U.S. National Parks thread

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  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    I am traveling cross country with my 11 year old daughter this summer. I have had no time to plan my trip. I put in my resignation at work and I am able to start traveling west on July 8th. I would like to bypass NC and TN as soon as possible and explore new territory.  I would like to hit as many National Parks as I can and my daughter would love to see Vegas and L.A. somehow. I want to hit Grand Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree. I need to plan this trip quickly and buy a better, easier tent to set up. I would like to hit the Badlands and take the northern route on the way back. Any feedback is appreciated.
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    ^ We have 3-4 weeks leaving from Charlotte, NC. We would like to mix it up between tent camping, cabins and hotels.
  • Meltdown99Meltdown99 None Of Your Business...Posts: 7,268
    I am traveling cross country with my 11 year old daughter this summer. I have had no time to plan my trip. I put in my resignation at work and I am able to start traveling west on July 8th. I would like to bypass NC and TN as soon as possible and explore new territory.  I would like to hit as many National Parks as I can and my daughter would love to see Vegas and L.A. somehow. I want to hit Grand Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree. I need to plan this trip quickly and buy a better, easier tent to set up. I would like to hit the Badlands and take the northern route on the way back. Any feedback is appreciated.
    Search "instant tents' and you will find tents from most major manufacturers that set up in less than a few minutes...sounds like a great trip, you and your daughter enjoy...
  • jerparker20jerparker20 St. Paul, MNPosts: 1,624
    I am traveling cross country with my 11 year old daughter this summer. I have had no time to plan my trip. I put in my resignation at work and I am able to start traveling west on July 8th. I would like to bypass NC and TN as soon as possible and explore new territory.  I would like to hit as many National Parks as I can and my daughter would love to see Vegas and L.A. somehow. I want to hit Grand Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree. I need to plan this trip quickly and buy a better, easier tent to set up. I would like to hit the Badlands and take the northern route on the way back. Any feedback is appreciated.
    This trip sounds HOT!!! As in hot temperatures.  Joshua Tree, GC, and Zion average around 100 degrees in the daytime at that time of the year. Even Badlands can be excessively hot. Last time I was there it was around 105. That was the first part of August. Make sure you have plenty of drinking water in reserve in your vehicle. 

    I would also start making reservations for places to stay/camp. The lodges in the parks fill up fast and are expensive. Stayed at one of the lodges in Death Valley in February. A room was around $225 a night. The campgrounds tend to fill up quick in the parks as well. 

    you can try your luck going the dispersed camping route. It’s free. I’ve never had issues doing it, but I know others who have some interesting stories with their experiences.

    I’d personally do this trip during the late fall (mid-October through mid-November). Temps are not scorching hot and less crowds. If I was doing a summer trip I’d go north: Teddy Roosevelt, Yellowstone, Great Basin, then either Washington (Olympic, Cascades, Rainer) or Northern California/Oregon.
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    Thanks for the responses and all the info. ^^ It will no doubt be hot but unfortunately this summer is the only time I have to take a trip like this. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions and will definitely take them into consideration. My house is under contract and I'm getting ready to move so there has been zero time for trip planning but I definitely need to get on it start making reservations! 

    What exactly is the dispersed camping route? Camping in areas that aren't official campgrounds? I'll probably steer away from that since it's just my daughter and I. 
  • rgambsrgambs Posts: 12,237
    Anybody else get out on National Trails day Saturday?
    We did our favorite piece of the Appalachian Trail in Grayson Highlands SP, and 20 miles of the Virginia Creeper Trail in Mt Rogers NRA, all within Jefferson and Washington National Forests.
    Rhododendron was in bloom, and the wild pony foal were still small and spindly. 
    Excellent stuff.

    Monkey Driven, Call this Living?
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 3,220
    I am traveling cross country with my 11 year old daughter this summer. I have had no time to plan my trip. I put in my resignation at work and I am able to start traveling west on July 8th. I would like to bypass NC and TN as soon as possible and explore new territory.  I would like to hit as many National Parks as I can and my daughter would love to see Vegas and L.A. somehow. I want to hit Grand Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree. I need to plan this trip quickly and buy a better, easier tent to set up. I would like to hit the Badlands and take the northern route on the way back. Any feedback is appreciated.
    Hey @hauntingfamiliar - you've had a few weeks to ponder your travel plans. What have you come up with? 

    I am neither the most seasoned traveler, not the most knowledgeable National Parks person. Vegas, Grand Canyon, LA and Joshua Tree all seem pretty logistically simple to plan for. I would guess from there, you will travel to Zion and up to the Badlands as you begin your trek back to NC.

    The drive from Zion to the Badlands will be a pretty rough stretch. If you have a thorough interest in National Parks, I recommend looking at a map of them and where others may be in relation to where you are already wanting to be. Near the Badlands, you may want to dedicate time for Wind Cave NP and Mount Rushmore (I reccomend staying away from the Crazy Horse monument as there is not much to see there). When visiting Zion, there are a few other really interesting looking National Parks in that part of Utah. I believe there are some other National Parks near Joshua Tree. On your way out west, a good day 1 stopping point may be near Hot Springs NP in Arkansas. On your way back after the Badlands just east of Chicago in NW Indiana is the Indiana Dunes National Park. 

    A nice, logistical NP trip home could be: 
    Badlands to
    Indiana Dunes to
    Cuyahoga Falls to 
    Shenandoah
    All parks can mostly be seen during the course of a single day.

    Lastly, a huge tip...begin your Park visiting days early! Wildlife is most active at daybreak. Crowds begong to really fill in around 9-10 in the morning and really put a damper on travel times.


    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 28,547
    I am traveling cross country with my 11 year old daughter this summer. I have had no time to plan my trip. I put in my resignation at work and I am able to start traveling west on July 8th. I would like to bypass NC and TN as soon as possible and explore new territory.  I would like to hit as many National Parks as I can and my daughter would love to see Vegas and L.A. somehow. I want to hit Grand Canyon, Zion, Joshua Tree. I need to plan this trip quickly and buy a better, easier tent to set up. I would like to hit the Badlands and take the northern route on the way back. Any feedback is appreciated.
    That sounds like a great trip!  All of the parks you mentioned are great.  Vegas and L.A.?  Well... gotta see them once I guess, LOL.  My wife and I did a cross country trip about 10 years ago and one of the smartest things we did was take blue highways (so named after William Least Heat-Moon's book) as much as possible rather than Interstate Highways.  We saw so much more of the country that way.  Since you're going through Utah, you might consider also Arches, Bryce, Capitol Reef and Canyonlands- all beautiful places!  Have a great time!
    "Hate your job, love your stuff
    If you think that's living, you are
    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong"
    -Juliana Hatfield
    ***********
    M.I.T.S.







  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 28,547
    Thanks for the responses and all the info. ^^ It will no doubt be hot but unfortunately this summer is the only time I have to take a trip like this. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions and will definitely take them into consideration. My house is under contract and I'm getting ready to move so there has been zero time for trip planning but I definitely need to get on it start making reservations! 

    What exactly is the dispersed camping route? Camping in areas that aren't official campgrounds? I'll probably steer away from that since it's just my daughter and I. 
    Dispersed camping is also called "dry camping"- camping on national and state forest lands.  One of the great things about traveling in the west is that, unless otherwise marked, you can do dispersed camping on national and state forest lands and BLM lands for free.  Most of the year- especially in summer- you are not allowed to build campfires and even when they are allowed, you need to obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. 
    "Hate your job, love your stuff
    If you think that's living, you are
    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong"
    -Juliana Hatfield
    ***********
    M.I.T.S.







  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 3,220
    brianlux said:
    Thanks for the responses and all the info. ^^ It will no doubt be hot but unfortunately this summer is the only time I have to take a trip like this. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions and will definitely take them into consideration. My house is under contract and I'm getting ready to move so there has been zero time for trip planning but I definitely need to get on it start making reservations! 

    What exactly is the dispersed camping route? Camping in areas that aren't official campgrounds? I'll probably steer away from that since it's just my daughter and I. 
    Dispersed camping is also called "dry camping"- camping on national and state forest lands.  One of the great things about traveling in the west is that, unless otherwise marked, you can do dispersed camping on national and state forest lands and BLM lands for free.  Most of the year- especially in summer- you are not allowed to build campfires and even when they are allowed, you need to obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. 
    Hard to make real s'mores without a campfire. A marshmallow browned over a gas stove flame just is not the same.

    :smirk:
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • brianluxbrianlux Moving through All Kinds of Terrain.Posts: 28,547
    brianlux said:
    Thanks for the responses and all the info. ^^ It will no doubt be hot but unfortunately this summer is the only time I have to take a trip like this. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions and will definitely take them into consideration. My house is under contract and I'm getting ready to move so there has been zero time for trip planning but I definitely need to get on it start making reservations! 

    What exactly is the dispersed camping route? Camping in areas that aren't official campgrounds? I'll probably steer away from that since it's just my daughter and I. 
    Dispersed camping is also called "dry camping"- camping on national and state forest lands.  One of the great things about traveling in the west is that, unless otherwise marked, you can do dispersed camping on national and state forest lands and BLM lands for free.  Most of the year- especially in summer- you are not allowed to build campfires and even when they are allowed, you need to obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. 
    Hard to make real s'mores without a campfire. A marshmallow browned over a gas stove flame just is not the same.

    :smirk:
    Yuk, that's for sure. 

    Thing is, out here in the west too often a campfire sometimes becomes big enough to make a billion s'mores.  :frowning:
    "Hate your job, love your stuff
    If you think that's living, you are
    Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong"
    -Juliana Hatfield
    ***********
    M.I.T.S.







  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 3,220
    brianlux said:
    brianlux said:
    Thanks for the responses and all the info. ^^ It will no doubt be hot but unfortunately this summer is the only time I have to take a trip like this. I appreciate all the feedback and suggestions and will definitely take them into consideration. My house is under contract and I'm getting ready to move so there has been zero time for trip planning but I definitely need to get on it start making reservations! 

    What exactly is the dispersed camping route? Camping in areas that aren't official campgrounds? I'll probably steer away from that since it's just my daughter and I. 
    Dispersed camping is also called "dry camping"- camping on national and state forest lands.  One of the great things about traveling in the west is that, unless otherwise marked, you can do dispersed camping on national and state forest lands and BLM lands for free.  Most of the year- especially in summer- you are not allowed to build campfires and even when they are allowed, you need to obtain a permit from the U.S. Forest Service. 
    Hard to make real s'mores without a campfire. A marshmallow browned over a gas stove flame just is not the same.

    :smirk:
    Yuk, that's for sure. 

    Thing is, out here in the west too often a campfire sometimes becomes big enough to make a billion s'mores.  :frowning:
    This is true. Maybe save the s'mores for Arkansas on her way out there, or Indiana on her way back. 
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    Thanks for all of the great suggestions. It's been a busy couple of months with selling the house, moving etc but I do have a rough plan. I'm actually on a mini trip up the east coast right now. I have to take advantage of every second of my summer off work! :) I'll be in Bangor, Maine to see a few Phish shows and heading into Acadia NP one of the days. That will kick off my National Park tour! After that I'll be in New Hampshire and Vermont for more hiking and camping. I'm looking forward to some nice cooler weather.

    In July my daughter and I will start our road trip out west. We will spend a few days camping in Smoky Mtn NP then heading to Ozark National Forest for 2 days. There are a couple waterfall hikes we are going to hit. We are sticking with the I-40 route out west and I've found some  fun and odd sites to see while road trippin' ;) Woodie Guthrie Monument in Oklahoma, fun truck stops, Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM. Eventually we will end up in Arizona and we will head to Petrified Forest NP and Painted Dessert. Hitting Grand Canyon for 2 days after that. Then driving to Santa Monica to stay with my sister for a few days. I've booked a room in Vegas for 2 nights as we start our trek back and we will have a totally different experience there I'm sure! I don't have any solid plans after that but I am leaning towards Zion NP, Arches and then Rocky Mtns. If I head north it might make the trip too long. I really wanted to take the northern route back but I think it's going to be about 2 1/2 weeks at this point and we will need to make our way back through Midwest maybe. Still working on the details. I've never done anything like this before so whatever I do it's  going to be incredible.
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    Hit Acadia NP late last week. Unfortunately most of the trails were flooded and it was hard to see anything due to all the fog. The temperature dropped about 10 degrees on the drive from the entrance of the park to Cadillac Summit. It felt more like a winter day than late June! Wish we had more time to stay and explore once the weather cleared. It looked like a great place to hike right on the cliffs of the ocean.

    Honorable mention***
    We took the Kancamagus Hwy through the White Mountains in New Hampshire the next day. Absolutely stunning mountain views.

  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 3,220
    Thanks for all of the great suggestions. It's been a busy couple of months with selling the house, moving etc but I do have a rough plan. I'm actually on a mini trip up the east coast right now. I have to take advantage of every second of my summer off work! :) I'll be in Bangor, Maine to see a few Phish shows and heading into Acadia NP one of the days. That will kick off my National Park tour! After that I'll be in New Hampshire and Vermont for more hiking and camping. I'm looking forward to some nice cooler weather.

    In July my daughter and I will start our road trip out west. We will spend a few days camping in Smoky Mtn NP then heading to Ozark National Forest for 2 days. There are a couple waterfall hikes we are going to hit. We are sticking with the I-40 route out west and I've found some  fun and odd sites to see while road trippin' ;) Woodie Guthrie Monument in Oklahoma, fun truck stops, Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, NM. Eventually we will end up in Arizona and we will head to Petrified Forest NP and Painted Dessert. Hitting Grand Canyon for 2 days after that. Then driving to Santa Monica to stay with my sister for a few days. I've booked a room in Vegas for 2 nights as we start our trek back and we will have a totally different experience there I'm sure! I don't have any solid plans after that but I am leaning towards Zion NP, Arches and then Rocky Mtns. If I head north it might make the trip too long. I really wanted to take the northern route back but I think it's going to be about 2 1/2 weeks at this point and we will need to make our way back through Midwest maybe. Still working on the details. I've never done anything like this before so whatever I do it's  going to be incredible.
    That sounds like one hell of a trip! We expect photographic stories and updates every 2 or 3 days. I thought you were trying to get past the GSMNP as quickly as possible. I was surprised you were planning on spending a couple days camping there.

    You being from NC, I would recommend a weekend trip up to Shenandoah if you've never been. 
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 3,220
    @hauntingfamiliar - sorry your time to Acadia was hampered by so much fog. Had the same thing happen when we drove up to Clingman's Dome in the GSMNP. We pobably should have checked the conditions before making the long drive up there. 
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    @darwinstheory The Acadia trip was a bit disappointing but we didn't waste much time or money so it was worth it just to explore. Really cool area and I would definitely go back.  We purposely stayed closer to Acadia than Bangor for the Phish shows so it would be an easy drive into Acadia. I bought a National Park pass right before the trip so "no cost" for the fog. 
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    ^ Yess @darwinstheory I've been camping and tubing in Shenandoah but it's been about a decade and I didn't even  realize it was a National Park when my younger self went. Nice suggestion. I definitely need to hit it up again.

    So my plan is to bypass NC/TN more quickly than the rest of the state's since I know this terrain and I want to explore new territory. Last week I used my friend's  tent but yesterday I just purchased a new insta tent. I put it up in my sisters backyard and it really didn't take that long. I'm kind of nervous about camping and being in charge of setting everything up on my own. My daughter will definitely help but I am ultimately responsible. I am only traveling around 3 hours the first day so I can test all of my equipment close to home. We will be deep in GSMNP. I'd like to do trails there the day we arrive and the next morning, then head to a campground outside of Nashville for 2nd night.

    I will definitely update with pictures and cool spots to see when I can! 

    :peace:
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    GSMNP -
    Camping went really well. I love my new instant tent. Magellan 6 person with rain fly. Set up in minutes. My old Coleman propane stove worked wonders for meals when we didn't have the firewood handy. I bought a reusable coffee filter instead of using my camping coffee percolator and it was much less clean up and coffee was delicious and welcomed in any form.

    Clingsman's Dome - 

    It's always hazy here, but I'm kind of fond of it. Mystical quality in this area. View was clearer than in Arcadia.



    Spent a day hiking in the Ozarks National Forest.
    Hot, humid, very BUGGY! Cool new place to explore on our trek out west.

    :peace:
  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 3,220
    Very cool (albeit hot and buggy) start to the trip. Been looking forward to your play-by-play. I once drove up to Clingman's Dome.  Got out of the car and it was SOOO "smoky". People coming down from the tower said you couldn't see a damned thing. So I left. Hindsight, I could have used the workout burning some extra calories.

    The Ozarks look quite nice.
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • rgambsrgambs Posts: 12,237

    Monkey Driven, Call this Living?
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    rgambs said:

    Looks amazing Gambs!! Sequoia? We are thinking about camping there on our way back east. Beautiful pictures!
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    So it's been an amazing past few days on the road. After the Ozarks, we drove through Oklahoma and stopped at the Woodie Guthrie statue and mural, saw the old Conoco Gas Station on route 66.. I believe it's called the U-Drop Inn. We saw the Groom Cross in Texas and ate at the cheesy, fun and infamous Great Texan Steak Ranch! We went into New Mexico and checked out the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa. The water was ice cold and crystal clear. A perfect oasis from the sun. I have lots of great pictures but I will stick with thread integrity. 

    We ventured into Arizona today and explored Petrified Forest National Park. It really wasn't that crowded and the sights were breathtakingly beautiful. We stopped by the Meteor Crater in Winslow on our way to Flagstaff and it all just felt like we were on another planet.


  • rgambsrgambs Posts: 12,237
    rgambs said:

    Looks amazing Gambs!! Sequoia? We are thinking about camping there on our way back east. Beautiful pictures!
    Yosemite!
    Monkey Driven, Call this Living?
  • tempo_n_groovetempo_n_groove Posts: 20,457
    So it's been an amazing past few days on the road. After the Ozarks, we drove through Oklahoma and stopped at the Woodie Guthrie statue and mural, saw the old Conoco Gas Station on route 66.. I believe it's called the U-Drop Inn. We saw the Groom Cross in Texas and ate at the cheesy, fun and infamous Great Texan Steak Ranch! We went into New Mexico and checked out the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa. The water was ice cold and crystal clear. A perfect oasis from the sun. I have lots of great pictures but I will stick with thread integrity. 

    We ventured into Arizona today and explored Petrified Forest National Park. It really wasn't that crowded and the sights were breathtakingly beautiful. We stopped by the Meteor Crater in Winslow on our way to Flagstaff and it all just felt like we were on another planet.


    Somewhere there is a picture of me jumping in that crater.  Cool pic. I need to find it.

    As for Arcadia, I was just there and a fellow PJ fan Scott was up there too.

    So Arcadia in the AM had a bunch of fog too but thankfully the sun burned it off then we got amazing views of the island.  We didn't do beehive because we heard it was closed.  It wasn't...  Now I'm pissed because I wanted to do that hike!
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    rgambs said:
    rgambs said:

    Looks amazing Gambs!! Sequoia? We are thinking about camping there on our way back east. Beautiful pictures!
    Yosemite!
    Oooh nice!!
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    So it's been an amazing past few days on the road. After the Ozarks, we drove through Oklahoma and stopped at the Woodie Guthrie statue and mural, saw the old Conoco Gas Station on route 66.. I believe it's called the U-Drop Inn. We saw the Groom Cross in Texas and ate at the cheesy, fun and infamous Great Texan Steak Ranch! We went into New Mexico and checked out the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa. The water was ice cold and crystal clear. A perfect oasis from the sun. I have lots of great pictures but I will stick with thread integrity. 

    We ventured into Arizona today and explored Petrified Forest National Park. It really wasn't that crowded and the sights were breathtakingly beautiful. We stopped by the Meteor Crater in Winslow on our way to Flagstaff and it all just felt like we were on another planet.


    Somewhere there is a picture of me jumping in that crater.  Cool pic. I need to find it.

    As for Arcadia, I was just there and a fellow PJ fan Scott was up there too.

    So Arcadia in the AM had a bunch of fog too but thankfully the sun burned it off then we got amazing views of the island.  We didn't do beehive because we heard it was closed.  It wasn't...  Now I'm pissed because I wanted to do that hike!
    Yes find that picture and post it here!! 

    I heard that sunrise in Acadia is supposed to be one of the best but I guess it all depends on the fog factor. Too bad about beehive, but it gives you an excuse to go back. :)
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    Only took 42 years but made it there today!!!


  • darwinstheorydarwinstheory LaPorte, INPosts: 3,220
    This thread has put forth some excellent photos recently! I have truly enjoyed so many of the stories and things you folks have shared. It is really pumping me up for the trip to Glacier in August. Flying out 1 month from tomorrow and I'm pretty jacked for it. Looking super forward to the physical activities I have been shamefully missing out on. I am looking forward to weighing my fat ass before I leave and when I get home too!

    It's so exciting to see people enjoying/appreciating these outstanding sights. Keep it up folks!!!
    "A smart monkey doesn't monkey around with another monkey's monkey" - Darwin's Theory
  • hauntingfamiliarhauntingfamiliar Wilmington, NCPosts: 9,826
    Glacier really is the spot to be right now!! I know you will have an amazing time! Plus, you'll actually be able to hike until you get tired and not until you feel like you're going to die of heat exhaustion/ sun exposure.

    The biggest difference I've noticed between southeast heat and this southwest heat is the humidity...duhh ;) But seriously, I can always feel it when I'm overheating in North Carolina because it is so suffocatingly hot that I sweat to death and then go inside. The heat is dangerous here because it tricks you into thinking it's not that bad. I don't sweat here at all, it's weird and so I stay out longer in the scorching sun and then boom all of a sudden I am at pass out level. You have to be careful here, this heat is tricky. 

    That being said, I am sure the weather will be perfect in Glacier. Sounds like so much fun! 
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