and because families are hitting the road for spring break. There are many great national parks to visit in April that I cover in this guide plus six bonus parks and a road trip that links several of these parks together.
About this National Park series
This guide is part of a series about the best national parks to visit each month. In this series, every national park is listed at least once and many are listed multiple times. It is a series of 12 articles, one for each month of the year.
These articles take into account weather, crowd levels, the best time to go hiking, special events, road closures, and my personal experiences in the parks. Based on these factors, I picked out what I think are the optimal times to visit each park. Since I haven’t been to all of the national parks I include only the parks we have visited on at lease one occasion.
For an overview of the best time to visit each national park, check out my Best National Parks by Season guide. This guide will cover the best time to visit each national park based on these factors. First are the links to my posts about the best parks to visit, month-by-month. This is followed by a list that illustrates the best time to visit each national park based on weather and crowd levels. Please note this overview will be posted following the completion of this 12 month guide in February 2024.
And at the end of this article, I have links to the other guides in my Best National Parks by Month series.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The information I provide for each national park does not include temporary road closures since these dates are constantly changing. Roads can close in the national parks at any time so I recommend getting updates on the National Park Service website while planning your trip.
Visiting the National Parks in April
If you are seeking the best national parks to visit in April, this guide’s for you! It will detail eight beautiful National Parks to visit in April, why you should go to them, and what to expect during this month.
April is a big month for spring break travel. The warmer weather also draws more crowds now that much of the country is warming up.
That warmer weather means that a bunch of parks are now warm enough to visit without facing freezing temperatures and the chance of snow. For the most part, you won’t need a warm coat and gloves to visit the majority of the national parks on this list and in some places, shorts and a t-shirt is what you’ll be packing in your RV.
If you want to visit the national parks with great weather and lower crowds that flood the parks in the summer months, April is a great time to plan your trip.
1. Grand Canyon National Park
People from around the world travel to the Grand Canyon, making it one of the most visited national parks in the U.S. It also makes the list of Seven Natural Wonders of the World and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For millions of years, the Colorado River has been carving out this massive canyon. Grand Canyon National Park is enormous and with four rims to visit, there are many different ways to visit this park.
In April, the North Rim is not yet open (it typically opens in mid-May). The South Rim is the most spectacular area of the park to visit in April with sweeping, iconic views of the Grand Canyon and several epic hiking trails to choose from.
Why visit the Grand Canyon in April: In April, daytime highs finally climb up into the 60s and with a low chance of rain the weather is very pleasant this time of year. Crowds are large in April but not as big as they are in the summer months so if you want good weather and lower crowds, April is a good time to visit the Grand Canyon. This is also one of the best times to go hiking in the Grand Canyon since the days are cool, rainfall is low, and you have over 12 hours of daylight.
Weather: The average high is 61°F and the average low is 29°F. April is one of the driest months of the year to visit the Grand Canyon.
Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 5:50 am and sunset is at 7 pm.
Top experiences: Visit the South Rim viewpoints, watch the sunset, hike below the rim on the Bright Angel or South Kaibab Trail, raft the Colorado River, and take a flightseeing tour or a ranger-guided tour.
Ultimate adventure: Hike below the rim of the Grand Canyon. You can either hike a portion of the South Kaibab or Bright Angel trails out-and-back or combine them into one big loop. Called the rim to river to rim hike, only those who are very fit with lots of hiking experience should attempt it.
How many days do you need? I recommend spending three to four days on the South Rim to visit the highlights. Four days gives you enough time to visit the best overlooks on the South Rim, go on a helicopter ride, and spend some time hiking below the rim.
Badlands National Park is a highly underrated park in the United States.
The colorful buttes, spires, and pinnacles create one of the most photogenic landscapes in the country (it’s the feature photo for this article). Bison and bighorn sheep roam the largest mixed-grass prairie in the United States. The sunrises and sunsets are magical, the hiking trails are short and sweet, and for those looking for more solitude, you can take your pick from a handful of backcountry experiences.
Why visit Badlands in April: In April, the weather is getting warmer and this is the last quiet month in the park before visitation really picks up. In 2022, 35,000 people visited Badlands in April and this number jumped to 100,000 in May and increased throughout the summer months. So, in April, you can take advantage of good weather and low crowds.
Weather: The average high is 62°F and the average low is 35°F. April is the start of the rainy season. March is drier but with low temperatures and the chance of snow, I think April is a better time to visit.
Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6 am and sunset is at 7:30 pm.
Top experiences: Drive Badlands Loop Road and visit the overlooks, watch the sunrise and/or the sunset, hike the Notch Trail, hike the Door and Fossil Exhibit Trails, drive Sage Creek Rim Road, visit Roberts Prairie Dog Town, hike the Castle Trail, and count how many bison you can find.
Ultimate adventure: For the ultimate experience, venture into the backcountry. In Badlands National Park, you are permitted to hike off-trail and the Sage Creek Wilderness and Deer Haven Wilderness are great places to go hiking and spot wildlife.
How many days do you need? One day in Badlands National Park gives you just enough time to visit the highlights and hike a few short trails. Make sure you catch either sunrise or sunset in the park because these are one of the best times of day to look out across the landscape. To explore beyond the basics plan a second day.
Big Bend National Park is located in southwestern Texas. It bumps up against Mexico and the Rio Grande forms the border between Mexico and Big Bend National Park. Big Bend gets its name from the prominent bend in the Rio Grande on this border.
This national park protects the largest area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the US as well as the Chisos Mountains. Big Bend is a top hiking destination in with trails leading high into these mountains and into canyons along the Rio Grande.
Why visit Big Bend in April: In April, crowds are diminishing (March tends to be the busiest month of the year to visit Big Bend) and the weather is warm and sunny. However, if you are here during a heat wave temperatures can get up into the 90s, even reaching 100 degrees, so early April is the better time of the month to visit in order to avoid these hotter temperatures. By May, this park really begins to heat up.
Weather: The average high is 82°F and the average low is 54°F. Rainfall is very low.
Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 7:30 am and sunset is at 8:20 pm.
Top experiences: Hike the Lost Mine Trail, go star gazing, hike Santa Elena Canyon, go for a drive on Maxwell Scenic Drive, visit Boquillas del Carmen, hike to Balanced Rock, and hike to Emory Peak, the highest peak in the Chisos Mountains.
Ultimate adventure: For the ultimate adventure in Big Bend, go on a half-day to multi-day canoeing trip on the Rio Grande.
How much time do you need? Spend at least three to four days in the park. Because of its large size and remote location, it takes a while to get here and you need a few days to explore it, so four days should work for most people.
Canyonlands National Park is both the largest and the least visited national park in Utah. I also think that it is one of the most underrated national parks.
This enormous national park preserves the canyons, buttes, and mesas that have been carved out by the Colorado and Green Rivers.
Enjoy the overlooks at Island in the Sky, go hiking in The Needles, drive the White Rim Road, and photograph Mesa Arch at sunrise. The list of things to do here is long and wonderful whether you prefer to visit the overlooks, hike a trail or two, or venture into the backcountry.
Why visit Canyonlands in April: The weather is great for hiking and exploring and the crowd levels are increasing but not yet near their peak for the year.
Weather: The average high is 62°F and the average low is 40°F. Rainfall is very low.
Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6:40 am and sunset is at 8 pm.
Top experiences: Visit the overlooks on Island in the Sky, watch the sunrise at Mesa Arch, go hiking in The Needle, drive Shafer Canyon Road, hike below the rim of the Island in the Sky mesa, and explore The Maze.
Ultimate adventure: Drive or mountain bike the White Rim Road. This is a 100-mile unpaved road that makes a loop around the Island in the Sky mesa. It takes 2 to 3 days to do this drive.
How much time do you need? You need at least two full days in Canyonlands National Park. Spend one day in Island in the Sky and one day in the Needles. But more time is better if you want to venture deeper into the park.
Petrified Forest National Park is small and easy to visit. This park is named for the petrified wood that dates back millions of years to a time when this land was lush and fertile.
But there is more to this park than looking at chunks of crystallized wood. The Painted Desert and the Blue Forest with their colorful, zebra-striped hills are a beautiful sight to see and they are very similar to Badlands National Park, mentioned earlier. There are also a few great trails to hike which are perfect for all ages and ability levels.
Petrified Forest is another park that can go on the underrated national parks list.
Why visit Petrified Forest in April: With highs near 70°F, this is one of the best months to visit Petrified Forest with regards to weather. It also makes a great addition to an Arizona or American Southwest road trip if you also plan to visit places like Monument Valley, Sedona, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Weather: The average high is 68°F and the average low is 35°F. Rainfall is very low.
Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 5:45 am and sunset is at 6:50 pm.
Top experiences: View the Painted Desert from the overlooks, see the petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock, see the Teepees on Petrified Forest Road, hike the Blue Mesa Trail, and see the petrified wood at Crystal Forest and along the Giant Logs Trail.
Ultimate adventure: The Blue Forest hike is a favorite experience in Petrified Forest National Park. This 3-mile trail takes you through the badlands, one of the most beautiful parts of the park.
How much time do you need? One day is plenty of time to drive through the park, visit the overlooks, and hike a few short trails but I recommend a second day to explore hikes you missed on the first day.
With beautiful scenic drives, thrilling hikes, historical sites, backcountry roads, slot canyons, and unique desert landscapes, Capitol Reef National Park is an unexpectedly amazing national park to visit.
If you love the idea of leaving the crowds behind and exploring a vast, remote area, you have several options. Cathedral Valley with its sandstone monoliths and sweeping desert vistas is a beautiful, unique way to spend one day in Capitol Reef. Or you can Loop the Fold, another remote driving day along the waterpocket fold.
There are also slot canyons to explore, low-traffic hiking trails in remote areas of the park, and some of the most dramatic landscapes in Utah which you can see right from your car.
Why visit Capitol Reef in April: Because the weather is pretty close to perfect. In April, Capitol Reef gets an uptick in visitation but it’s not as busy as it will be in May and June.
Weather: The average high is 65°F and the average low is 39°F. Rainfall is very low.
Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6:50 am and sunset is at 8 pm.
Top experiences: Drive the 16-mile round-trip drive along Scenic Drive, drive Capitol Gorge Road, hike to Hickman Bridge, and watch the sunset from Sunset Point, hike to Cassidy Arch, and Loop the Fold.
Ultimate adventure: For the ultimate adventure, drive the Cathedral Valley Loop. This rugged, remote district of Capitol Reef National Park is one of the best backcountry experiences in the national parks if you like exploring by 4WD.
How much time do you need? Plan to spend three to four days in Capitol Reef. This gives you enough time to explore and hike the trails in the core of the park (along Scenic Drive and Highway 24) and venture into the backcountry either in Cathedral Valley or by looping the fold.
Pinnacles National Park protects the mountains on the eastern end of Salinas Valley. These mountains are the remnants of an extinct volcano. The rocky pinnacles are a popular rock climbing destination and wildflowers in the spring draw the biggest crowds of the year. This park is also one of the few locations where you can spot the California condor in the wild.
Why visit Pinnacles in April: April is the best month to visit Pinnacles to see the wildflowers in bloom. Plus, the weather is fabulous.
Weather: In April, the average high is 72°F and the average low is 39°F. Rainfall is low.
Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6:30 am and sunset is at 7:40 pm.
Top experiences: See the wildflowers in the spring, hike the High Peaks Loop, hike the Bear Gulch Cave Trail, explore the Balconies cave, spot California condors, enjoy the view from Condor Gulch Overlook, and go rock climbing.
How much time do you need? Pinnacles National Park can be visited in one busy day but for the best experience spend two days here which gives you enough time to visit both sections of the park.
Bryce Canyon National Park is small and easy to visit. With several days, you can hike through a garden of hoodoos, take in the view from multiple viewpoints, and thoroughly explore the park.
What’s a hoodoo?Hoodoo can also be defined as a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin. Geologically, hoodoos are found all around the world but they occur in the most abundance in Bryce Canyon. Here, hoodoos are the main ingredient of this unique landscape. The thousands of hoodoos in Bryce are what attract so many visitors every year.
Why visit Bryce Canyon in April: April is the end of the shoulder season in Bryce Canyon when the weather is cool and park visitation is still relatively low for the year. Go now, because in May, this park really begins to get busy.
Weather: In April, the average temperature is 54°F and the average low is 29°F. There is a small chance of snow in April.
Sunrise & sunset: Sunrise is at 6:50 am and sunset is at 8 pm.
Top experiences: Some of the best viewpoints are right along the rim and easily accessible by car or the seasonal shuttle (mid-April to mid-September): Sunrise Point, Sunset Point, Inspiration Point, and Bryce Point. Hike the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop, a 3-mile hike past some of the best scenery in the park. Rainbow Point and Yovimpa Point are also nice viewpoints.
Ultimate adventure: Hike the Fairyland Loop Trail, an 8-mile strenuous hike.
How much time do you need? One day is all you need to see the views from the rim and hike one to two short trails in the park. I recommend another day or two for additional time to hike into the canyon. You won’t regret it
Arches National Park is a great place to visit in April. The weather is perfect but higher crowd levels kept if off of the list above. However, if you are planning a visit to Canyonlands or the other national parks in Utah, its worth including Arches on your list just get an early start and expect busy parking lots and hiking trails.
In April, the weather is just about perfect…daily highs of 75°F and one of the driest months of the year. However, those mosquitoes are starting to arrive and by the end of the month, the mosquito meter at Congaree with be ticking up to the mild to moderate levels.
You can see many of Canyon de Chelly’s top sights from the rim roads, but you’ll get a deeper understanding of its significance on a jeep tour with a Navajo guide. The only self-guided hike, the White House Trail, zigzags 600 feet down (and back up) to the spectacular White House ruins. Don’t miss the staggeringly tall spire known as Spider Rock; it rises 830 feet from the canyon floor.
The amazing force of water has cut three spectacular natural bridges in White Canyon at Natural Bridges National Monument. These stunning rock bridges have Hopi Indian names: delicate Owachomo means rock mounds, massive Kachina means dancer while Sipapu, the second largest natural bridge in the state, means place of emergence. A nine-mile scenic drive overlooks the bridges, canyons, and a touch of history with ancient Puebloan ruins.
Encompassing over 1.25 million acres, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area stretches for hundreds of miles from Lees Ferry in Arizona to the Orange Cliffs of southern Utah. Outdoor activities are what Glen Canyon is all about. There is something for everyone’s taste.
Cumberland Island National Seashore includes one of the largest undeveloped barrier islands in the world. The park is home to a herd of feral, free-ranging horses. Most visitors come to Cumberland for the natural glories, serenity, and fascinating history. Built by the Carnegies, the ruins of the opulent 59-room, Queen Anne-style Dungeness are a must-see for visitors.
April road trip idea
With 10 days, go on a road trip through four of the national parks in Utah—Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon, and Arches National Park. This itinerary is perfect if you are looking for adventure, solitude, and unforgettable experiences. You also have enough time to journey into the backcountry where the real adventures await.
Big Bend is a long way from anywhere and that’s exactly why folks love it
Picking a national park is all about setting: Do you want deserts, forests, mountains, or water? Since everything’s bigger in Texas, Big Bend National Park has it all. Cacti-strewn deserts shift to the wooded slopes of imposing mountains before again changing to spectacular river canons where greenish water flows.
You can find Big Bend right next to the border, close to the Mexican states of Chihuahua and Coahuila. Texas’s biggest (and bendiest) national park spans over 800,000 acres and holds the largest protected area of the Chihuahuan Desert in the US. Which means it’s a journey to get to.
As is the standard way of getting places in Texas, arriving at the natural marvel requires good driving, so get those road trip snacks and playlists ready.
Big Bend’s remoteness is one of its main attractions. Isolated and vast, this park embodies what’s so captivating about West Texas: It’s a quiet place where you can easily find solitude and appreciate what it means to be such a small part of our big, beautiful universe.
In the last couple of years, more and more people have been making the trip to experience Big Bend’s magic—a true testament to its wonders given the aforementioned distance that must be traversed to get there. In 2021, the park welcomed a record number of visitors: 581,221 to be exact. That’s quite something, considering that just 1,400 visitors came in 1944, the year the park first opened. And that number looks even better when you take into account the couple million that head to the most crowded national parks.
If you’re ready to see for yourself what the big deal is about Big Bend, here’s what you need to know to make the most out of your trip.
Know when not to go
Since Big Bend hugs a portion of the Texas-Mexico border, it should come as no surprise that summers here can get scorching. From June through August, the temperature can easily reach the 90s in some parts of the park. Some is worth specifying because temperatures by the river and in the park’s low desert areas can be around 10 to 20 degrees warmer than areas in the mountains.
Factoring that in, the best time to visit the park is sometime between October and April when the weather is cooler and you can camp and hike without sweating buckets. Needless to say, the holiday weeks and weekends during this stretch (Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break, etc.) are when people come in droves, so unless you want to deal with the crowds, it’s best to steer clear of those specific periods.
Speaking of crowds, timing your trip to avoid the park’s busiest periods isn’t just making your communing with nature as peaceful as possible—it affects logistics too. Since there’s limited parking at the most popular spots there are times when it becomes “one-in, one-out” to control the traffic. Who wants to wait for some people to finish their fun before you can have yours?
Choose your own adventure through deserts, water, or mountains
Some people refer to Big Bend National Park as three parks in one because of its distinct environments: desert, mountain, and river. While the Chihuahuan Desert covers a majority of the park’s area, the dramatic mountain portion of the park (which would be the Chisos Mountains) runs right through its middle. The river environments, meanwhile, exist along the twisty Rio Grande which marks the park’s winding, southern border.
Fun fact: The Chios is the only mountain range in the US that’s completely contained within a single national park.
When tackling this wide-ranging landscape, you might be comforted to know that Big Bend has not one, not two, but five visitor centers. Northernmost is Persimmon Gap Visitor Center which is the first one you’ll hit if you’re driving into the park through the town of Marathon. Next is Panther Junction Visitor Center which is considered the main visitor center and functions as the park headquarters with a post office. Also at the heart of the park is the Chisos Basin Visitor Center which serves as a great starting point for some of Big Bend’s best hikes. Then there’s the Castolon Visitor Center in the west and the Rio Grande Village Visitor Center in the east.
Must-do hikes amid towering rocks
So where should you even begin hiking when the park has over 150 miles of trails to explore? One way to narrow it down is to decide if you want to be in the desert, amid the mountains, or by the river.
For those who want to experience the enchantment of the Chihuahuan Desert, the Chimneys Trail is an essential option. This moderately difficult trail is 4.8 miles total, there and back, and delivers you to the aforementioned “chimneys,” a stretch of volcanic dike formations (if you want to get all technical about it) looking like strange, rocky pillars. One of the coolest things about this hike is not necessarily what you pass along the way but what you can see when you reach your destination: millennia-old pictographs and petroglyphs on the rock face of one of the chimneys.
If the mountains are calling your name, then you’re in for a real treat with the South Rim trail. There’s no denying that this hike is a difficult one. It’s 12 to 14.5 miles round trip plus there’s a 2,000-feet elevation gain—but anyone who takes on the challenge will be rewarded with absolutely incredible views of the undulating peaks and valleys of the Chihuahuan Desert all the way to Mexico. Many would agree it’s the most scenic hike in the whole park. If you have enough energy tack on the side trip to Emory Peak, the highest point in the Chisos Mountains and you’ll feel like you’re on top of the world.
Anyone who is soothed by the tranquil sight and sound of water as they hike must do the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. Its low effort and high reward with this one, seeing as it’s just 1.7 miles round trip of relatively easy walking. The views are frankly stunning as you find yourself flanked by looming canyon walls and the river cuts its way through the impressive rock formations. If ever there was a classic Big Bend photo op, it’s here.
See miles of scenic roads and countless stars
Aside from hiking, another way to enjoy this massive park is just by driving its various scenic roads. For example, the 30-mile-long Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive holds up to its name taking you by noteworthy spots like the Mules Ears viewpoint (where you can see two jagged rock formations that jut up resembling donkey’s ears), Sam Nail Ranch (a historic homestead built in 1916), and Santa Elena Canyon (get those cameras ready).
If you have a high-clearance 4WD vehicle you can check out the most remote part of the already very remote Big Bend by driving the 51 miles of the River Road. Don’t get confused by the name—you won’t get to see the Rio Grande along the way but the rough road does generally follow its curves. Remember though, off-road driving isn’t allowed.
Stargazing is another must-do while visiting Big Bend. Not only is the park designated as an International Dark Sky Park but according to the NPS website it actually has the least light pollution of any national park in the continental United States. Basically, you won’t have to try very hard or go anywhere special to witness the dazzling display but one particularly lovely way to go about it is to spend an evening soaking in the warm water at the Hot Springs and looking up at all that beauty above.
Where to stay in and around Big Bend
Since it takes a long time to reach the park—and then once there, you can spend a good amount of time just getting around within the park—it’s not a good idea to expect to find a campsite when you arrive; booking in advance is crucial if you plan on camping at Big Bend. Seriously, reservations for the developed campgrounds are required. These campgrounds are pretty much guaranteed to be full every night from November through April and there’s no first-come, first-serve situation here.
You definitely don’t want to be that person who just spent who knows how many hours driving to Big Bend to realize you’ll have to drive an hour or more back out to find somewhere to stay because there are no overflow campsites. And don’t even think about setting up camp in a parking lot or along the park roads, because you will get in trouble—sorry ‘bout it.
So, on to the options. For camping within Big Bend, you have four developed campgrounds to choose from: Chisos Basin, Rio Grande Village, Cottonwood, and Rio Grande Village RV Park. You can book your site up to six months in advance, so get to planning. If you’re someone who waits a little bit longer before making a move, there are a limited number of sites available for reservation up to 14 days in advance, but again—planning ahead pays big time with this out-of-the-way national park. There are also backcountry campsites, and you’ll need a permit for those.
If there are no developed campsites within the park available during the time of your planned visit, don’t assume your big Big Bend camping adventure is dashed. There are still some camping options outside the park in nearby areas like Study Butte, Terlingua, and Lajitas.
Want to be in the heart of the action but rather not rough it? Then check out the Chisos Mountains Lodge with its simple but comfortable rooms and cottages. It’s actually the only lodging available in the whole park so really it’s either that or staying somewhere outside the park. In terms of the latter, you can find some pretty cool accommodations in Terlingua like cute casitas, unique tipis, vintage trailers, and luxurious bubble domes.
Big Bend is a land of strong beauty—often savage and always imposing.
The number-one national park alone counted almost 13 million visitors last year
The 424 sites administered by the National Park Service (NPS) continued to rebound from the pandemic last year and a perennial favorite once again landed in the top spot for a most visited site for 2022.
Almost 312 million recreation visits were logged by the NPS in 2022 which is closing in on the pre-pandemic 2019 numbers of roughly 327.5 million visits.
The NPS also labored in 2022 to avoid the long lines and temporary closings at many of the marquee parks that marred the 2021 experience for many.
“We’re excited to see our efforts to increase visitation to parks in the off-season and in parks that are less well-known paying off,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said in an online statement last week.
“Many parks with record visitation in 2022 are on what we would call the road less traveled.”
With 63 national parks across its states and territories, the US has plenty of options when it comes to outdoor activities and exploration. Whether you want to immerse yourself in nature or discover some of the country’s most iconic landmarks, national parks have got your back.
Some of them, though, are usually much busier than others and if you’re looking to be away from everything and everyone for a spell, you might want to stay away from the most frequented ones. Last week, the National Park Service (NPS) released its latest annual visitation data which will help us (and you) decide where to plan your next hike, whether you’re looking for a communal vibe or a more secluded and isolated experience.
With almost 13 million visits last year, the Great Smoky Mountains remain undefeated when it comes to the most visitors of any national park. The park drew in slightly fewer visitors compared to its 2021 numbers, though, when it had 14.1 million recorded visits.
The Grand Canyon came in second thanks to its iconic red landscape though it came quite a bit short of the Great Smoky Mountains’ popularity. In 2022, it racked up nearly 5 million visitors which is nearly 8 million short of the leading park.
Third on the list was Zion National Park. Located in Utah, it’s a great park to visit both in the winter and summer seasons and it offers a variety of trails to hike with gorgeous views and great terrain. According to the NPS, Zion welcomed 4,692,417 visitors in 2022.
Top 10 most visited NPS sites in 2022
Just two sites—one a long, scenic parkway in the East and the other a recreational area in a populous West Coast metro—–accounted for around 10 percent of all visits to all sites. The top 10 for 2022:
As we mentioned earlier, though, you might be looking for less crowded parks to enjoy your own company and that of nature. These are the 10 least-visited national parks according to the numbers:
1. National Park of American Samoa: 1,887 visits
2. Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve: 9,457 visits
3. Kobuk Valley National Park: 16,925 visits
4. Lake Clark National Park & Preserve: 18,187 visits
5. Isle Royale National Park: 25,454 visits
6. North Cascades National Park: 30,154 visits
7. Katmai National Park & Preserve: 33,908 visits
8. Wrangell-St. Elias National Park & Preserve: 65,236 visits
9. Dry Tortugas National Park: 78,488 visits
10. Great Basin National Park: 142,115 visits
A few more tidbits
The NPS report is full of interesting insights into who goes where and why. A few highlights:
331 better chances at some solitude
Despite the NPS’ success at spreading out the throngs to less-visited places, a small number of sites continue to dominate. In fact, the top eight sites in the entire system accounted for a whopping 26 percent of all NPS recreational visits in 2022.
Meanwhile, 331 NPS sites accounted for just 25 percent of all visits.
That’s something to consider when you’re pondering where to go, especially if you’re not fond of crowds, full parking lots and signing up for reservations.
Types of parks people visit
It turns out Americans (and visitors to the US) are a pretty well-rounded bunch.
Some 38 percent of people go to recreational parks. Another 32 percent go to cultural and historical parks. And finally, 30 percent of folks go to nature parks, according to the NPS.
Astounding stats from the NPS
A total of 75 sites hosted 1 million or more recreational visits in 2022. The last place to nab a million or more was Badlands National Park in South Dakota with 1,006,809 visits.
NPS sites have enduring appeal. More than 15.7 billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) have visited since 1904.
Campers unite! More than 13 million overnight visitations were logged in 2022.
The granddaddy of national parks and arguably the most famous, Yellowstone ranks only 25th in most visits of all NPS sites. It’s edged out by the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial which was dedicated in 1997 in Washington, DC. Yellowstone is No. 7 among the 63 headliner national parks for 2022.
However one reaches the parks, the main thing is to slow down and absorb the natural wonders at leisure.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park contains more than 119 limestone caves that are outstanding in the profusion, diversity, and beauty of their formations
Art takes nature as its model.
Our adventures march on and become more and more surreal. One day we’re touring the UFO Museum in Roswell and the very next day we are standing inside our home planet, 750 feet underground beneath the Earth’s surface.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park can most adequately be described as living artwork. The stalactites hang from the ceiling like delicate chandeliers, the stalagmites rise from the ground like a forest of trees, and holding it all together is a limestone container—it’s a little like being inside of a geological cantaloupe.
First discovered by a curious teenager in 1898, Carlsbad Cavern is an incredible underground limestone cave in the Guadalupe Mountains of southeastern New Mexico, just north of the Texas border. The park is located 18 miles south of Carlsbad.
The closest nearby town is Whites City which is just outside the park’s entrance. Other cities in the area include Loving and Artesia. Some travelers may also choose to stay in or visit one of the tiny Texas towns outside the park such as Pine Springs or Orla. And for those interested in extraterrestrial life, the town of Roswell where a UFO supposedly crashed in 1947 is about an hour and a half north of the park.
Carlsbad Caverns Highway is the only road to access the park. The seven-mile access road is right off of U.S. Highway 62/180 in Whites City.
There’s no overnight RV camping at Carlsbad Caverns National Park so you’ll need to make reservations at one of the private campgrounds in the area. However, the park does have plenty of RV parking available during the daytime in the front visitor center parking lot.
The national park contains over 119 limestone caves surrounded by the vast beauty of the Chihuahuan Desert. Each year, about 400,000 people visit Carlsbad Caverns National Park to see the fossilized caverns or spot the thousands of Brazilian free-tailed bats that inhabit the park. Several hiking trails and a picnic area are also available for visitors.
The main attraction of this national park is the show cave—the Carlsbad Cavern (and the Big Room in particular). Unlike most caves around the nation, one does not need a guided tour to explore the cave—visitors can walk on their own through the natural entrance or take an elevator from the visitor center.
Visitors can choose between the steep paved trail making its way down into the cave or the elevator directly down to the Big Room Trail. The 1.25-mile long Natural Entrance Trail is extremely steep (it gains or loses) around 750 feet in elevation. This is equivalent to walking up a 75-story building. It takes about an hour to complete. Once down in the caves there is the Big Room Trail leading to the popular Big Room.
This is also 1.25 miles long but is relatively flat. It takes around 1.5 hours to walk it. If that seems a bit of a hike there is a shortcut that reduces the walking distance to around 0.6 miles and cuts the hiking time to around 45 minutes.
The unmistakable Big Room is the largest single chamber in North America and the undisputed star of this park. The variety and quantity of sculptures of tubes, spires, ribbons, drapes, curtains, stalagmites, stalactites, totem poles, soda straws, and other fantastic sounding organic shapes inside the 8-acre room forms a grand gallery of art. If you look long enough, your visual understanding of it evolves. A visit is like attending an unveiling of a master work by the greatest artist on Earth—Nature.
Weather at the park can be quite hot during the day, but don’t be deceived. The temperature inside Carlsbad Cavern is a consistent 56 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year giving visitors a chance to cool off—so be sure to bring a jacket along with you.
In the summers, temperatures can rise into the 90s and sometimes into the low 100s before cooling off to temps in the low 60s at night. Fall brings pleasant temperatures in the 70s during the day and lows that drop from the high 50s in September all the way down to the high 30s in November. Winters at the park are fairly mild ranging from highs in the mid-50s to lows typically no colder than the low 30s. One of the best times to visit the park is during the spring when temperatures warm up to the 60s and 70s during the day.
Carlsbad Caverns National Park has a number of regularly scheduled events throughout the year including the popular bat flight program. Every night at 6:30 p.m. from Memorial Day weekend through October, visitors are invited to watch the park’s Brazilian free-tailed bats fly from the cavern at sunset. A park ranger guides the tour which is free and available without reservations although no cell phones, cameras, or other electronic devices are permitted.
During certain times of the year you can also reserve a spot for the guided star walks and moon hikes after the bat flight program. These free hikes are designed for stargazing and are first come, first serve with a maximum of 25 participants.
Size: 46,766 acres
Date established: May 14, 1930
Location: Southeast New Mexico in the Guadalupe Mountains range
Park Elevation: 3,596 feet to 6,368 feet, visitor center is at 4,406 feet
Park entrance fee: $15 per person
Recreational visits (2021): 349,244
How the park got its name: Carlsbad Caverns National Park was named after the town it resides near. The name Carlsbad was adopted in America (Carlsbad in San Diego is another to coin the name) during the late 19th century to mirror the elite European spa, Karlsbad in what was then Bohemia (now the Czech Republic.)
Accessible adventure: Explore the cave system with a ranger on one of the guided adventures and see areas that are otherwise not accessible including King’s Palace, the Left Hand Tunnel, and the Spider Cave. In some you will crawl, some you will carry a lantern, some you will climb down a ladder into the darkness—in all, you’ll have unusual underground fun. Group-led adventures are a great way to learn more than you ever could on a self-guided tour. Ranger guides are a wealth of knowledge and are happy when people show active interest in the parks—worthy of tapping into by asking great questions.
If caving isn’t your thing, the nearby above-ground Rattlesnake Springs Historic District picnic area provides a place to kick back and take in the incredible desert landscape of the Guadalupe Mountains and remnants of the ancient barrier reef that exists there.
Big adventure: The self-guided Natural Entrance trail descends 750-feet down a paved pathway on a 1¼ mile trail that was blazed before you by early explorers of the Caverns (sans cement of course.) This first section gives you a real sense of what it feels like to be underground.
Continuing onto the second portion of the trail and you will find yourself in the “Big Room,” a flat 1¼ mile walking path that brings you face-to-face with ornately carved drapes, stalactites, stalagmites, spires, and other limestone formations.
Know before you go: Elevator access from the visitor center to the famed Big Room has been out of commission since November of 2015 and a repair date is still being determined. At the time of writing this, there is only one way to get to this room located 750 feet beneath the Natural Entrance and that is on foot. Big adventure indeed, the climb down is steep and the climb back to the top is strenuous with no alternative route.
Did you know?
The Carlsbad Caverns Park entrance is located just 25 miles from Guadalupe Mountains National Park across the Texas state line. The Guadalupe Mountain range itself is home to both parks.
Carlsbad Caverns has 30 miles of mapped caves. Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky is home to the largest known cave system on Earth with more than 405 miles.
Unlike many other caves, tripod photography is welcome at Carlsbad Caverns.
It’s cool underground! Seriously, temperatures in the caves of North America consistently hover around 55 degrees.
The Big Room is the largest cave chamber in North America by volume with the capability to swallow six football fields.
The Bottomless Pit is one of the famed stops in the Big Room. It is a drop falling only 140 feet—but at the time of discovery, it was thought to be bottomless. (Note: wise men shall not throw debris into the pit to test its depth. Rangers have to repel down annually to clean out the bottom.)
Why Winter Is the Best Time to Visit Southern Utah
When winter arrives, travelers tend to split—half head to the mountains to ski or snowboard; the other half seeks out warm weather in the U.S. Sunbelt. Most overlook Utah, a state with year-round blue skies, mild weather, and red rock arches and spires that only look more stunning with a dusting of snow.
That landscape is perhaps best represented by southern Utah, my favorite section of the state that’s dominated by Mars-like spires, twisting canyons, and delicate sandstone arches. Southern Utah is home to all five of the state’s national parks and is often best visited in the winter when the hot, dry summer has passed and the crowds have dispersed.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan a visit to this lesser-known winter destination.
What to do
All five of Utah’s national parks (The Mighty Five) are found in the southern half of the state. In fact, it’s hard to plan a trip to southern Utah without incorporating a visit to at least one or two of the national parks.
Zion National Park is the furthest south and is known for its narrow slot canyons and pink sandstone cliffs. With more than 300 days of sunshine a year, Zion National Park is a great place to enjoy sunny skies and fresh air, and get a little extra Vitamin D in the winter months. Plan a winter visit to soak up the sunshine while enjoying moderate temperatures and a stunning sandstone kaleidoscope of reds, oranges, and pinks. Winter visitors will find plenty to do including hiking, photography, camping, and gazing up at the wonders of the night sky.
Nearby is Bryce Canyon National Park, home to the world’s largest concentration of hoodoos (irregular columns of rock). The stark white of freshly fallen snow, red rocks, blue sky, and evergreen trees—some say Bryce Canyon is even more beautiful in winter! Here at 8,000 feet the scenery changes dramatically in the colder months providing unique opportunities to see the park but requires a very different packing list. Begin by reviewing regular closures and regulations, read about typical weather, and then explore the many ways you can experience this winter wonderland.
To the east are the red rock canyons, cliffs, and domes of Capitol Reef National Park while the adventure town of Moab acts as the gateway to both Arches and Canyonlands national parks with delicate sandstone arches and red rock canyons.
Star of Ed Abbey’s iconic Desert Solitaire, Arches has come a long way since 1968 and these days it’s so action-packed, the park service is piloting a timed-entry system requiring advance reservations from April to October 2023. But there are ways around a Disneyland experience. Be an early bird or a night owl—come before sunrise or stay beyond sunset and you’ll be amply rewarded with quieter trails and golden light that makes the arches glow.
The nearest accommodations of Moab are close enough to the park entrance to make this doable. If you’d rather not rise early, book a guided tour with a ranger to see the permit-only Fiery Furnace area or secure a campsite at Devils Garden up to six months in advance. From the campground, you can hike to an underdog of an arch: the lesser-known, stunning Broken Arch.
Five distinct districts comprise Canyonlands, each offering something different. Island in the Sky is land of long views—don’t miss Shafer Trail Viewpoint or Mesa Arch. Only about 20 miles south of Island in the Sky as the crow flies (but a solid two-hour drive away), the Needles District offers great hiking including an action-packed jaunt on Cave Spring Trail featuring a replica of an 1880s-era cowboy camp and mushroom-like rock formations.
Go to the Maze to get lost; Chocolate Drops and Land of Standing Rocks are a couple of worthy destinations in this backcountry district. Head to the non-contiguous Horseshoe Canyon unit to see incredible petroglyphs including floating holy ghosts. And visit the River District at the bottom of the canyons carved by the Green and Colorado Rivers for a rafting adventure. For most of the park’s district, the best place to stay in Moab which offers easy access to Island in the Sky, the Needles, and the park’s rivers.
Beyond hiking, and in some cases, camping in southern Utah’s national parks, this part of the state is home to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, two winter sports that are beginner friendly and affordable. Those with their heart set on downhill skiing can find it at Brian Head Resort (near Cedar Breaks National Monument) or Eagle Point Resort, two ski areas with significantly lower prices than those found in northern Utah.
But there’s also year-round hiking, biking, camping, and backpacking in the southern part of the state. And in the evenings, when you’re resting your weary legs, make sure to look up—the long winter nights lend themselves to excellent stargazing.
What to pack
It’s all about layers in the winter. If you plan to be outside most of the day, you’ll want to wear synthetic or wool base layers and pack a warm jacket and hat. Sunny days are the norm even in the middle of winter so sunscreen and sunglasses are also a must.
If you plan on hiking in the snow, it may be worth getting a pair of cleats that fasten over your winter footwear and provide added traction.
Where to stay
Many of southern Utah’s national and state parks offer year-round camping.
Zion has three campgrounds. Watchman Campground is open year-round with reservations from early March to late November and first-come, first-serve during the rest of the year. South Campground and Lava Point Campground are open seasonally.
At Bryce Canyon, North Campground’s A Loop is open all winter long for first-come, first-served camping. There are 30 sites in this loop and it is rare for the campground to fill in winter other than around major holidays. As happens every year when overnight temperatures fall below freezing, Loops C and D of North Campground have closed. Loop B typically closes in late fall unless demand for winter campsites is high enough to justify its remaining open. Sunset Campground is closed for the winter and will reopen for first-come, first-served camping on April 15.
Adjacent to the Fremont River and surrounded by historic orchards, Fruita Campground in Capitol Reef has 71 sites. Each site has a picnic table and firepit and/or above ground grill but no individual water, sewage, or electrical hookups. There is a RV dump and potable water fill station near the entrance to Loops A and B. Restrooms feature running water and flush toilets but no showers. The park has a 100 percent reservation system from March 1-October 31.
Devils Garden Campground is the only campground at Arches National Park. You can reserve campsites for nights between March 1 and October 31. Between November and February, campsites are first-come, first-served.
Canyonlands maintains two campgrounds. Island in the Sky Campground (Willow Flat) has 12 sites, first come, first-served. There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings in the campground. There is no water at the campground. The campground is open year-round. The Needles Campground has 26 individual sites. You can reserve some individual sites from spring through fall. At other times of the year, individual sites are first-come, first-served. There are toilets, picnic tables, and fire rings in the campground.
Landscape is what becomes us. If we see our natural heritage only as a quarry of building block instead of the bedrock of our integrity, we will indeed find ourselves not only homeless but rootless by the impoverishment of our own imagination. At a time when we hardly know what we can count on in a country of shifting values and priorities, Canyonlands is our bedrock, a geologic truth that we all share, the eyes of the future are looking back at us, praying that we may see beyond our own time.
Volcano Week 2023 takes place during the first week of February
It’s Volcano Week! You may not have heard of this annual celebration hosted by the National Park Service (NPS) but it’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about the lava-filled peaks that continue to shape our Earth.
There are about 1,350 potentially active volcanoes around the world, 161 of which are in the U.S. and its territories.
Volcano Week 2023 takes place February 5-11.
“Some volcanic eruptions are witnessed by people who remember what they’ve seen by writing it down, painting about it, telling stories, or collecting detailed scientific data. Other eruptions go unseen, hidden in the distant past. How do we discover, learn about, and remember those eruptions? We have to look at many lines of evidence to reconstruct the activity and eruptions of volcanoes,” the park service said.
Volcanoes are diverse! They range from the majestic Mount Rainier to colossal shield volcanoes like Mauna Loa (Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park) and volcanic fields that can cover hundreds of square miles such as at Craters of the Moon National Monument.
Some volcanoes are picturesque, others less so. They vary in size from small cinder cones that stand only a few hundred feet tall to the most massive mountains on earth. Some have textbook-perfect conical shapes and others are more irregular in form.
Some volcanoes erupt only once and last for only a few days or less while others may have periods of activity that span expanses of time as great as a few million years.
Each volcano is somewhat unique, but most can be classified into several types. The most common types of volcanoes are cinder cones, composite volcanoes (stratovolcanoes), shield volcanoes, and volcanic domes.
Several other types of volcanoes exist and are part of the diversity of volcanic landforms found on land. Examples of these volcanoes are also found in national parks.
Cinder cone volcanoes
Cinder cones are the most common type of volcano in the world. They may look like an idealized depiction of a volcano as they are steep, conical hills that usually have a prominent crater at the top. Cinder cones are the most common type of volcano in the National Park System.
Capulin Volcano and Sunset Crater Volcano national monuments were established specifically to preserve especially large and picturesque cinder cones. These volcanoes are the tallest cinder cones in the National Park System with a height of approximately 1,000 feet each. Wizard Island in Crater Lake National Park is a cinder cone that formed after the caldera-forming eruption.
At least 24 units in the National Park System contain cinder cones, including:
Composite volcanoes can be the most picturesque of all volcanoes. A classic composite volcano is conical with a concave shape that is steeper near the top. These mountains commonly have snow-covered peaks standing high above the surrounding mountainous terrain.
Composite cones are large volcanoes (many thousands of feet tall) generally composed of lava flows, pyroclastic deposits, and mudflow (lahar) deposits, as well as lava domes. Composite volcanoes are active over long periods (tens to hundreds of thousands of years) and erupt periodically. Composite volcanoes are also called stratovolcanoes.
Mount Rainier is an active volcano and the tallest peak in the Pacific Northwest. It is also considered to be the most dangerous volcano in the Lower 48. Brokeoff Volcano (Mount Tehama) in Lassen Volcanic National Park is a deeply eroded large composite volcano. It consisted of lava domes, lava flows, and pyroclastic deposits that are between 590,000 and 385,000 years old.
At least eight units of the National Park System contain composite volcanoes, including:
Although shield volcanoes are the largest volcanoes on Earth, they do not form soaring mountains with conical peaks like composite volcanoes. Instead, they are broad volcanoes with gentle slopes and are shaped somewhat like a warrior’s shield lying flat on the Earth. Shield volcanoes have a convex shape as they are flatter near the summit.
Shield volcanoes are truly massive with volumes that dwarf other types of volcanoes even large composite volcanoes. Shield volcanoes are usually constructed almost entirely of basaltic and/or andesitic lava flows which were very fluid when erupted. They are built by repeated eruptions that occurred intermittently over vast periods (up to a million years or longer).
At least 13 units of the National Park System contain shield volcanoes, including:
Domes form from the slow extrusion of highly-viscous silicic lava. These lavas are too thick to spread out into a lava flow. Most domes are small and many do not have a crater. Domes are sometimes called lava domes.
Lassen Volcanic National Park contains multiple lava domes. Lassen Peak (see above photo) is the world’s largest dome with a peak elevation of 10,457 feet. It was emplaced 27,000 years ago. Chaos Crags are a set of six lava domes that grew during eruptions approximately 1,050 years ago. In Valles Caldera National Preserve, at least seven lava dome complexes formed along the ring fracture of the Valles Caldera during post-caldera volcanic activity.
At least 12 units of the National Park System contain volcanic domes, including:
Maars and tuff rings are low-standing volcanoes with wide, bowl-shaped craters. They commonly have a donut-like profile. Their low edifices consist of shallowly-dipping deposits of tuff made mostly of ash and angular, nonvesicular pebble-sized pyroclasts (lapilli).
A maar is a volcanic crater in which the crater lies below the surrounding ground level and is surrounded by a low pyroclastic cone. Because they are topographic lows, maars frequently contain lakes in their craters. A tuff ring is a pyroclastic cone with a crater above the surrounding ground surface. Tuff ring craters are usually dry.
At least six units of the National Park System contain maars or tuff rings, including:
Fissure volcanoes are produced by eruptions that occur along elongated fissures versus at a central vent. Fissure eruptions occur when magma-filled dikes intersect the surface. Fissure eruptions usually do not build substantial edifices but instead, feed lava flows that can travel great distances. Fissure eruptions may also occur in rift zones on shield volcanoes. They also frequently occur in monogenetic volcanic fields.
Fissure eruptions may be large or small, depending on the magma supply and length of the fissure. Fissure volcanoes have been the site of the largest volume of volcanic eruptions in Earth’s history in terms of the magnitude of lava erupted.
At least four units of the National Park System contain fissure volcanoes, including:
Volcanic fields are clusters of volcanoes or areas covered by volcanic rocks. Monogenetic volcanic fields consist mostly (or exclusively) of monogenetic volcanoes. These volcanoes (cinder cones, maars, tuff rings, and eruptive fissures) each experience one period of activity. Most monogenetic volcanic fields include areas covered by basaltic lava flows and clusters of cinders cones and/or maars and tuff rings, sometimes with a composite volcano or shield volcano located near the center of the field.
At least 13 units of the National Park system contain all or parts of monogenetic volcanic fields, including:
Calderas are collapse features that form during large-volume volcanic eruptions when the underlying magma chamber is partially emptied and the ground above it subsides into it. Calderas are large, generally with a diameter greater than 0.6 miles. The largest calderas are tens of miles wide. A defining characteristic of calderas is that they have diameters that are much wider than their included vents.
At least 16 units of the National Park System contain calderas, including:
Each volcano is an independent machine—nay, each vent and monticule is for the time being engaged in its own peculiar business, cooking as it were its special dish which in due time is to be separately served. We have instances of vents within hailing distance of each other pouring out totally different kinds of lava, neither sympathizing with the other in any discernible manner nor influencing other in any appreciable degree.
—Clarence Edward Dutton, Report on the Geology of the High Plateaus of Utah (1880)
Summer may be high season but these parks are at their best in the colder months
One of the best-kept secrets about America’s national parks is many are even better in winter. Whether you want to feel the satisfying crunch of snow under your boots or escape those chilly temps for a desert ramble, one thing’s for sure: You’ll be able to do so without the crowds that summer brings. Once-crowded trails turn into tranquil getaways. Quiet winter wonderlands showcase nature’s calm beauty.
And no matter how great the other seasons are for a visit, a visit to your favorite fall foliage or spring wildflower destination is completely different in the depths of winter. Lack of foliage can bring long views.
Below, find the best national parks to visit in winter from the red hoodoos of Bryce Canyon to the stunning desertscape of Saguaro. Be sure to pack a few extra layers and remember to always double-check trail and road conditions before heading out.
1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Although the Grand Canyon is a southern park, its ridges are still blessed with snow in winter. Fog is typical in the early morning hours but afternoons are sunny. The canyon’s North Rim is closed to visitors but the South Rim is open year-round and is less crowded during this season.
Visitors can take a cell phone audio tour or use a GPS device for the park’s EarthCache program. EarthCaches are a type of geocache that provide participants with a learning experience in geosciences. By participating in the program, you will embark on an exploration of the unique geologic story that provides insights into the Grand Canyon.
With the average temps exceeding 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the summer, outdoor enthusiasts who love national parks but hate the heat will love the cooler climate of Joshua Tree during the winter. Temperatures can reach 60 degrees making it the opportune time to visit the otherwise-sweltering Joshua Tree. Just be aware that while daytime temps here are generally mild in the winter, nighttime temps in the desert can drop below freezing.
The park is a mecca for world-class rock climbers but it also offers scenic drives and family-friendly hiking trails that any visitor can enjoy. After perusing the Cholla Cactus Garden and scrambling up the enormous, monzogranite boulders along Arch Rock Nature Trail, settle in for some epic stargazing at one of the 500 campsites in Joshua Tree National Park.
Plan your visit here during the cooler months for comfortable hiking temps and incredible stargazing without the huge crowds.
The famous, striking limestone formations at Carlsbad Caverns have often been compared to floating underground jellyfish or alcoves full of goblins and fairies—however you interpret them, they’re otherworldly. The best part about visiting this New Mexico locale in the winter months (apart from bypassing the crowds) is that the cave stays a balmy 56 degrees Fahrenheit, rain or shine. Ranger-led tours are available year-round or visitors can opt to check out the Natural Entrance and Big Room Trails on their own.
While it may be hard to imagine, Bryce Canyon’s earthly spires are even more spectacular when dusted in snow. Bryce Canyon National Park also has ideal stargazing skies and the cold, dry air makes them all the more amazing. Saturday astronomy programs and full moon snowshoe adventures are a couple of the several incredible programs offered here during the winter season. Don your microspikes or snowshoes (available for rent at Ruby’s Inn) and travel between the two points on the Rim Trail then warm up on a views-for-days drive to Rainbow Point—elevation 9,115 feet.
Since the Park is situated at 8,000-9,000 feet, some of the roads and trails are closed due to snow and ice but there are still plenty of things to do especially if you time your visit with the Bryce Canyon Winter Festival (February 18-20, 2023). Just be sure to pack warm clothes and be prepared for winter conditions.
Make winter plans to visit a warmer locale in Arizona’s Petrified National Park where park-goers can see the Painted Desert, drive past Blue Mesa, and see the Crystal Forest up close. The weather may be cold in winter but snow is rare. Don’t forget those warm layers for when temps drop at night.
6. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, North Carolina and Tennessee
Getting out in nature during an East Coast winter doesn’t have to mean shivering in a snowstorm for hours on end. America’s most visited park still gets attention after all its gorgeous leaves have dropped. The barren trees become fortresses of ice and snow—a true winter wonderland. Be aware that the main roads should remain clear but secondary ones may be closed. At night, stargaze by the fire at Cades Cove Campground.
Many people use Clingmans Dome Road (closed to vehicles December 1-March 31) for walking and cross-country skiing. The road starts 0.1 mile south of Newfound Gap.
Zion’s famous sandstone walls are often eclipsed by tourist throngs from spring through fall with 4.5 million people rushing into the 15-mile-long canyon each year. But with a light dusting of snow, the rust-colored cliffs visible from the Pa’rus Trail take on a magical quality and oft-crowded spots like Canyon Overlook are generally mob-free. Zion’s main road is normally closed to vehicles and serviced by a shuttle but in January, February, and parts of December you can drive your car through Zion Canyon.
Temperatures are generally mild during the day which makes for lovely hiking. Best of all? Winter travelers can savor slow mornings, sipping coffee in a cozy western cabin at centrally located Zion Lodge. And Watchman Campground remains open all winter.
One of America’s hottest parks (at least in terms of temperature), Big Bend is perfect for a winter visit. You can enjoy hikes into the Chisos Mountains, paddles along the Rio Grande, and some of the best star-gazing conditions in the U.S. While Big Bend’s high season is in winter—from October to April—this park is remote and doesn’t see a huge number of visitors, so you’ll still find plenty of solitude.
A natural wonder (especially in the mostly-flat Lone Star State), this park is named after a massive bend in the Rio Grande River that separates Texas from Mexico—and the far-flung locale has enough scenic diversity for a week-long journey or more.
Stay at the Chisos Mountains Lodge and marvel at high-elevation vistas of the craggy Window Formation as you hike through madrone trees and fragrant junipers. Then, soak your tired bones in the park’s historic hot springs, ideally as the sunset turns the famous Santa Elena Canyon into a hundred shades of amber.
Enjoy the stunning desert landscape of Saguaro National Park at Tucson where visitors can experience the beauty of the largest cactus in the United States—the giant Saguaro cacti which can grow to be more than 45 feet tall and age over 200 years. Winter is the perfect time to visit Saguaro because the temperatures are mild with an average high of 65 degrees and the light gives the desert a golden glow—this is one of the warmest national parks to visit in winter. There are a variety of hiking options within the park.
>> Read Next: The Ultimate Guide to Saguaro National Park
10. Arches National Park, Utah
Arches National Park has some of America’s most breathtaking scenes. In winter, white snow contrasts with the red rocks and blue skies to create some stunning sights. While daytime temperatures often rise above 90 degrees in summer expect freezing temperatures in winter. Even scant snowfall can make trails and off-roads impassable so be sure to plan ahead. Stop at the Arches Visitor Center to check the conditions and get an orientation so you’re prepared for winter conditions.
For winter camping and hiking, the Devils Garden Campground is open year-round with 51 sites available on a first-come, first-served basis between November 1 and February 28 including restrooms and drinking water at the campground.
Open year-round to outdoor enthusiasts, White Sands National Park in New Mexico is one of the best National Parks to visit in the winter for many reasons. For one, it’s a less-visited park in general so you’re likely to see very few people so you can sled down the dunes all by yourself. Plus, as soon as you hike a little ways into the dunes, you’re unlikely to encounter other hikers. New Mexico does get chilly in winter, but it rarely sees a lot of snow this far south.
Explore the largest intact expanse of old growth bottomland hardwood forest remaining in the southeast at Congaree National Park. South Carolina’s summers are hot and humid and the riverside habitat that makes up Congaree National Park is a favorite spot for mosquitoes. Visit in the cooler months, generally November to April, for mild temperatures and minimal mosquito levels. This is an ideal season to paddle, hike, or fish at the park.
Flooding is most frequent at this time of the year and can happen with little or no warning. It does not have to rain at Congaree for flooding to take place. Laying in a watershed the size of the state of Maryland, any significant rain in the upstate of South Carolina can cause a rise in water levels. Check the river gauges and the weather before you go.
A relatively small park, Pinnacles still packs a punch—especially in the winter. The landscape features shaded, oak woodlands and exposed chaparral. There are canyon bottoms and talus caves you hike inside leaving the other side at the foot of tall rock spires.
You’ll find 15 different hiking options in the park. To check out the caves start at Chapparal (West Pinnacles) and take either the Balconies Cliffs-Cave Loop (easy), the Juniper Canyon Loop (hard) or the High Peaks to Balconies Cave Loop (hard).
You can have an excellent time at Pinnacles any time of year though winter is one of the best times to visit. From late spring to mid-autumn this region can be very hot making longer hikes difficult. The temperatures are much more pleasant in late autumn through winter and early spring.
Winter stretches itself from October through June at Lassen Volcanic National Park. Clear lakes become icy and volcanoes become topped with heavy snow and steam vents become especially smoky. For those seeking fun as well as beauty, winter activities are at their peak with sledding hills that offer mountain views, snowshoeing for beginners and experts, and backcountry skiing that can’t be beat.
More than half of the year Lassen is blanketed in snow. Although the park highway closes to through traffic during the winter months, the Southwest and Manzanita Lake areas remain accessible year-round. Visit the park’s year-round Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center and enjoy the steep slopes in the Southwest Area or explore the gentler terrain in the Manzanita Lake area.
The old Lassen Ski Area located above the present-day Kohm Yah-mah-nee Visitor Center closed in 1994. The area is still used by backcountry skier and snowboarders.
15. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California
Is there a more sublime snow experience than skiing or snowshoeing through the giant trees found in these two parks? Trails can be found in both the Giant Forest of Sequoia and Grant Grove in Kings Canyon.
According to park staff, many trails are suitable for snowshoeing when there’s adequate snow. You can rent snowshoes or bring your own. Purchase a map of ski trails at any visitor center and look for reflective markers on trees that show popular paths. When snowshoeing, stay clear of ski tracks. Check the park newspaper’s winter safety tips.
Rangers lead snowshoe hikes when conditions allow. The park provides the snowshoes; you bring warm layered clothing, waterproof boots, gloves, hat, sunglasses, sunscreen, water, and a snack. The walks are moderately strenuous. Waterproof shoes are required. Walks last 1.5-2 hours and range from 1.5-2 miles in length.
Don’t wait until summertime to explore these National Parks
Even the best preparations and the most insulated RV may not be enough to survive harsh winter conditions. Anything can happen and anyone hell-bent to visit a remote destination in cold weather will do well to follow a few common sense winter RV camping guidelines.
Why go RVing to National Parks in winter?
Summer is by far the best and easiest time to learn how to go RVing to National Park Service (NPS) sites. Whether you travel in a motorhome coach or a teardrop trailer, as long as you pack a little food, adequate water, and your favorite creature comforts, even the most novice RVers have everything needed for a successful visit. But all this easy camping comes at a cost—less campsite availability, crowded facilities and trails, road traffic, and an ongoing din of humanity.
Winter RVing to national parks is an entirely different experience. Visitors brave enough to set up camp during colder days and even chillier nights are treated to an authentic experience with scarce crowds, more wildlife, and maximum solitude. It’s worth the effort but just don’t go in with that same laid-back approach you might take during summer. Winter RV camping in national parks requires more prep work and common sense—especially when heading to isolated destinations without cellular coverage.
During any given winter, about 38 NPS sites have campgrounds that stay open for off-season RV camping. If you think you’re up to the challenge of winter RV camping in national parks, here’s what you need to know to make the most of the experience.
The dos and don’ts of winter RV camping in National Parks
It doesn’t matter what type of RV you drive, the same basic winter camping rules apply to anyone heading to a NPS destination.
DO keep an eye on the weather: Having a roof over your head at night can give you a false sense of security when you’re RV camping. Our cozy homes on wheels make it easy to forget that chilly weather is about more than wearing bulky layers of clothing. Winter storms and cold winter weather generates a host of problems specific to RVs like frozen plumbing lines and bitter cold blowing through slide-out openings.
Even if you are lucky enough to have an electrical hookup at a campground, cold-weather RV challenges still happen. Don’t go into a national park RV destination without keeping a close tab on the short and long-term forecast. And if your camping destination lacks internet, take a daily walk to find the latest forecast posted at the entrance kiosk. Don’t let the weather surprise you and be ready for anything.
DON’T expect camping conveniences: Many national parks with winter RV camping technically are open but that doesn’t mean the usual camper services will be available. In most cases, essential facilities like RV dump stations, bathrooms, water spigots, and campsite utility hookups (where available) get shut off before the first hard freeze. Conveniences like camp stores and even gas stations may also be closed. Amenities like visitor centers and laundromats are likely to be shut down too. Come with all the food and provisions you need and check the park’s website to see what’s open before heading out.
DO arrive with camping essentials and working RV systems: Don’t leave home without allowing enough time to conduct a thorough check on your rig such as checking your RV propane levels and fuel reserves. Verify that your solar electric power system and generator work as expected and get your RV engine fully inspected and ready to roll on good tires. That way if sudden, severe weather moves in and you need to depart, your RV has everything it takes to roll away without issues.
DON’T forget to bring cold-weather RVing gear: The downside of cold-weather RVing in national parks is the need to carry bulky items to keep you and your RV warm. The upside is that if ominous weather is on the horizon, you’ll be ready for anything. Essential cold-weather RVing gear includes things like:
Pre-cut squares of Reflectix foil insulation to keep cold air from seeping through windows, ceiling vents, and other drafty areas
Heated water hose (or water hose heat tape or a length of foam insulation hose to wrap around your water hose and prevent freezing)
Full tank of fresh water in case hookups are shut off for the season
Adequate battery jump system strong enough to start your RV
Cold-weather clothing and footwear for you and your dog if you travel with one
Don’t let all of this preparation scare you. Cold weather camping in national parks can be a blast if you’re fully prepared. Create a thorough RV travel plan filled with contingencies for alternative places to camp, fuel up, and find groceries. Let people know where you are headed and when you’ll return. Do all that and you’ll be well-prepared for anything that might happen.
National Parks open for winter RV camping
Searching for the best winter RV camping national park destination with cold, sometimes snowy weather? Here’s an abbreviated list of national parks with at least one campground open for winter RV camping.
Note that in several of the following parks (Big Bend, Pinnacles, and Organ Pipe Cactus, for example) you can expect warmer weather and will not require the above cold weather preparation.
During this first month of the New Year, do you hear the open road calling? Are you reading RVingwithrex.com’s travel blogs wistfully thinking of your next road trip? Or are you out and about in your RV now, looking to add to your adventures?
Many people prefer to have a plan. It’s just human nature. The planning could involve the number of hours you log on the road each day (330 Rule), atlases and apps that enhance your journey, podcasts to pass the time, easy campsite recipes, events, and bucket list destinations.
My suggestion: Make a plan, however extensive or simple it is and go for it. I hope the information that follows provides you with some inspiration to do so.
Travel…be free…in 2023!
A recent survey has found that 37 percent of American leisure travelers representing 67 million plan on taking an RV trip this year, according to a News & Insights report by the RV Industry Association (RVIA).
Know before you go
RVing with Rex provides an RV Checklist for RVers to use as they start planning their upcoming adventures. The RV Checklist is a valuable tool you can use to help prevent setbacks and costly repairs while ensuring your next RV trip starts with a smooth ride.
Check out my arrival and departure checklist here.
Plan a road trip
There are a variety of tools you can use to plan your next road trip. However, the preparation can be a little more challenging when you travel in an RV. You face obstacles other drivers don’t such as locating large enough fuel stations, nearby campsites, water, and electric hookups, and avoiding low-clearances bridges and tunnels. I have found some of the top RV road trip apps to help you select the best ones for you:
RV Life Pro is a platform/app designed by RVers that gives you info about campgrounds and RV parks including reviews plus tips and suggestions for your next destination. It also provides an RV-safe GPS for navigating allowing you to add the height and weight of your RV. Quickly access your planned trips and get GPS directions to the next stop.
Roadtrippers Plus lets you create and edit a road trip, estimate your fuel costs, and indicate cool points of interest for your journey. If you prefer, choose from premade road trip itineraries. Live traffic updates are available as well as hotel bookings if you need a night away from the RV.
Campspot lists top-rated camping destinations available for online booking in North America. Discover campgrounds big and small, RV parks, glamping, cabins, and lodging. Book all listed campgrounds on the app instantly—no membership fee is required.
The Dyrt Pro features predesigned road trip maps and the ability to unlock discounts. This app includes offline maps and cell-service maps and it allows you to contact campgrounds and to ask other members for reviews. Many features are free but it is not accessible in Canada at this time.
Folks who do not enjoy the process of planning trips and booking campgrounds might consider another idea: an RV travel agent. This may be an attractive option for RVers who just want to travel with no fuss and no stress, and enjoy things as they come. However intriguing as that may sound, this obviously would be more expensive than the do-it-yourself option. Also, make sure your travel agent has the skills to book campsites and to plan an RV itinerary—and knows the difference between campsites, RV parks, and resorts as well as your preferences in that regard.
Difference between RV parks, campgrounds, and RV resorts
Asking what the difference is between RV parks, RV campgrounds, and RV resorts is a bit like asking the difference between a condo, a cabin, and a mansion. Think about it. They’ll all give you a place to stay. But, similar to the types of houses, the RV park, campground, and resort all offer different amenities.
RV parks are generally located either in town or just outside of town proper. Their pricing can range anywhere from $35 a night to $70 a night. Many RV parks also participate in discounted camping programs such as Passport America or Good Sam making their nightly rates even cheaper. Many will also offer weekly and monthly rates upon request. Typically RV parks will have full hook-ups at most sites but some will offer dry camping for a reduced cost to you. Most will have laundry facilities on site, Wi-Fi available (but often sketchy), along with showers and restrooms.
Campgrounds are located in places of scenic beauty such as a national park, state park, county park, or regional park. Being located in nature-surrounded areas you’ll usually have more space between sites than you would in a typical RV park. Most campgrounds have shower facilities and restrooms and electric and/or water hookups. Typically, the utilities do not include sewer at your site. In most cases, a dump station is available. Most campgrounds have hiking and biking trails right outside your door.
Want it all? Including the cell service, the WIFI, the nature trails, the full hook-ups, the privacy, and the space? RV resorts can give you that and more. With prices ranging anywhere from affordable to well over $100/night, usually you get more if you pay more. Some RV resorts are truly lavish in their resort style. From hot tubs to swimming pools to private dinner clubs and massage therapists, you can get it all. A word of caution: Some RV parks are billed as RV resorts when truly they are your typical RV park maybe with a tree or two more in between spaces.
330 Rule of RVing
While the excitement of picking your next RV destination may be at the forefront of your 2023 plans, it’s also important to consider how you’ll stay safe while on the road. Even if every second of your itinerary is perfectly calculated, you still want to keep safety in mind so you can enjoy every minute of your trip. Try using the 330 Rule while driving. This rule contains two pieces of advice to make traveling by RV more comfortable and to help keep you focused: Stop when you have driven 330 miles or its 3:30 in the afternoon.
To a seasoned traveler, 330 miles per day may not seem that long, but driving, especially on long stretches of highway, can be very tiring, no matter how comfortable you are. Since trailers and motorhomes are larger vehicles more focus and caution are needed to operate them which can lead to fatigue as well. It’s also a good idea to reach your destination before 3:30 p.m. as most RV parks still have working attendants at this time and you will have plenty of daylight to set up camp. And because exploring your destination can take some time, consider staying several days to allow time to enjoy the place you are at while taking time to refresh.
Keeping these rules in mind can help you have a successful 2023 travel season!
You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.