Planning a national park vacation can be a fun and adventurous experience, but it can also be stressful. You want to plan a vacation that will make you have the best time and you want to make sure that your travel plans and your hotel stays are well planned so that you can maximize your time and experience.

There are countless reasons why you might want to plan a national park vacation. Maybe you’re a history buff. Maybe you’re looking for a scenic getaway. Maybe you just want to see some of the world’s best national parks. Whatever the reason, we’ve got the information you need to plan the best national park vacation possible.

As the summer approaches, the time has come to plan a trip to a national park, whether it be for a short-term jaunt or a longer multi-tourist vacation. If you’re planning a family vacation to a national park, choosing the right park is important. There are national parks that are better suited for families, and others that are better for couples, and still others that are better suited to solitude seekers.

Since limitations started to ease, adventure travel has been encouraging the tourism industry to rebound, with more people than ever wanting to go outdoors, get active, and discover a new (typically domestic) location they’ve never been before.

The Great Outdoors 2021 Travel Report, published by Hopper, examined booking data from the company’s booking app to identify the year’s top trending locations and the current booking patterns, which tilt toward national parks.


What’s Hot Right Now

Travel technology, man with airplane and laptop

Due to the increase in social alienation, park closures, and travel limitations, a new ranking of the country’s most popular national parks emerged in 2020. The most popular national parks this year will resemble 2019’s list more than 2020’s, with sites like Yellowstone and Glacier scoring high once again, according to the study.

Airlines have already added additional routes to these locations, lowering the cost of air travel to the national parks. Flights to Bozeman, Montana (BZN), where visitors may visit Yellowstone National Park, are down 36% from last year’s prices, thanks to the addition of 17 new routes to the city; this is the country’s greatest number of national park route extensions. The city of Jackson, Wyoming, has the second-highest number of route extensions, followed by Phoenix, Arizona.

Yosemite via Fresno (FAT), Acadia through Bangor (BGR), Grand Teton through Jacksonville (JAC), and other national park towns have cheaper airfares. Airfares are down 5% on average throughout the country compared to pre-pandemic summer levels.

Denver, Colorado, Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and Kihei, Maui, Hawaii are the locations where consumers are most interested in seeing hotel rates decrease. All of these locations are near to national parks and other outdoor activities. Jackson, Wyoming ($363), Bozeman, Montana ($287), and Asheville, North Carolina ($299) were the most popular in terms of flight quotations, up from 2019’s list of favorite outdoor locations, indicating that adventure travel is more popular than it was two years ago.

Snake River Overlook, Grand Teton National Park Grand Teton National Park’s Snake River Overlook. ( Lubick picture)

While flights to the most famous national parks are less expensive this year, it may still be a smart idea to avoid the crowds and visit less popular but still beautiful places. Some of the more popular ones need reservations or have capacity restrictions, making it more difficult to get in.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison, which requires flying into Montrose, Colorado; Mesa Verde, which requires flying into Durango, Colorado; Kings Canyon from Fresno; and Kenai Fjords from Anchorage are some of the less popular national parks with moderate summer weather and cheaper airfare compared to 2019. Airfares have dropped by at least 15% for each.

It may just pay to go the extra mile this year to grab the greatest bargains. Fairbanks, Alaska’s airfare has dropped by almost half. Flights to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and Bozeman, Montana are also more than 35% cheaper than in the summer of 2019.

Bull bison grazing in Yellowstone's Lamar Valley. Bull bison grazing in Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley. (Photo courtesy of Abercrombie & Kent/Jacob W Frank)

However, airfare isn’t the only element to consider when planning a trip; accommodation costs are also essential to consider. Phoenix, Arizona; Denver, Colorado; and Salt Lake City, Utah are the cheapest destinations, with travel prices ranging from $403 to $428. (including round-trip airfare and one night at a hotel).

If cost is a major consideration in where and when you go, try going in the early autumn, when round-trip ticket dropped by approximately 20% on average in 2019. This is anticipated to happen again this autumn, but due to strong demand for travel, the study predicts just a 10-15% decrease in price.

Consider visiting in the fall to warmer climates or less wintry national parks, such as Shenandoah National Park, Acadia National Park, or the Great Smoky Mountains, which all have spectacular autumn foliage. In the early to mid autumn, desert areas such as Death Valley are also excellent choices.

Please click here to see the whole report. Visit learn more about each national park, go to

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the tips to remember when you are in a national park?

The best way to remember what to do when you are in a national park is to make sure that you have your phone with you. This will allow you to take pictures of the animals, plants, and landmarks around you so that if something happens, like someone falls or gets lost, they can easily find their way back.

How do I plan a national park trip?

There are many ways to plan a national park trip. The first step would be to find out which parks you want to visit and then figure out how long it will take you to get there. Once you know that, you can start planning your itinerary.

How do I decide which national park to visit?

You should visit the national park that is closest to you.

This article broadly covered the following related topics:

  • national park road trip planner
  • guide to visiting all national parks
  • national park road trip map
  • national park trips
  • national park tour map
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