How to Plan a Camping Trip to a National Park
Wherever you live in the United States, you're not too far from one of the country's 63 National Parks. The 85 million acres of National Park Service land is scattered across the nation, federally protected, and operated by the National Park Service. Within the borders of these parks are some of the most impressive geological and natural beauty you will ever see.
It's an opportunity to visit one National Park, however, if you were to see them all, it would take you months. The way to get the most from a trip to one of America's gorgeous National Parks is to plan. Whether you intend to spend one night or several weeks camping, having reservations before you arrive will ensure you have a campsite.
Make Campsite Reservations Before Visiting
There are many ways to select a National Park to see, and you may want to visit a particular one due to its features and location. The Great Smokey Mountain National Park and Yellowstone are probably two of the most renowned in the country. However, all the National Parks have features that make them unique.
Most National Parks do not require a reservation to visit. However, most require a reservation to camp, and you can make a reservation as far as 11 months out. With that much lead-time, you’ll have plenty of time to plan your trip from start to finish.
Or you can wing it, however, those camping reservations? It would be best to make them now. The horseback riding and fishing trips can get sorted out later.
Decide How Long You Can Stay
This will depend on where you’re going, how long it takes you to get there, and how much time you can spend away from home. National Parks also have a 14-day limit for campers. But that doesn't mean you can't leave one park and visit the next if you have the time.
Get Your Ideal Camping Spot
Determine the ideal spot for your camping situation. For example, you may want a high and dry campsite in case of bad weather or preferably one that is not in the middle of all the park traffic. If you have pets or kids a campsite away from ledges but near the showers may be idea. Other questions to consider are, if you’re camping in an RV, will you need power, water, and sewer, or is your camper self-contained? Or are you tent camping and just a need a bare bones spot with a parking space?
Ask yourself these questions before making reservations. Also read reviews of the campsites and look at images online if there are any, so that you have a good sense of what your living situation will be while you’re there.
Plan Your Itinerary
Once you reserve the dates you’ll be staying at the National Park, then you can plan the travel time. Use Google maps to plan out a route and figure out how long it will take you to get to your destination. Plan for rest stops or note any sightseeing activities you’d like to do along the way.
If there are activities you’d like to do while camping at the National Park, such as horseback riding or guided hikes, check to see if these have added costs and require reservations.
If you have sights you want to see in the National Park you visit, weave the time you need to see them into your schedule.
Inventory Your Camping Gear
Camping requires a lot of gear, and if it’s not sorted out and organized before you leave for your trip, you may not have what you need when you get to where you're going. Whether your adventure includes a tent or an RV, keeping your camping gear together is important.
Make a camping checklist and use gear boxes with sides that drop down, so you have camping storage and an organized camp kitchen. This will allow all your cooking equipment to be in one place while also acting as a camp kitchen that offers a shelf for plates or a place for the chef to prepare dinner. Having all your cooking equipment in one place will make meals easier to prepare during your outdoor recreation.
The point is, having your gear organized will make for a much more pleasant trip because you will have what you need to set up a good camp, and an Out-In-About Box™ will help you make that happen.
Unless you’re a novice camper, you’re accustomed to maintaining your camping gear. However, it can still get disorganized and moved about from one camping season to the next. That's why planning a camping trip is so important. Having what you need on a camping trip is easier when your gear is stored in a dedicated box. Even better is a box that can become an additional table or workspace. Now you’re ready to get your camping organized, boxed up, make a plan, and visit a National Park of your choice.