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National Parks of America

About this tour.

Experience the grandeur of the American West as you explore five fantastic national parks on this exciting journey. In Arizona, contemplate the vast beauty of the Grand Canyon, and in Yellowstone, relish iconic sights like Old Faithful and Yellowstone Lake. Marvel at the magnitude and color of Zion’s cliffs and the hoodoos and spires at Bryce Canyon. Enjoy 2-night stays in Springdale, Utah (Zion) and Jackson Hole. Drive through the incredible Bighorn Mountains and the great Sioux Nations Territory before seeing Mt. Rushmore and Crazy Horse Monument. Meet a local Lakota Native American at dinner and learn about their fascinating way of life, past and present. Gain new appreciation of the great outdoors on this journey that takes you from the Grand Canyon to Mount Rushmore National Memorial and everywhere in between.

Your Tour Includes

  • 9 Handpicked Accommodations
  • 2 Choice on Tour Options

Included Highlights

  • Grand Canyon
  • Lake Powell

Your Tour at a Glance

10 Breakfasts

2 - Moderate

Travel Style

Customize your tour.

Optional Excursions

Starting at $110.00

Activity Level

  • Level This Tour

For specific details about this tour's activity level and other info to know before you book your trip, click here.

Extension Style

Travel styles, highlights and inclusions.

Must-See Inclusions:

Spend a night at the spectacular Grand Canyon.

Visit Yellowstone National Park, home to the famous Old Faithful Geyser.

  • See one of the country's most famous landmarks, Mount Rushmore.

Cultural Experiences:

Explore the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, a tribute to Buffalo Bill Cody.

Meet Native Americans and discuss their unique and colorful culture.

Culinary Inclusions:

Experience a chuck wagon dinner* and cowboy entertainment.

  • Bryce Canyon
  • Salt Lake City
  • Jackson Hole
  • Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks
  • Old Faithful
  • Bighorn Mountains
  • Crazy Horse Memorial
  • Mount Rushmore

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* With Insurance Purchased

  • *No Hassle Refunds
  • Traveling Well Safety
  • No booking fee, *no change fees
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Getting Prepared

Know before you go, travel tips, enhance your tour.

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Unique Experience

Cultural Experiences

Enhance Your Trip

  • Tour Extensions

Hotel-Courtyard by Marriott Scottsdale

If your interests stretch beyond the beauty of downtown Jackson Hole, we have a special treat for you! Swing your own paddle for a thrilling ride through the white waters of the Snake River. An experienced guide conducts the trip, and you provide the paddle power. This unforgettable addition to your vacation is an experience you will talk about for many years to come.

Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Snake River on a gentle float trip. Your guide will paddle while pointing out interesting sights along the way. The trip is a great way to see the beauty of the river and the geology that forms the Snake River. The river is home to a variety of waterfowl and native animals including moose, deer and river otters. It is also the nesting area of our nation’s symbol, the bald eagle, as well as ospreys. You will enjoy an included picnic lunch.

See one of the country's most famous landmarks, Mount Rushmore.


Arrive earlier.

Pre Night: Courtyard by Marriott Scottsdale From $90 per night

Courtyard by Marriott Scottsdale

Yavapai east at south rim grand canyon, lake powell resort, holiday inn express/springdale zion park inn, radisson hotel salt lake downtown, snow king resort, yellowstone national park lodges, best western sheridan center, courtyard by marriott rapid city, need more information.

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Are you ready? Whether you want to explore local places or plan a vacation, you'll find a park to suit your interests!

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Park rangers share their top 10 insider tips to #PlanLikeAParkRanger when visiting their parks! Get the insider scoop.

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Join the #RecreateResponsibly movement to protect America's treasures while looking out for each other's health and safety.

Visit from anywhere. Explore national parks with digital tours, ranger programs, educational opportunities, and more.

National heritage areas join natural, historic, and cultural features through community-based conservation for all.

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Last updated: January 12, 2024

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Enjoy a refined take on the art of group travel.

Experience true adventures on these Collette small group tours.

Set out on inspiring journey on these faith-based travel experiences.

Explore the world's most beautiful waterways.

Come to know your destination during a single-hotel stay.

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Find travel tips, travel advice, and answers to some of the most commonly asked travel questions here.

Meet the Tour Managers that enhance your travel experience at every turn.

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National Parks of America From $4,999 $4,399 pp*

*Rate is per person, land only, double occupancy, tour inclusions and available options may vary based on departure date. Please select a date below for more details.

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Your Tour at a Glance

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Tour Activity Level

The activity level for this tour:

You’re a leisurely traveler. You typically take it easy and discover the energy of a new place by people-watching or soaking in the atmosphere at a local café. You can climb at least one flight of stairs, board a coach, and walk unassisted at a relaxed pace for up to 60 minutes without difficulty. You can easily handle altitudes up to 5,000 feet.

You like a balanced approach to travel. Walking two to three miles over the course of a day is no problem for you. You can partake in a two-hour leisurely walking tour, covering up to two miles (with included breaks). You can handle a variety of terrains, from cobblestone streets to moderate hills with relative ease and without assistance. You can climb two flights of stairs with ease. There may be 1 to 2 days on this tour when walking tours can cover 3 to 4 miles over uneven terrain. You can handle altitudes up to 6,000 feet.

You’re an on-the-go traveler. You don’t want to miss a thing, so walking and standing for longer periods of time (2-3 hours) isn’t a big deal. A moderately paced two-and-a-half-hour walking tour, covering several miles, hills, and uneven surfaces, is no problem for you. Walking four miles over the course of a day is very doable, as is climbing into and out of various modes of transportation (tuk-tuk, cable car, zodiac, etc.). You can climb three flights of stairs easily and handle altitudes between 6,000 and 9,000 feet. Expect some longer days balanced with free time to recharge or set out on your own adventure. This level is not a fit for travelers who require mobility assistance devices.

You’re ready to seize the day, whatever it may bring. You lead an active life at home (walking, biking, and half or full day hikes are things you may enjoy) and 10,000 steps a day is normal for you. You can handle longer walking tours (more than 3 hours covering 3+ miles at a steady clip) and activities that involve traversing uneven terrain, steep slopes, standing for periods of time, and varying altitudes and temperatures. You don’t mind being on the go with some early starts, late-nights, and full days. You can handle altitudes of 9,000 feet or higher with little to no issue. This level is not appropriate for travelers who use wheelchairs, walkers, and other mobility assistance devices.

National Parks of America

National Parks of America

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Enhance your trip, optional excursions.

Add some more spice to your tour with this optional excursions.

Pre and Post Night Stays

Enjoy arriving early or checking out late with our Pre and Post night stays.

Tour Extensions

Extension style.

The extension style for this tour:


You’re accompanied by a Tour Manager throughout the extension, except for any time that’s set aside for independent discovery.

You’re accompanied by a Tour Manager part of the time, for some guided excursions. The rest of the time, you’re at leisure to explore the destination your own way.

You’re not accompanied by a Tour Manager during your extension stay. You’ll access locales you wish to visit on your own, and are free to create your own adventure.

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From $4,399 pp *

12 Days • 16 Meals


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Thank you for joining us on our National Parks of America tour, and for sharing your feedback! We hope to travel with you again soon.


Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback to our Traveler Relations team and a member of the team will reach out to you to discuss your specific issues and concerns. Your feedback is very important to us, we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve your issues.

Thank you for joining us on our National Parks of America Tour, and for sharing your feedback! We hope to travel with you again soon.

We are pleased to hear you had a great time on our National Parks of America tour! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, we hope to see you again soon!

Thank you for joining us and for sharing your feedback! We look forward to traveling with you again soon.

Hello, thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback to our Traveler Relations team and a member of the team will reach out to you to discuss your specific issues and concerns. Your feedback is very important to us, we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve your issues.

Hello, thank you so much for joining us on our National Parks tour and for sharing your feedback.

Thank you for joining us on our National Parks of America tour and for sharing your feedback! We look forward to traveling with you again soon.

Thank you for joining us on our America's National Parks & Denver tour! We look forward to traveling with you again soon.

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Thank you for joining us on our National Parks of America tour! We look forward to traveling with you again soon.

us national parks tours

Thank you for joining us on our National Parks of America tour and for sharing those beautiful photos! We look forward to traveling with you again soon!

Hello, thank you for joining us on our National Parks of America tour and for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback to our Traveler Relations team and a member of the team will reach out to you to discuss your specific issues and concerns. Your feedback is very important to us, we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve your issues.

Hello, thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback to our Traveler Relations team and the member of the team will reach out to you to discuss your specific issues and concerns. Your feedback is very important to us, we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve your issues.

Hello, thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback about the food to our Traveler Relations team and the member of the team will reach out to you to discuss your specific issues and concerns. Your feedback is very important to us, we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve your issues.

Thank you for joining us to the National Parks! We hope to see you again soon!


Hello, thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback to our Traveler Relations team. Your feedback is very important to us, we appreciate your patience as we work to resolve your issues.

We are pleased to hear you had a great time on our National Parks tour! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, we hope to see you again soon!

We are pleased to hear you had a great time on our America's National Parks & Denver tour! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, we hope to see you again soon!

We are pleased to hear you had a great time on our Pacific Northwest and California tour! Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us, we hope to see you again soon!

Good trip. Could have been better.

Outstanding customer service from start to finish..

We are so happy to hear you had a wonderful time on tour! Thank you for joining us to the National Parks and for taking the time to leave a 5-star review, we look forward to traveling with you again soon!

Beautiful America

We are so happy to hear you had a wonderful time on tour with Kim! Thank you for joining us to the National Parks and leaving a 5-star review, we look forward to traveling with you again soon!

Thank you for joining us to the National Parks! We look forward to traveling with you again soon!

Can't wait to do it again!!

We are so happy to hear you had a wonderful time on tour! Thank you for joining us to the National Parks, we look forward to traveling with you again soon!

We are so happy to hear you had a wonderful time on tour with Brian! Thank you for joining us to the National Parks, we look forward to traveling with you again soon!

There was just not enough room between the seats on the bus.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback about the bus to our team, but if you would like to set up time with one of our customer care representatives to share more about your experience we would be happy to set that up for you.

Very good tour

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback about the bus to our team, but if you would like to set up time with one of our customer care representatives to share more about your experience we would be happy to set that up for you. We appreciate you being a loyal traveler with us and hope to travel with you again soon.

Thank you so much for sharing your feedback, we have passed your kind words along to our tour manager team! We look forward to traveling with you again soon.

Great tour guide.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback about our National Parks of America tour to our product team. They will review it and use it to improve the tour for future guests.

Hello, thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback about our National Parks of America tour to our product team. They will review it and use it to improve the tour for future guests.

well planned

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us. We look forward to traveling with you again soon!

Awesome guide, awesome bus driver, awesome experience

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us! We look forward to traveling with you again soon.

It was a great trip. Good guide and driver. Very professional.

Thank you so much for the recommendation! We look forward to traveling with you again soon.

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback to our product and tour manager teams. They will review it and use it to improve the tour for future guests. If you would like to set up time with one of our customer care representatives to share more about your experience we would be happy to set that up for you. We appreciate you being a loyal traveler with us and hope to travel with you again soon.

We visited more sites than we would ever have done on our own!

It was a wonderful time, excellent service overall. $$ we’ll spent..

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. We have forwarded your feedback to our product and tour manager teams. They will review it and use it to improve the tour for future guests. If you would like to set up a time with one of our customer care representatives to share more about your experience we would be happy to set that up for you. We appreciate you being a loyal traveler with us and hope to travel with you again soon.

We love the tour. We love to Janice Love to be our tour to be our tour maa

Would like to have stopped at devil’s tower on our way to rapid city, we saw a lot, very professional and excellent service, most of the problems were the lodging [cold food and bad heating], collette national park tour awesome, very well organized, best tour director ever,educational and lots of fun, so much to see, great trip with great tour guide, a personal and professional company with a quality product, possibly best trip ever, terrific trip, the tour was excellent. the scenery was amazing at every turn., lifetime experience , an incredible memory, the accommodations, food and guide were excellent. would do it again, excellent tour, would highly recommend it., need to fix a couple of things. seat policy and farewell dinner.

Thank you for traveling with Collette on our National Parks tour. We're sorry to hear about the issues you experienced with the seat rotation policy and the farewell dinner. Your feedback will be reviewed by the Product Design Team so that the overall touring experience for our guests can be improved.

Great way to see so much of our great country.

Better than expected, the national park tour can sell itself with their beauty. ending the tri.

Thank you for traveling with Collette on our National Parks of America tour. We're sorry to hear you were disappointed with your tour manager. Your feedback will be reviewed by the Tour Management department so that the overall touring experience for our guests can be improved.

A most enjoyable Tour

Loved the vacation. all went well., very good tour, worth every penny., breathtaking views of god's creation in our western usa., it was totally awesome, great trip., fantastical, a wonderful see-the-basics tour of the national parks, been o n 3 tours with collette was a little disappointed..

Thank you for traveling with Collette on our National Parks of America tour. We're very sorry to hear you were disappointed with some of the included meals. Your feedback will be reviewed by the Product Design Team so that the overall touring experience for our guests can be improved.

The trip was well-organized and diversified to satisfy the group.

Excellent guide and excellent bus driver, outstanding, great trip. excellent guide and driver., would recommend to anyone great sights, great experience.good value for the money..

Thank you for traveling with Collette to the National Parks. We're very sorry for the issue you experienced at the hotel in Sheridan, Wyoming. Your comments will be reviewed by the Product Design Team to ensure that they follow up with hotel management regarding this issue.

Another great trip fromCollette!

Well worth the price to see our wonderful national parks..

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An amazing experience

A trip well worth taking, outstanding lewes de, was as advertised, great experience, national parks tour, i have already signed up for another collette river cruise., great tour, wonderful trip, great trip always informed along the way,, almost perfect, collette does it right, fantastic, very enjoyable, had a wonderful trip; things went perfect as far as i was concerned, tour guide excelled, absolutely wonderful, all in all happy ivwent, wonderful national parks adventure, an excellent way to see the national parks, a good overview of america’s national parks.

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National Parks

Tauck's National Park vacations offer inside experiences thanks to our relationships and partnerships within the parks. With exceptional access, we are able to handle all of the details for you so you can spend more time enjoying these must-see places at the best time of day and with fewer crowds.

National Parks


Welcome to the National Parks

Our relationships with the national parks runs deep going back many many years. With that... we are able to show you something pretty special as you visit must-see places at their must-see times of day and when you stay at inside-the-park hotels, the crowds are fewer and the experience is richer. There's no planning and no organizing – and the best of all, no driving; we take care of all the details. And at the end of the day, hearing "I've seen and done everything I hoped to" is music to our ears.

Explore three national parks on one journey, grand teton national park, niagara falls, ontario, "canada's capital cities plus niagara falls" and "cruising the great lakes: chicago to toronto".

Comprised of three waterfalls – American Falls, Horseshoe Falls and Bridal Veil Falls – Niagara Falls water stems from the upper Great Lakes; the river is estimated to be 12,000 years old. Journey to thundering Niagara Falls for a catamaran cruise near the plunging waters and misty spray of the waterfalls – getting wet is a distinct possibility – and explore the quaint Victorian village of Niagara-on-the-Lake with its flower-filled, tree-lined streets.

Yellowstone National Park

Bryce canyon national park, a feast for the eyes... and the soul.

Oranges and pinks never seen anywhere else dance and dazzle the eye as sunlight plays over Bryce Canyon National Park, where wind and rain have sculpted the canyon's famously quirky, logic-defying "hoodoos" that, according to Paiute legend, were once human before a powerful god called Coyote froze them into rock (for the record, the rock is Navajo sandstone). This universe of warm colors literally glows at sunrise and sunset – a sight to see that can send shivers up your spine. The park reveals nature dressed in a coat of many colors – hues beyond imagining, deeply satisfying to the eye, and energizing to the spirit.

Grand Canyon National Park

Not just a hole in the ground....

Surely you have stumbled upon some other planet... or at least it feels that way at Grand Canyon National Park. Your first glimpse of the enormous Grand Canyon strains credulity. What giants have been playing with the rock here? Or what cataclysmic force of the universe? Then the drama starts. Clouds, shadows, and the shifting sun keep transforming the landscape. As the sun flames in the west, canyon walls turn red while the giants paint the sky, creating masterpieces so beautiful they freeze you in your tracks. The Grand Canyon sprawls wide open, carved out by the Colorado River, revealing two billion years of Earth's history; here is where air meets land, where you meet what feels like destiny, with just the white-tailed Kaibab squirrel, only found here, as witness.

Yosemite National Park

Through the eyes of john muir and ansel adams.

What a young Ansel Adams saw through his lens as he trekked into the California wilderness more than 100 years ago – as John Muir did a half-century before him – has inspired countless visitors to explore its chiseled landscapes in starry-eyed wonder ever since. You won't find modern conveniences here. Celestial bodies trump electricity. Running water falls from rocks. Residents are furred, finned or feathered. And skyscrapers with names like Half Dome and El Capitan are nature made. Adams was just 14 when he first spied the grandeur of Yosemite National Park, armed with a Kodak Brownie camera his father had given him… and a new era began not only for him, but for the wilderness treasures he spent his lifetime celebrating. His iconic photographs need no words or explanation. Even in black and white, they capture what he felt about places now immortalized for future generations.

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Experience the National Parks

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Welcome to the National Parks... the Tauck Way

Our National Parks are included on many of our immersive journeys for good reason. With a combination of strong cultural heritage, precious landscapes & topography worth protecting, these vast lands need to be discovered so that we all can come to appreciate their beauty and grandeur.

America's canyonlands, yellowstone & grand teton national parks, canadian rockies, whistler & victoria, best of the canadian rockies, traveling with tauck, never settle for ordinary.

Travel Experiences that are as memorable as the places...

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America's Magnificent National Parks

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America's Magnificent National Parks Guided Tour

Natural Wonders and Iconic Landmarks Abound on this 15-day Guided Tour in the U.S.

Explore America's top national parks on this 15-Day guided tour. After an evening in Scottsdale, start your journey in bohemian Sedona, where spiritual seekers and nature lovers alike will revel in its red-hued mountainous landscape. Take a short jaunt to the Grand Canyon, where a Local Expert will show you the wonders of America’s most famed natural beauty. In Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Make Travel Matter and board all-terrain vehicles and ride through the desert with your Navajo guide. Glide through Zion National Park on a private shuttle, before watching the red cliffs and valleys give way to the Rocky Mountains of Grand Teton and Yellowstone. Finally, scale the 563-foot-tall Crazy Horse Memorial and stand face-to-face with the stone carving of the Lakota warrior.

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Start Phoenix, United States of America. End Denver, United States of America.

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This tour version ends in Denver and has a maximum of 40 guests.

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This tour version ends in Rapid City and has a maximum of 40 guests.

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This tour variation ends in Denver and has a maximum of 24 guests.

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This tour version ends in Rapid City and has a maximum of 24 guests.


Customize this tour for a group >

Our specialists can design a bespoke itinerary for you. You'll experience the Insight Difference with a passionate Travel Director, all tailored to your group's personal interests. 

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Every one of our tours includes at least one conscious travel experience that supports one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). Look out for yours within the day-by-day trip itinerary.

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Net-zero by 2050

Travel knowing our 4-point climate action plan will ensure net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

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Support Local

Your tour directly supports local communities by visiting family-run businesses, UNSECO sites and places of cultural significance.

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Sustainable Practices

Every part of our business, from trip design to how we run our offices, aligns to our 5-year sustainability strategy which ensures a positive impact on people, the planet and wildlife.


Philanthropic Efforts

Our not-for-profit, the TreadRight Foundation, invests in nature-based solutions to address climate change.

You’ll make a positive impact to people, planet and wildlife on this tour



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Legends of the American West

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National parks tours 2023 & 2024 discount 50%.

On any of the escorted national parks tours & vacations we have to offer, you'll journey through the dramatic scenery only America's National Parks can offer. On a number of escorted National Parks tours, which includes America's first National Park - Yellowstone National Park, you can discover geysers, mud pots, and bubbling pools. Drive through the wildlife and catch a glimpse of several bears in Bear Country USA. Take a picture of the largely composed granite of Mount Rushmore. See the maze of canyons of the Grand Canyon. Gaze the gorgeous features of the Grand Tetons.

Now choosing among the best national parks tours 2023 and 2024 has never been easier, as we have done all the work for you. Choose from national parks bus tours, train trips and even driving vacations of the US National parks. There are so many National Parks to visit, that it is hard to know where to start. There are e scorted national parks  tours for individuals, couples and families to experience the best that nature has to offer. Did you know that there are a total of fifty nine protected national parks in America? The National Park Service, which was founded in 1916 by Congress not only manages and protects, but also preserves the integrity of all its national parks.

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The Ultimate Guide to Exploring America's National Parks

The Ultimate Guide to Exploring America's National Parks

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USA National Parks Explorer

16 days, los angeles to san francisco.

us national parks tours

  • Full itinerary
  • Tour details

Some say vacation, we say adventure of a lifetime! Head out on a 16 day tour through seven of the best national parks in the west. From the ancient Joshua Trees to the Golden Gate Bridge we promise you’ll never have time to be bored. Traverse the sandstone giants of Zion, wander through the hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, feel incredibly small atop the rim of the Grand Canyon, stand at the lowest point of elevation in the U.S. in Death Valley, gaze up in wonder at the tallest trees in the world in Sequoia National Park, and hike through the surreal landscapes of Yosemite Valley. With both cities and nature on the menu, this might be just the escape from reality you’re looking for.

Los Angeles to San Francisco

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Is this tour for me?

Travel style: classic.

All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a great price.

Service Level: Standard

Comfortable tourist-class accommodations with character; mix of public and private transport.

Physical Rating: 3 - Average

Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking.

Trip Type: Small Group

Small group experience; Max 13.

Age requirement: 12+

All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.

Check Your Visa Requirements

Before booking, use our handy entry requirements tool so you know which documents you need to enter and travel through the countries on your trip.

See how your trip uplifts communities

In a number of impactful ways, your adventure directly benefits the local people and places we visit.

Help us spread love around the world — with trees! Together with Planeterra, we'll plant one tree in your name for every travel day.

Trees planted for this trip: 16

Ripple Score

Want to create ripples that change lives? The higher the Ripple Score percentage, the more money stays in the local communities you visit.

Ripple Score for this trip: 85

Map of the route for USA National Parks Explorer

Places visited

  • United States

Day 1 Los Angeles/Palm Springs

Become acquainted with your group and CEO in Los Angeles during a brief orientation before transferring directly to the hotel in Palm Springs. Once here enjoy dinner at your leisure and maybe take a dip in the refreshing waters of the hotel pool.

Exclusive Inclusions:

Day 2 joshua tree.

Venture further into the desert today to explore Joshua Tree National Park. Wander through the park’s famous rock formations and snap some photos of the park’s namesake tree in this desolate landscape. In the evening head back to Palm Springs where you’ll have free time to relax and unwind from the heat of the day.

Day 3 Palm Springs/Zion National Park

Today, travel northeast to Las Vegas where you’ll have some free time to explore the strip or opt for lunch. You’ll depart Las Vegas in the late afternoon for the hotel that you’ll be staying at near Zion National Park.

Day 4 Zion National Park

It’s all about Zion today as you get a chance to wander this beautiful national park in Southwest Utah. Take the shuttle into the park and spend the day exploring and hiking with your fellow travellers.

Admire the monumental sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that tower into the sky and remember you can choose to turn around on these hikes at any point. In the evening, relax at your hotel as you reflect on your day in this wonderful piece of paradise.

Meals included:

Day 5 zion national park/bryce canyon national park.

Depart Zion in the morning and travel with the group to Bryce Canyon National Park. Once in the park enjoy free time to hike through the wild and weird rock formations fondly known as hoodoos. Visit Inspiration Point, hike the rim trail. Opt to hike the Queen’s Garden and Navajo loop trails or take in the incredible view with a walk along the rim. Head back to the park after dinner for sunset. At night look up and see the magic of the stars in a place that has been designated an International Dark Sky Park.

Day 6 Bryce Canyon, Antelope Canyon, and Monument Valley

We'll jet off this morning to Page, Arizona, the gateway to famous Antelope Canyon and Horseshoe Bend.

Join a local Navajo guide and explore Antelope Canyon; a stunning natural sandstone slot canyon located on tribal lands. Admire the blue sky above from the bottom of the canyon and make sure you bring your camera to take loads of photos.

Afterwards, visit Horseshoe Bend for a short hike to stand atop the steep cliffs overlooking the natural bend in the Colorado River. Today’s adventure will end in Monument Valley where you will have time to relax and unwind after a busy day of sightseeing.

Day 7 Monument Valley/Grand Canyon National Park

This morning you’ll be treated to a sunrise Navajo guided jeep tour of Monument Valley. Admire the majesty and magnetic atmosphere of this special place before continuing on toward the Grand Canyon. En route, stop for lunch at a family-owned Navajo food truck, before arriving at the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon just in time for a spectacular sunset.

Day 8 Grand Canyon National Park

Marvel at the out-of-this-world views as you get up close and personal with the Grand Canyon today. Spend a full day exploring and hiking from the South Rim. There are a variety of hikes to choose from that will take you deeper into the canyon where you can really appreciate the size and depth of this national park. Choose whichever trail you wish or do short bursts of multiple hikes, just make sure you bring plenty of water and take your time.

If you wish to see this natural wonder from a bird’s eye view with an experience you’ll never forget, opt to book the Grand Canyon helicopter tour.

Day 9 Grand Canyon/Las Vegas

Head to Las Vegas from the Grand Canyon this morning where you can spend time in this vibrant city. Explore the strip, grab something to eat, see a glitzy show, or test your luck gambling in one of the casinos.

Day 10 Las Vegas, Death Valley and Bakersfield

In the morning, the group will depart Las Vegas and head to Death Valley. You’ll visit the country's hottest, driest, and lowest national park. Death Valley is a land of extremes and you’ll get a sense of the striking contrast of this park’s landscapes with visits to Furnace Creek, Badwater Basin, and Zabriskie Point. In the evening, settle into your hotel and get some rest for tomorrow’s adventure.

Day 11 Sequoia National Park

Spend the day travelling to Sequoia National Park, home to granite cliffs and ancient giant trees. Once you arrive, set out on a short afternoon hike to explore and stare up in wonder at the tallest trees in the world. Walk the half mile down to General Sherman to see the world’s largest tree at 83 meters (275 feet) high. Trek through the Giant Forest on Congress Trail to see more of these colossal trees. Later, we head to the hotel in Visalia

Day 12 Sequoia National Park

Immerse yourself in Sequoia with a full day to hike in the park. Visit Grant Grove for more opportunities to marvel at these rare giants among the forest. If you’re looking for 360-degree views head up the 2 mile round-trip Buena Vista Peak trailhead to see the High Sierra and the valley below.

Day 13 Yosemite National Park

Hit the road again and travel north through the Sierras to the south entrance of Yosemite National Park. Head straight into the park to take in iconic sights like Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridalveil Fall.

Day 14 Yosemite National Park

It’s all about getting active and exploring the landscapes of Yosemite today. From the valley floor, take the park shuttle system to one of the most iconic trails in the park. Hike alongside the Merced River to climb the Mist Trail, getting sprayed by the waters of Vernal Fall. See the water rushing over the edge before crossing the river and climbing the steps to Nevada Fall. From the top enjoy views of the High Sierra including Half Dome, Liberty Cap, and Mount Broderick.

Later, enjoy free time to walk the Lower Yosemite Fall Trail, Bridalveil Fall Trail, relax under the towering granite monoliths of Half Dome or El Capitan, or opt to rent bikes and cruise around the valley.

Day 15 Yosemite National Park/San Francisco

Leave Yosemite in the morning and drive across the Central Valley with the group to San Francisco. Join your CEO for a driving tour through some of San Francisco's most iconic highlights. We will drive to the bohemian neighborhood of Haight Ashbury for lunch, followed by a drive through the Golden Gate park. What trip to San Fran would be complete without seeing the Golden Gate Bridge? Depending on time, step foot on this famous red suspension bridge or find a great viewing point to take some photos. There is free time in the evening to explore the colorful Fisherman's wharf.

Day 16 San Francisco

Spend a free morning in the city searching for the best place to have breakfast before departing. The tour ends mid morning.

What's Included

  • Your G for Good Moment: Native Grill Food Truck Experience
  • Your Welcome Moment: Welcome Moment - Meet Your CEO and Group
  • Joshua Tree National Park visit
  • Zion National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park visit
  • Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon visits
  • Navajo guided Monument Valley jeep tour
  • Full day hiking in Grand Canyon National Park
  • Drive Route 66 drive
  • Death Valley National Park visit
  • Sequoia National Park visit
  • Yosemite National Park visit
  • Entrance fees to all national parks and monuments with hiking and walking excursions
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities


Hotel (15 nts).

4 breakfasts, 5 lunches Allow USD650-845 for meals not included.


Air-conditioned private vehicle, hiking, walking.

Staff & experts

1 CEO (Chief Experience Officer) throughout.

Available extras  (Add these to your tour when you book)

Grand canyon helicopter tour - from $350.00.

The Grand Canyon helicopter ride is a must! Enjoy a bird's-eye view for 45 to 50 minutes as you fly over the canyon, taking in the stark contrast of the blue-green Colorado River against the thousand shades of red rock found in the canyon. From above, you can fully appreciate the greatness of the gorge and see why it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

My Own Room - From $2849.00

If you're travelling solo and would prefer to have your own private room throughout your trip, select this option during the online booking process.

Make it a private tour

Book this tour as a private departure, with your own CEO and all the benefits of a G Adventures group tour.


U.S. National Parks: The Grand Canyon to Yellowstone

4.7 out of 5 stars

zion national park in utah

You have up to 60 days to get a full refund

Feel good about putting a tour on the calendar today: Enroll in AutoPay or pay in full when you book, and if you change your mind,  you’ll get your money back .†

Discover the untouched wilderness and enduring spirit of the American West on this National Parks Tour.

This itinerary is proof that you don’t have to go far to satisfy your wanderlust. Each day displays a new destination—and with it, new landscapes and adventures swathed in dusty oranges, sherbet pinks, and gemstone greens. You’ll follow the footsteps of America’s Indigenous peoples and learn about the explorers and settlers that followed them. Explore the ingeniously carved cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde in Colorado, gaze into the depths of the Grand Canyon in Arizona and stand in the shadow of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming. And if frontier life beckons, consider extending your trip to Montana’s gritty, glacial expanse.

Special departures of this itinerary

Albuquerque Balloon Festival

Your tour package includes

  • 11 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 11 breakfasts
  • 3 dinners with beer or wine
  • 8 sightseeing tours

Included highlights

  • Loretto Chapel
  • Mesa Verde National Park
  • Monument Valley
  • Grand Canyon
  • Zion National Park

us national parks tours

An expert specializing in tours of this region is here to help.

Day-by-day itinerary

us national parks tours

Welcome to New Mexico! You’re officially in “The Land of Enchantment.” The monicker has been in use since the 1930s and when you look around, you’ll know why. As you transfer to your hotel in Santa Fe, keep an eye out for the Sandia Crest. This spruce- and fir-topped ridge is the highest point in the Sandia-Manzano Mountains at 10,679 feet, about twice the elevation of Denver, Colorado. Settle into your hotel this evening and prepare to meet the oldest state capital in the United States. (Santa Fe was founded in 1610—but the area was inhabited by Pueblo peoples for hundreds of years prior.)  

Enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of New Mexico’s capital. Santa Fe was settled by a Spanish conquistador nearly 500 years ago, and while we often picture America’s oldest buildings standing on the East Coast, this city boasts both one of the oldest European-style homes and one of the oldest churches in the United States. Join your guide today for a panoramic tour of this haven of history and art, known as “The City Different” for its inimitable mix of cultures.

  • Catch a sweeping view of Santa Fe, the Jemez Mountains, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains from the Cross of the Martyrs overlook. The cross honors 21 Franciscan friars who perished in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, one of the few successful Indigenous rebellions against colonial settlers.
  • Pass the Romanesque Revival Saint Francis Cathedral, built of yellow limestone quarried in nearby Lamy. (Did you know: Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Willa Cather wrote a fictionalized account of the cathedral’s origins in Death Comes for the Archbishop .)
  • Travel through the plaza in the heart of the city to view a pair of beloved icons: the circa-1610 Palace of the Governors and the State Capitol, known as the “Roundhouse.” From above, the only circular state capitol in the United States resembles the Zia sun symbol (You’ll recognize it from the New Mexico state flag.) Although the resemblance wasn’t intentional, the circular design was chosen to symbolize openness and inclusivity.
  • Enter Loretto Chapel to view its miraculous staircase, whose construction is an engineering marvel steeped in lore. This intricately turned staircase makes two full 360-degree twists to reach the choir loft without a center pole for structural support, resting its entire weight on the bottom stair. Legend has it that a mysterious carpenter appeared with a donkey and tools to build the staircase—only to then disappear without a trace.

Later in the afternoon, enjoy a welcome lunch served with beer or wine with your fellow travelers.

The raw beauty of the Southwest unfolds as you make the journey from New Mexico to Colorado. Watch the lush greenery and towering trees of Carson National Forest fade out of view as rolling hills give way to the rugged terrain of the San Juan Mountains, part of the famous Rockies. You’ll stop in the Old West frontier mining town of Durango en route to Mesa Verde National Park. Its stark, faded vermilion landscapes have beckoned artists, authors, and filmmakers for generations; if these vistas look familiar, they probably are.

  • Pass by Abiquiu Lake, longtime home of artist Georgia O’Keeffe. Sited at the foot of the Cerro Pedernal mesa—itself immortalized in many of O’Keeffe’s works—it’s the filming locale of Western favorites like Wyatt Earp and City Slickers .
  • Continue to the Echo Amphitheater, a rock formation tucked into stratified sandstone cliffs marked by an unusual mineral varnish staining the surface like blood. If you believe local legend, it was the site of two grizzly killings, and the echoes you hear are the cries of the doomed.
  • Take in the stunning landscapes that inspired O’Keeffe’s artistry. Pay attention to the dramatic play of light and shadow, intense colors, and unique forms that make up the Southwestern terrain that captivated her.
  • Enjoy a stop in Durango, a town steeped in history with a well-preserved downtown area. Take a stroll along Main Avenue—chock-full of Victorian-era architecture and art galleries—and soak in its small-town atmosphere.

Sit down for an included dinner this evening, served with beer or wine.

Take a guided tour of Mesa Verde National Park, where ancient history and arresting landscapes converge against clear blue skies. Find yourself in the land of the Ancestral Puebloans: Also known as the Anasazi, they once inhabited this region, and their homes are remarkably preserved.

  • View the 800-year-old dwellings that honeycomb the walls of the canyon. Perched precariously on cliffsides, they offer a glimpse into the lives of the Ancestral Puebloans, showcasing their ingenuity in adapting to the natural landscape.
  • Immerse yourself in Mesa Verde’s craggy terrain: towering sandstone cliffs emerging from a desert landscape of rust-red rocks and sagebrush-covered mesas.
  • Enjoy free time to browse the unique treasures of the gift shop, where you can find authentic Native American crafts and artifacts.

As your journey continues, soak in the panoramic vistas of Monument Valley, where iconic rock formations like the Mexican Hat capture your imagination with their playful shapes. Be sure to take plenty of photos of this landscape before continuing to Kayenta, Arizona, in the heart of the Navajo Nation.

This evening, enjoy an included dinner.

Please note: Tonight’s dinner is served alcohol-free as it takes place on Navajo Nation territory.

Stop in Tuba City to learn about the culture and living history of the Navajo at the Explore Navajo Interactive Museum. Here, immersive exhibits and interactive displays open a window into the traditional way of life, spiritual beliefs, and artistic expressions of the tribe. You’ll gain insight into the pivotal role played by Navajo leader Peter MacDonald and the World War II Code Talkers, whose linguistic contributions helped the Allies secure victory.  

Please note: Meeting Peter MacDonald is not guaranteed.  

Afterward, dive into the vibrant atmosphere of the Cameron Trading Post, a historic outpost that has served travelers and locals alike for more than a century. Browse a curated selection of Navajo artwork, jewelry, and crafts, and learn about the time-honored traditions of the artisans who created them.  

As you continue your journey to the Grand Canyon, feel the anticipation build for the awe-inspiring spectacle that awaits. After arriving at the South Rim, set out on a scenic walk guided by your Tour Director, who’ll illuminate the geological wonders and natural splendor of the landscape.  

  • Marvel at towering rock formations that bear witness to millions of years of geological evolution, their striated layers revealing the passage of time in hues of red, orange, and ochre. Pause to take in panoramic vistas that stretch to the horizon, where the vast expanse of the Grand Canyon unfolds endlessly before you.  
  • Let your gaze catch on the mighty Colorado River meandering along the canyon floor, a dizzying mile below, as a sense of reverence washes over you. Here, you’re reminded of the profound forces that have shaped this landscape and the enduring legacy of those who call this land home.  

To fully appreciate the enormity of the Grand Canyon—it’s not just a name after all—add a helicopter tour to your itinerary and take to the skies for an electrifying perspective.  

Prefer to explore the Grand Canyon on terra firma? Craft your own walk or hike to the South Rim by hopping on the free shuttle from your hotel and going at your own pace. Dozens of trails await you, and the shuttle will whisk you back when you’re ready to rest. 

us national parks tours

Grand Canyon Helicopter Ride

From $259 per person

Continue your scenic journey through this rough-hewn portion of the Southwest as you traverse Vermilion Cliffs National Monument en route to Zion National Park. Here, the earth’s rich tapestry flashes hues of yellow and orange as deeply eroded sedimentary rocks rise majestically into the azure sky.  

  • Pass the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, whose history of human settlement dates back more than 12,000 years. (Its petroglyphs are some of the oldest in the United States.) You’ll recognize it by the undulating layers of colorful rock strata that look like blazing orange waves.  
  • Delve into the history of Zion National Park, named by 19th-century Mormon settlers who were awestruck by its otherworldly beauty and reminded of their heavenly city. 
  • Experience the park from a unique vantage point aboard an open-air tram, where a guide will unravel the park’s geological wonders, diverse flora and fauna, and cultural heritage.  
  • Enjoy the sway of winding roads as each bend reveals a new panorama of sandstone monoliths, green valleys, and waterfalls. You may also spot one of the park’s many sheep, goats, and deer.  

Please note: Depending on arrival time and season, you may have time to stay in the park and hike. There are free shuttles that will take you back to your hotel.   

Today, you’ll be making your way to Utah’s capital, Salt Lake City, by way of the surreal landscapes of Bryce Canyon National Park. Long before the arrival of European settlers, Indigenous people inhabited the area; the Paiute tribe had a deep connection to the lands that now constitute the park. The Paiute referred to Bryce Canyon’s hoodoos—huge rock pinnacles—as “Legend People,” believing them to be ancient beings transformed by Coyote, a prominent figure in their mythology.  

Here’s what you can expect at this stop: 

  • Enjoy a guided exploration of the park by bus and on foot. You’ll learn about its unique formations, sculpted over millions of years through the process of erosion. The park sits atop the Paunsaugunt Plateau, where the forces of wind, water, and ice gradually carved out the intricate maze of canyons, fins, and spires that we see today.   
  • Feast your eyes as you get up close and personal with Bryce Canyon’s iconic rock formations. Watch as arches, bridges, and spires made of pink limestone and sandstone change with the shifting light in a bewitching display of color and contrast. 
  • Keep your camera ready as you encounter the park’s famous inhabitants—the hoodoos. These whimsical rock formations, shaped like totems and towers, create a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.  

After stopping at the Inspiration, Sunset, and Sunrise viewpoints, you’ll continue to Salt Lake City. 

Cross into Wyoming on a scenic drive en route to the rustic resort town of Jackson, nestled amid the scenery of the Teton Range. Then, set out to explore Grand Teton National Park, home to the youngest mountain range in the Rockies. The Teton Range began forming during the Miocene Epoch, making it about nine million years young. In contrast, some of the older mountain ranges in the Rockies began sprouting 70 to 40 million years ago.  

  • Drive through picturesque Logan Canyon, where cliffs and lush forests frame the roadway. Watch for wildlife peeking through the dense foliage. Soon, you’ll encounter the turquoise waters of Bear Lake, known as the “Caribbean of the Rockies” for its vibrant hue.  
  • Tour Grand Teton National Park by bus and on foot, taking in the pristine wilderness. With luck, you may encounter elk, black bears, moose, and bison. 
  • Unwind and savor the charm of Jackson this evening. Prepare to swoon over its gallery-lined, quaint streets and to tap your foot (or dance, you’re on vacation after all!) to live music in the town square.  

Please note: The visit to Grand Teton National Park may take place on day 10, depending on seasonality and weather.  

Venture from Jackson to Yellowstone National Park, designated the world’s first national park in 1872, for a full day of sightseeing. We’ll take you from Oxbow Bend’s overlook gazing out to Mount Moran in the Tetons to Yellowstone highlights like the overlook at Artist Point and the roaring Upper and Lower Falls, with plenty of time to stop for photos—and oohs and aahs—along the way.  

  • Immerse yourself in Yellowstone’s untamed wilderness, marked by the forests and meadows carpeting its landscape, and behold its serene centerpiece: Yellowstone Lake.  
  • Experience the thrill of witnessing Old Faithful erupt, its towering plume of steam reaching skyward in a breathtaking crescendo. As you explore the park’s hydrothermal areas, you’ll see and hear—and smell—bubbling mud pots and steaming hot springs. 
  • Listen for the echoing, haunting howls of Yellowstone’s resident grey wolves and look for bison grazing on swaying grasslands, agile mountain goats springing between rocks, and moose wading in tranquil streams.  

If you opted for the Grand Canyon helicopter ride for a bird’s eye view, you might want to add the Snake River float to your itinerary today. Board a raft and drift down the Snake River for postcard-worthy moments of your own. And should an eagle soar overhead, consider this day a success.     If you’d prefer more time in town, Jackson’s Town Square beckons with its wooden boardwalks and famous elk antler arches that adorn each corner. You can also take part in the 100-year-old tradition of the Jackson Hole Rodeo (as a spectator) and check out barrel racing, roping, and live music.

Later, gather with your group at a local restaurant for a farewell dinner.

us national parks tours

Snake River Float

From $129 per person

Transfer to the airport for your flight home or extend your trip and cross another incredible national park off your list. Get in the cowboy spirit with a stop at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch, then spend a full day exploring Glacier National Park’s pristine alpine lakes and gnarled peaks with your Tour Director leading the way. 

Say goodbye to Jackson, crossing the Rocky Mountains and plains of the American West en route to Missoula, Montana’s second-most-populous city. Take in the meandering rivers and stretches of unspoiled vistas that unfurl all around you.

  • Pause to delve into the legacy of the American frontier at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site. You’ll find meticulously preserved ranch buildings, cowboy dormitories, chuckwagons, and smithies that belonged to the early pioneers who shaped the Western frontier.
  • Learn about the saga of the cattle ranching industry, which played a pivotal role in shaping the economy and culture of the American West.
  • Join a park ranger for a tour of the ranch and listen as they regale you with tales of the open range, herding cattle, and tending to the land against the unforgiving backdrop of the Old West.

Please note: The stop at the Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site is time-permitting.

Learn about the area’s culture as you make your way to the Glacier National Park Region today. The park’s lands are part of the history and heritage of the Blackfeet, Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai tribes; you’ll learn how its stories span centuries of Native American traditions, military history, and resilience 

  • Begin your exploration at the Historical Museum at Fort Missoula, discovering its history as a military outpost in the late 19th century. Learn about its transformation into an internment camp during World War II, where Japanese and Italian Americans were detained.  
  • Travel through the Flathead Indian Reservation, home to the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes (CSKT), whose ancestral connections to the land stretch back millennia. You’ll pass the CSKT Bison Range, where herds of the majestic, woolly beasts freely roam the rolling hills. You can witness these creatures in their natural habitat thanks to conservation efforts: In 2022, the area was officially restored to the CSKT, whose award-winning natural resource managers continue working as stewards of the habitat.  

Arrive in the Glacier National Park Region and enjoy a free evening. You’ll want to unwind and rest before tomorrow’s unforgettable trek through the west side of the park.  

Travel along Going-to-the-Sun Road, a national landmark considered one of the world’s most scenic drives. As you traverse the route, prepare to be awed by a symphony of natural wonders. Then, you’ll board smaller vans and ford the high alpine region of the park. The road itself is a feat of engineering. Built between 1921 and 1932, it winds through steep cliffs and narrow ledges and cuts through the Continental Divide at an elevation of 6,600 feet.

(Please note: Activities in Glacier National Park may vary depending on the season and weather conditions.)

  • Marvel at mountain ranges dotted with wildflowers and crashing waterfalls as you wind your way through Glacier National Park, half of the UNESCO-listed Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Lose yourself in this soul-stirring expanse of cedar forests and rocky cliffs and ponder tranquil lakes reflecting the surrounding peaks.
  • Bear witness to the poignant spectacle of melting glaciers, silent sentinels of the changing climate and our planet’s fragile balance.

This evening, enjoy a farewell drink as you celebrate your trip with your fellow group members.

Please note: Due to seasonality concerns, the drive along Going-to-the-Sun Road will be replaced with a Lake McDonald cruise on our May and September departures.

Transfer to Kalispell for your flight home.  

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Overall rating 4.7 out of 5

5 out of 5 stars

Best trip of a life time ever

This tour was very good for us, as we saw national parks and geography of the Western states we had never seen before. The weather was very good for this, and we enjoyed our travel companions company. The views afforded us were awesome, as, for example, the views of the Grand Canyon and the Grand Te...

Traveler photos

us national parks tours

Hotels, flights & FAQ

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Santa Fe

This traditional hotel is located outside the Agua Fria neighborhood. Guests enjoy a fitness center, pool, and business center. Nearby, you’ll find Me...

Far View Lodge

This newly renovated hotel is located outside Mesa Verde National Park. Guests enjoy traditional Western décor and delicious dining. Outside, you’ll b...

Hampton Inn Kayenta

This cozy hotel is located in Monument Valley on the Navajo Reservation. Guests enjoy a fitness center, pool, and laundry service. Nearby, you’ll find...

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Grand Canyon

This comfortable hotel is located just 15 minutes from the Grand Canyon National Park entrance. Guests enjoy the indoor swimming pool, a full breakfas...

Holiday Inn Express Springdale - Zion

This rustic, lodge-style hotel is located in Springdale, Utah next to Zion National Park. Guests enjoy a fitness center, pool, and laundry facilities....

Holiday Inn Express Salt Lake City Downtown

This new hotel is located in the heart of Salt Lake City. Guests enjoy the indoor pool, fitness center, and spa. Nearby you’ll find the Pioneer Memori...

Elk Country Inn

This western hotel is located in the Historic neighborhood. Guests enjoy a fitness room, a free ski shuttle, and a picnic area. Nearby, you’ll find Gr...

Holiday Inn Express & Suites Kalispell

This comfortable hotel is located in Kalispell outside of Glacier National Park. Guests enjoy the indoor pool, sun deck, and fitness center. Nearby yo...

Hilton Garden Inn Missoula

This contemporary hotel is located just minutes from downtown Missoula. Guests enjoy an indoor swimming pool and whirlpool, fitness center, and on-sit...

  • Round-trip flight for your tour
  • Airport transfers at your destination
  • A great price locked in today
  • 24/7 support from our dedicated service team
  • Options for arriving early, staying longer, or requesting an upgrade
  • Flexible rebooking options if your tour itinerary changes
  • Find out more about flights
  • U.S. citizens need valid government-issued identification for air travel within the United States. If you plan to use a state-issued ID or driver's license on or after May 7, 2025, it will need to meet Real ID requirements. Real ID compliant versions of these IDs will have either a yellow or black star, white star inside a yellow or black circle, or a white star inside a bear in the top righthand corner. Please visit for more information.
  • In order to enter the United States, Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the date of reentry.
  • If you are not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each destination country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
  • You can see the most up-to-date entry requirements for the destination(s) you’ll visit on tour by going to and searching the code NPT.
  • Round-trip flights booked through Go Ahead Tours arrive in Albuquerque, New Mexico and depart from Jackson, Wyoming (or Kalispell, Montana on the tour extension).
  • When you arrive in Albuquerque, a Go Ahead representative will be waiting for you in the arrivals hall with a Go Ahead sign or a sign with your name(s). If you don’t see a representative immediately, please be patient and stay in the arrivals area. They may be assisting another traveler who has also just arrived and will be back shortly.
  • Transfers to and from the airport at your destination are included for travelers who have purchased their flights through Go Ahead Tours. Travelers who purchase their own flights may request airport transfers with Go Ahead Tours for an additional cost if they are arriving or departing on the standard day.

Physical Activity Level

This is a moderate physical activity-level tour. You can expect casual walks and plenty of time to explore throughout the course of the tour.

Tour Pacing

This is a very fast-paced tour. The pace of a tour itinerary considers how often you’ll switch hotels, the amount of planned daily activities, and how you’ll get from place to place. You can expect:

  • Four 1-night stays
  • Most days and evenings full of included activities (more if you add excursions)
  • Most transportation by private motor coach
  • Daily bus time varies and can be lengthy

Walking, Terrain & Physical Requirements

  • Travelers should be prepared to walk 2 miles per day - this includes city streets, paved trails, dirt paths, stairs, and hills.
  • Travelers can expect to walk on some inclines and ledges with no railings when visiting the Grand Canyon.
  • Travelers should be healthy enough to participate in all included walks without assistance.
  • Please Note: Adding optional excursions may increase the total amount of walking on your tour.

Climate Considerations

  • Travelers can expect a wide variety of climates and altitudes from the dry, desert-like climate of the southwest to the cooler mountain climates of Wyoming.
  • In the summer months (June-September), travelers can expect heatwaves with temperatures consistently above 90F in the southwest.
  • On the tour extension in Glacier County, travelers should expect even cooler climates in May and September
  • Please be aware that you will be traveling to altitudes as high as 6,000 feet above sea level.

Physical Activity & Tour Pace Questions

  • Go Ahead Tours and the Tour Director who accompanies your group are unable to provide special mobility or luggage handling assistance to travelers on tour. The responsibility of the Tour Director is to ensure the group enjoys a smooth and informative journey, and they can’t be relied on to provide individualized assistance to any one traveler.
  • This tour moves at a reasonable pace to avoid missing scheduled stops. The rest of the group cannot miss any scheduled activities because of the needs of an individual.
  • Due to the pace and physical activity level of this tour, mobility aids such as wheelchairs or walkers will be difficult to use and are not recommended. Please notify Go Ahead Tours before your departure if you plan to bring these on tour with you.
  • If you have mobility concerns or tour pace questions, please visit our Help Center or send a message to our Customer Experience Team. We’re here to help!
  • Most transportation on this tour is by private motor coach. Private motor coaches have steps required to board and often do not provide access to ramps or lifts.
  • Please note that our travelers are limited to one checked bag and one carry-on bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches.
  • A checked bag may not be included in your airline ticket.
  • Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check baggage or exceed baggage size and weight restrictions. Be advised that you are responsible for any baggage fees incurred on all flights.
  • Contact your airline(s) for baggage size and weight restrictions for your flights.
  • Make sure you label your baggage and keep valuables, medication, and documents in your carry-on bag.
  • Travelers must manage their own luggage throughout tour as porters are not guaranteed. This includes at hotels and airports.
  • We recommend packing lightweight, loose-fitting clothing that can be easily layered to accommodate varying temperatures, as well as a light jacket or rainwear.
  • A sturdy pair of walking shoes or sneakers is recommended for sightseeing.
  • You may want to pack dressier attire if you plan to visit a high-end restaurant or attend a special performance.
  • We recommend packing a reusable water bottle to cut down on single use plastic waste.
  • We recommend packing your Insurance Card (from your primary insurance provider) in your carry on luggage.
  • Go Ahead handpicks every hotel to strike the balance of comfort, location, and local charm.
  • Accommodations are typically three to four star hotels.
  • All accommodations include a private bathroom.
  • Most rooms will include a safe for valuables.
  • Your hotels will have Wifi, but it may be limited to common areas.
  • Elevators in hotels are not guaranteed.
  • Some hotels on this tour require travelers to walk with their luggage a few blocks as buses cannot drop travelers off right out front.
  • We cannot guarantee that your hotel accommodations will have laundry services or facilities. We recommend checking directly with the hotel once they are confirmed about 30 days prior to departure.
  • Specific accommodations will vary based on your departure date.
  • Excursions are available for purchase prior to departure, and most excursions will be available for purchase while you are on tour directly through your mobile app for an additional $10 USD.
  • We recommend purchasing excursions at least 3 days prior to your tour departure. Please note some excursions have advance booking deadlines. Check your tour itinerary for more information to ensure you don’t miss the deadline to add them.
  • Optional excursions may be canceled on tour due to reasons like low enrollment, weather or unexpected closures. If an excursion you signed up for is canceled by Go Ahead Tours, you will be refunded the full cost of the excursion. Please note it may take up to 60 days for your refund to be processed.
  • Your Tour Director may offer their own optional excursions which can only be purchased on tour via cash (in local currency).
  • At least 60 days prior to departure, check with your doctor or healthcare provider for the latest updates and entry requirements, or visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's website at .
  • If you have dietary restrictions and/or food allergies, please notify Go Ahead Tours at least 30 days prior to your departure by logging in to your account and updating your traveler info. To update this information closer to your departure date, please contact our Customer Experience Team.
  • If you have medication that you take daily, be sure you have enough for each day of the tour as well as any possible delays encountered.
  • Most of our itineraries include headsets used during certain sightseeing tours so travelers can hear their guides or Tour Director. If you use an assisted listening device, such as a hearing aid or cochlear implant, please visit our Help Center for more information or contact our customer experience team. Please note that at this time not all our destinations offer headsets due to supplier limitations.
  • Altitudes visited on this tour (6,000 ft above sea level), can sometimes cause breathing difficulties for travelers who have heart problems or respiratory ailments. If you suffer from any of these conditions, please speak to your doctor regarding any potential health risks.
  • The water is safe to drink throughout your tour unless posted otherwise.
  • This tour includes one lunch and three dinners. Included meals may be plated set menus, buffet or family style depending on the location. Dinners include one glass of beer, wine, or soft drink and water, coffee and tea.
  • Breakfast each morning is also included at the hotel and is typically buffet style with hot and cold options.
  • The cuisine of the American southwest combines influences from Spanish colonial settlers, Mexican staples, and Native American tradition. Expect dishes spiced with chile peppers, like enchiladas, tacos, and chili con carne.
  • The western region of the United States is known for barbecue, especially in the plains and mountain states of Wyoming and Colorado where the cowboy tradition lives on. Try a bison burger or a steak for a true local dining experience.
  • At the conclusion of your tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity in local currency. Please keep current exchange rates in mind.
  • We recommend tipping the equivalent of $10-$12USD per person per day for your Tour Director and the equivalent of $3USD per person per day for your driver.
  • If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD per local guide.
  • Tips can only be paid in cash.
  • The cost of porterage is included in your tour price, and it is not necessary to tip baggage handlers.
  • You will use the U.S. dollar on this tour.
  • Better rates of exchange are usually available overseas, although it’s worth ordering some currency from your local bank to use when you first arrive.
  • We strongly advise that you take debit/bank cards and credit cards, which can be used to withdraw cash at local banks as needed.
  • You can use most debit/credit cards at ATMs on the international networks Cirrus and Plus, but make sure to check with your home bank about withdrawal fees.
  • International banks and businesses primarily accept debit and credit cards that work with the EMV chip system. If you do not already have at least one debit or credit card with a chip in it, we strongly recommend requesting one from your bank prior to your tour.
  • Plan ahead and bring cash to tip your tour director, local guides, and bus drivers.
  • To ensure you feel prepared before traveling on tour, we strongly recommend you download the EF Go Ahead Tours mobile app. The app is free and provides important deadlines, entry requirements, your detailed itinerary, packing tips and more. You can also connect with fellow travelers through the chat feature in the app.
  • Wifi is available in most hotels, though some charges may apply.
  • There is no Wifi on any of the motor coaches.
  • Please contact your mobile service provider for information on roaming charges.
  • Your Tour Director will be leading your group throughout your journey. You will have the same Tour Director throughout your tour.
  • The role of the Tour Director is not only to provide information and context on the destinations you visit, but also to confirm services, coordinate inclusions, prepare each days’ activities and support travelers while on tour. As such, they must focus on the success of the group, and cannot provide individualized assistance to any one traveler.
  • One of the benefits of traveling with EF Go Ahead Tours is our on tour emergency support team.
  • Our extensive network of offices around the world, and our integration of ISO 31000: Risk Management Guidelines, help our dedicated 24/7 Emergency Service teams anticipate and address on-tour challenges in a flexible and iterative way.
  • This team supports travelers and Tour Directors using a combination of extensive training, simulations, incident response planning, and decades of experience to help manage emergencies if they arise, ranging from personal health concerns or injuries to major world events.
  • As needed, On Tour Support can facilitate additional support for travelers on tour, arrange assistance from outside specialists, and liaise with local and international authorities to help solve on-the-ground issues. In addition, the team is dedicated to supporting and facilitating communication between travelers and families in the event of an emergency while on the road or at home.
  • New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, Utah, and Wyoming (and Montana on the tour extension) are on Mountain Time (MT), which is 2 hours behind Eastern Time (ET). Please note that Arizona does not observe daylight saving time and is on Pacific Time (PT) from March through October.
  • When it’s noon in New York City, it’s 10am on tour.
  • When you travel with EF Go Ahead Tours, you’ll make a positive impact on the places you visit, and the people and animals you meet along the way. That’s because our three core Responsible Travel commitments—protecting the environment, supporting local communities, and promoting animal welfare—are at the heart of every tour we offer.
  • Travel, when done responsibly, can make an enormous socio-economic impact to communities. To maximize your impact, eat at locally owned restaurants and shop at local businesses. Ask your Tour Director to point out restaurants they recommend.
  • Prepare for your trip: be aware of the monetary norms such as tipping and negotiating in a market, learn about the destination’s forms of etiquette, and take some time to learn a few words in the local language.
  • When interacting with locals, make sure to ask people for permission before you take their picture, and approach cultural differences with empathy and an open mind.
  • EF Go Ahead Tours encourages our travelers to limit their waste while on the road, especially single use plastics. You can avoid single use plastics by packing your own toiletries, using electronic documents, and bringing a reusable water bottle and shopping bag. If you need to use plastics or paper, please recycle.
  • Environment: On this tour, we recommend the use of a reusable water bottle, as the local drinking water is safe for travelers. Your Tour Director can provide additional guidance on local water standards. Make sure to bring a reusable water bottle to cut down on single use plastics.
  • Environment: When visiting national parks, reserves, or other protected areas, please do not remove anything from the natural environment or leave any litter. Carry out what you carried in.

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us national parks tours

4.6 out of 5 stars

us national parks tours

4.5 out of 5 stars

Western USA National Parks Loop

5 days | explore the national parks of the usa’s wild west.

Jeep excursion in Monument Valley, Utah, USA

Deserts, canyons, lakes and valleys await on a five-day adventure through western USA’s most spectacular national parks. Hike through the diverse scenery of Zion National Park, marvel at sandstone spires in Bryce Canyon National Park, join a Navajo guide to learn about the history of Monument Valley and take in one of the natural wonders of the world at Grand Canyon National Park. Let an expert local guide share stories of the landscape and discover there’s more to each destination than what meets the eye.

Trip overview

  • Hike through the varied landscapes of Zion National Park, taking in views of massive canyon walls and red sandstone cliffs as you go.
  • Learn about the culture and history of Monument Valley during a Navajo guided tour, followed by a traditional homecooked, family-style Navajo lunch.
  • Stroll along the canyon rim in Bryce Canyon National Park to admire the out-of-this-world sandstone spires known as hoodoos.
  • Kayak across the waters of Lake Powell, weaving your way past fascinating rock formations as your leader shares stories of the lake’s history.
  • Marvel at one of the nation’s greatest national parks, The Grand Canyon, and walk along the rim, hike into the canyon or take in an epic sunset or sunrise (depending on season)
  • By travelling on this trip, you’ll learn about our Intrepid Foundation partner, the Grand Canyon Conservancy. Donations help them protect Grand Canyon National Park and support trail restoration, conservation of native plants and wildlife, and educational programs. Intrepid will double the impact by dollar-matching all post-trip donations made to The Intrepid Foundation.
  • This is a fast-paced trip that covers a lot of ground in a short time. You'll be travelling in a private vehicle with your group. Extra space can be tight, and conditions may feel a little cramped. It’s all part of the adventure and a great way to get to know your fellow travellers. Please read the itinerary carefully for travel time estimates.
  • The trip involves a lot of walking through Zion National Park and Bryce National park, so be prepared with hiking shoes, a water bottle and day pack.
  • Lunches will be simple picnic style so perhaps bring some of your own snacks if you think you’ll get hungry between meals.
  • We will be travelling to the desert, which means it is often very warm during the day but cold at night, so make sure you pack the appropriate clothing for all weather.
  • You may also want to check out our Best of Western USA if you have a longer time to explore the region:

Welcome to Las Vegas! The real wild west is home to some of the USA’s most incredible scenery. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 8 am. Then, you’ll hop aboard a private van. Get to know each other over a picnic lunch, then venture into the stunning landscapes of Zion National Park. Join your leader for a guided hike, then spend the night in Springdale – known as the gateway to the park.

  • Hotel (1 night)
  • Zion National Park - Walks

Please make your own way to the hotel lobby to meet your leader at 8 am this morning. It’s recommended you append an extra day or two in Vegas so you have plenty of time to get there.

Your total travel time today is approximately 3 hours.

The exact trail we hike in Zion will depend on the group's interest and ability, and will typically be either the Emerald Pools trail, or the Watchman trail. The hiking is easy to moderate with a distance of approximately 3 miles/4.8 km with 350 ft/107 mt of elevation gain.

After breakfast this morning, it’s time to make tracks for Bryce Canyon National Park – make sure your camera is ready to go, as some of the views you’ll come across today are truly out of this world! Take a short drive in your private vehicle, then spend the morning hiking through the epic landscapes of the park. Walk along the canyon rim and marvel at hundreds of unique sandstone towers, known as hoodoos, that jut out from the natural amphitheatre. Relax while you enjoy a picnic lunch and take in your magnificent surroundings, then hike down into the canyon for a closer look at the fascinating hoodoos. Then, drive on to the town of Page, where you’ll spend the night.

  • Bryce Canyon - Leader-led Walk

Your total travel time today is approximately 5 hours.

Today's hiking distance is 3 miles (4.8 km) with 450 feet (137 m) of elevation gain.

Bryce Canyon is situated at 8000 ft (2440 m) above sea level. You can expect cooler temperatures, thinner and dryer air than elsewhere on this trip. Make sure you stay hydrated while hiking in the park.

Journey south this morning, driving through more spectacular scenery before arriving at Lake Powell. This gorgeous reservoir is certainly a sight to behold from the shore but to really appreciate it, you’ve got to get on the water. Jump in a kayak and paddle across the water’s surface, weaving your way through remarkable rock formations while your leader regales you with stories of the lake’s history. Back on dry land, set out for a gentle walk along Horseshoe Bend, taking in beautiful views with every step. This afternoon there is an option to visit Antelope Canyon before returning to Page for the evening.

  • Horseshoe Bend Visit
  • Lake Powell - Kayaking
  • Page - Antelope Canyon Tour - USD70

You will get wet during the kayaking excursion, therefore we recommend wearing a swimsuit and water shoes/sandals, or bring a change of clothes and shoes with you on this day.

During November and December, you may be unable to kayak on Lake Powell. There will be a local slot canyon walk included when kayaking is not possible. This hike does involve soft sand, stairs and ramps, so it’s best to wear closed-toe shoes.

ANTELOPE CANYON: Since this tour is very popular and tends to sell out, we recommend you pre-book your space. You can book any time slot 2pm or later. Please book the Lower Antelope Canyon Hiking Tour here:

Start the day with a drive to Monument Valley – one of the world’s most iconic sights. If this landscape dotted with towering sandstone buttes looks familiar to you, it’s no surprise – Monument Valley has been the filming location for many famous Western films. More importantly, this is the native land of the Navajo. When you arrive, you’ll transfer from your vehicle to a 4WD and enjoy a Navajo-guided tour of Monument Valley, where you’ll have the chance to learn more about their rich culture and history in the area before sitting down to a traditional homecooked, family-style Navajo lunch. Continue your journey onto the iconic Grand Canyon for some awe-inspiring walks along the rim.

  • Monument Valley - Navajo guided 4x4 Jeep tour including traditional lunch

We aim to experience either sunset or sunrise at the Grand Canyon rim, depending on season. During spring and fall when the sun sets earlier and rises later we typically visit for sunrise on Day 5. During the summer months we visit for sunset on Day 4.

This morning it's time to return to Las Vegas, but first we'll make a stop along Historic Route 66. You’ll arrive back in Las Vegas at approximately 4 pm where your adventure will come to an end.

  • Grand Canyon National Park - Entrance

Your total travel time today is approximately 4.5 hours.

There is no accommodation included in Las Vegas on the last day.  We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Speak to an Intrepid booking agent for more information.

4 breakfasts, 3 lunches

Private vehicle

Hotel (4 nights)

Dates and availability

Important notes.

1. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 8 am on Day 1 in Las Vegas. Please make your own way to the Joining Point listed in the Essential Trip Information for this itinerary. 2. On the final day, this trip finishes at approximately 4 pm on arrival in Las Vegas. You will be dropped at the same location as the joining point. If departing this day, please do not book any flights before 8 pm. 3. There is no accommodation included in Las Vegas on this trip. If you wish to spend more time in Las Vegas, we'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). Speak to an Intrepid booking agent for more information. 4. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement applies to all nights on your trip and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information. 5. Please ensure you have checked local state information regarding COVID-19 restrictions and regulations before you travel. 6. During the months of November and December we are often unable to kayak on Lake Powell. Instead we will explore Peekaboo Canyon or Antelope Canyon by foot instead.

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

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National Parks

America’s national parks are home to its grandest canyons, highest mountains, largest rivers, oldest forests and the historic and cultural treasures that tell the story of the USA. The United States has 58 protected areas known as national parks . The first national park, Yellowstone, was signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872, followed by Sequoia and Yosemite in 1890. U.S. National Parks are spectacular treasures that should be explored by everyone. Visitors every year end their adventures with their own respect and appreciation for the awesome beauty that each and every park has to offer. With hundreds of destinations across the country, you can find plenty of National Parks and Monuments, Seashores, Historic Parks and more. Everyone has an opportunity to travel to and explore one of these beautiful parks. From Acadia, Everglades, Grand Canyon , Yellowstone , Yosemite , Rocky Mountain and Zion National Parks to White Sands National Monument, its time to get out and enjoy the beautiful outdoors!

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Alaska National Parks

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14 Best National Park Experiences and Tours

V isiting the US national parks is a favorite pastime shared by many.  However, you may be wondering what are the best national park experiences? This post will cover the most popular tours and experiences for many of the most popular national parks.  

It will also include links to some of the best tours to help you easily check these fantastic items off your bucket list.  

Know someone else who would love to join you on your adventures?  Consider giving one of the experiences mentioned as a present.  They make fantastic gifts for national park lovers .

Best National Park Experiences and Tours

1. guided tour of acadia national park with cadillac mountain.

Acadia National Park is one of the most beautiful national parks with plenty of diverse scenery.  However, driving through the park can be a bit of a nightmare in peak season.  Traffic and parking can quickly ruin your day.

Instead of dealing with this hassle, take a guided tour!  This way everyone can focus on enjoying the sights around them while seeing the most popular spots within the park, including Cadillac Mountain (which requires a reservation to visit the summit if going on your own).

This tour will help you see the highlights of the park and is a good value if you’re short on time or just want to avoid driving.

2. Grand Teton and Native American Petroglyph Tour

Grand Teton National Park has numerous things to enjoy within the park including, Mormon Row, hiking, and Jenny Lake. But did you know that you can also see petroglyphs?  

This tour will help you discover this hidden gem while learning about its history and significance.  In addition, you’ll also make a stop at the National Big Horn Sheep Center where you can spot wildlife.

3. Yellowstone Snowshoe Safari from Bozeman

Avoid the summer crowds by experiencing Yellowstone National Park in the winter.  As you snowshoe through the park, guided by a naturalist, look for animal tracks, wildlife, and geothermal features.

During this tour, you will get a better understanding of the flora, fauna, and landscapes that make this park so special.

4. Morning Kayak on Yellowstone Lake with Lunch

While Yellowstone is often known for its famous geysers, the beautiful and grand Yellowstone Lake offers visitors a chance to relax along its shores.  See the park from a different angle when you get out on the lake with this kayaking tour.

As you paddle towards the West Thumb area (full of geothermal features) make sure to keep an eye out for wildlife such as bear and elk along the shores.  

Whether you are an experienced kayaker or just a beginner, you’re sure to have a blast on this scenic tour,

5. Jackson Hole Summer Aerial Tram Sightseeing

The Grand Tetons offer a plethora of hiking opportunities, but if you don’t have the strength or stamina to summit one of the mountains on your own, this tram ride is a fantastic alternative.  

Soar high above the valley as the tram escorts you up to the summit of a mountain. Once at the top, you can enjoy hiking opportunities or some delicious waffles as you enjoy the 360-degree views.   

6. Rocky Mountain National Park Sunset and Night Photography Tour

One of the amazing things to do in the national parks is to star gaze. Many of the parks are designated as dark sky areas, where there is little to no light pollution. This makes for incredible opportunities to see the wonders of the night sky.  

This tour will help you capture these wonderful views with your camera so you can remember the moment for years to come. It’s perfect for those new to night photography or photography in general as the tour guide will help you with your settings so you can get the best shots;

Travel Tip: Combine a stop at Rocky Mountain National Park as part of a Colorado National Parks road trip . It’s a fantastic way to experience Colorado’s four national parks in a week’s time.

7. Kenai Fjords National Park Glacier & Wildlife Cruise

Kenai Fjords is one of the best national parks for wildlife spotting. Board this cruise and sail by picturesque rock formations and incredible glaciers as you look for Stellar Sea Lions, Puffin, seals, Humpback, and Orca whales.

During this 6-hour tour, you’ll explore this national park by water and be delighted by the variety of wildlife and scenery that you see.  Lunch will be served onboard and drinks and other refreshments are also available.  

Best National Park Experiences and Tours for Adventure Lovers

8. smoky mountain valley adventure by helicopter.

Taking a helicopter tour in Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers a breathtaking and entirely unique perspective on one of America’s most cherished natural wonders.  This tour allows you to soar above the dense canopy and capture panoramic views that are simply unattainable from the ground. 

You’ll witness the grandeur of the Smokies’ rolling peaks and ancient forests in a way that evokes a profound sense of awe and appreciation.  Have your camera ready to capture this incredible scenery.

9. Half-Day Glacier National Park Whitewater Rafting Adventure

Take on class 2 and 3 rapids (including the famous “bone crusher” as you paddle the raft through one of the best and most popular national parks.  You’ll travel 8 miles along this 3.5 hour tour.  

This is a must-do activity for any adrenaline junky who wants to get the most out of their visit to Glacier National Park.  The best part is, no prior experience is required to participate in this thrilling tour.

10. Arizona Highlights – Antelope Canyon and Lake Powell Flight with River Rafting

Don’t have a lot of time but want to experience some of the best that Arizona has to offer?  Then this tour is perfect.  It includes a helicopter ride of the East Rim of the Grand Canyon, a guided tour of the famous Antelope Canyon, and a boat trip down the Colorado River.

Whether you just want an action packed day trip or only have one day and want to see as much as possible, this tour will fulfill the adventurous part of your soul.  So get up early and make sure to bring your camera for this incredible tour.

11. New River Gorge Side by Side Family Tour

Traveling with kids but still want a thrill?  Then this UTV tour is the perfect option.  Tackle almost any terrain as you explore New River Gorge National Park in places most regular vehicles just cannot go.

The tour is designed for people ages 12 and older and aims to provide a fun and thrilling experience so you can experience the park from a different perspective. Be prepared to get dirty on this tour.

12. Lower New River Gorge Full Day Climb and Rappel

Rappelling in New River Gorge National Park offers an exhilarating chance to descend sheer sandstone cliffs and navigate the breathtaking gorge. What sets this experience apart is the sheer diversity of routes available, catering to both beginners and seasoned climbers.

The stunning landscape, with its dramatic rock formations and lush forests, provides a spectacular backdrop for your adventure. As you descend the cliffs, you’ll not only get an adrenaline rush but also immerse yourself in the natural beauty and rich biodiversity of the region.

This tour is a great option no matter what your experience as there are several routes to choose from and vary in difficulty.

13. 8-Hour Denali Mountainous Hiking Activity

Escape the crowds as you challenge yourself to hike the wonderous mountains that surround Denali National Park.  During your trek, be on the lookout for dall sheep, eagles, and other wildlife.

Your guide will help you navigate the less defined trails so you can focus on the joys of hiking and the gorgeous scenery around you.  You will experience the park in a whole new way that few people ever experience.

14. Denali Peak Sightseeing by Plane

Taking a sightseeing plane tour to Mount Denali in Denali National Park and Preserve is undoubtedly one of the top national park experiences for those seeking awe-inspiring vistas and a deeper connection to the wilderness.

Denali, the highest peak in North America, is known for its imposing stature and stunning beauty, but it’s often shrouded in clouds and elusive to ground-based observers. A plane tour offers a privileged perspective, soaring above the park’s vast wilderness and glaciers to reveal the iconic mountain’s towering presence.

While the flight pattern is dependent on weather, you’re sure to have an incredible journey above the clouds.  You’ll also have onboard commentary to help you get the most out of your trip.

What Activities Can People Do When Visiting the National Parks?

One of the primary draws of national parks is the opportunity to immerse yourself in some of the most breathtaking and diverse landscapes on the planet. Activities within these parks can include hiking along scenic trails, from easy strolls to challenging backcountry treks, providing a chance to witness pristine wilderness, waterfalls, and wildlife up close.

For those interested in wildlife and nature photography, national parks are a paradise. You can capture stunning shots of wildlife like bison, elk, and bears, as well as dramatic landscapes and night skies filled with stars. Birdwatching enthusiasts can spot diverse avian species, making each park a unique birding destination.

If you’re into water activities, kayaking , canoeing, and rafting are often possible in parks with rivers and lakes. Some parks have superb opportunities for fishing, allowing you to try your hand at catching native fish species.

Additionally, for history buffs, national parks offer a wealth of cultural and historical sites, from ancient Native American dwellings to historic forts and battlefields. You can learn about the cultural heritage of these places and the people who shaped their history.

Finally, the parks provide a serene backdrop for relaxation and reflection. Whether you’re enjoying a picnic by a serene lake, taking in a ranger talk, or simply sitting in the midst of the wilderness, these parks offer a chance to connect with nature and find solace away from the hustle and bustle of daily life.

How Long Should You Spend at a National Park?

The ideal duration for a visit to the US national parks can vary widely depending on several factors, including your interests, the specific parks you plan to visit, and your travel goals. As a general guideline, it’s recommended to spend at least 2 to 3 days in each national park to fully immerse yourself in its unique beauty and activities. This allows time for exploring key landmarks, hiking some trails, and enjoying ranger-led programs.

When is the Best Time to Visit the National Parks?

As a general guideline, the ideal time to visit most national parks is during the shoulder seasons of spring (April to early June) and fall (September to early October). During these periods, you can typically enjoy pleasant weather, smaller crowds, and the opportunity to witness the beauty of changing seasons. Spring brings blooming wildflowers and rejuvenated landscapes, while fall dazzles with vibrant foliage and milder temperatures.

Ultimately, however, deciding when to visit the national parks will depend on the experience you want to have and what activities you would like to participate in.  Obviously, you can’t go snowshoeing in the summer.  

How Do You Avoid Crowds at National Parks?

First and foremost, consider visiting the parks during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall when the weather is still pleasant, but the visitor numbers have significantly diminished compared to the busy summer months. Weekdays also tend to be quieter than weekends, allowing for a more peaceful and less congested visit.

Furthermore, opt for lesser-known or less-visited national parks and off-the-beaten-path trails within popular parks. Research and choose parks that are not typically on the top of everyone’s list but still offer exceptional natural beauty and outdoor activities. 

Additionally, explore the park during non-peak hours, such as early morning or late afternoon, to experience the tranquil serenity and stunning views with fewer people around.

Lastly, be flexible with your itinerary and open to exploring less advertised trails and viewpoints. Sometimes the hidden gems and less-popular areas can offer equally, if not more, stunning scenery and a chance to appreciate the beauty of the natural world without the hustle and bustle of larger crowds.

Final Thoughts on the Best National Park Experiences and Tours

Hopefully, this post has given you an idea of some of the incredible national park experiences that you can have at various parks within the United States.  No matter which tour you choose, it is sure to help create memories to last a lifetime.  So go ahead and get planning your next trip!

A Guide to All 9 National Parks in California

One Week Itinerary for Utah National Parks

Visiting the US national parks is a favorite pastime shared by many.  However, you may be wondering what are the best national park experiences? This post will cover the most popular tours and experiences for many of the most popular national parks.   It will also include links to some of the best tours to help you easily check these fantastic items off your bucket list.   Know someone else who would love to join you on your adventures?  Consider giving one of the experiences mentioned as a present.  They make fantastic gifts for national park lovers. Best National Park Experiences and […]

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From the explosive geysers of Yellowstone National Park to the Navajo Nation’s majestic Monument Valley, America’s national parks tours include some of the most spellbinding scenery in the world. Travel with Globus and explore the canyons, peaks, arches, and waterfalls, carefully preserved for generations to enjoy, along with the opportunity to stay inside some of the most picturesque U.S. National Parks.

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How to plan an epic summer trip to a national park

We’ve got insider tips on the best times to visit the most popular parks, timed entry passes, and where to stay.

Yosemite Falls at Yosemite National Park, CA.

As summer approaches, the siren call of national park adventures grows stronger. However, these iconic sites are bringing in unprecedented crowds.

In 2023, the National Park Service (NPS) reported over 300 million visits , a four percent increase from the previous year. This surge isn’t limited to famous spots; lesser known parks such as Congaree and Dry Tortugas are also experiencing record-breaking numbers. To manage the influx, park authorities are implementing innovative strategies to improve the guest experience.  

( These are the 10 most popular national parks .)

From snagging the perfect stay to timing your bookings just right, we’ve got insider tips to ensure your national park vacation is nothing short of epic. Here’s what you need to know.

Best time to visit

Timing is crucial in planning your summer getaway, especially if you’re eyeing popular national parks. Finding affordable lodging and activities during the high season can be tricky.

During the shoulder seasons—early- to mid-spring and late fall—you can expect pleasant weather and a reprieve from the crowds, but there are a few trade-offs to consider. Some hotels and lodges might close during the off-season and reopen later in the year, potentially limiting your accommodation options. Additionally, parks at higher elevations, such as Glacier or Lassen Volcanic , may not have all their trails open and could require snowshoes or traction cleats to get around.

( Here’s why Yellowstone in the off-season is great for families .)  

Arriving before sunrise has its perks, too. Typically, most visitors don’t arrive until mid-to-late morning, allowing you to enjoy attractions like Arches ’ Windows or Delicate Arch with minimal crowds, provided you arrive early enough.

When permitted, exploring the parks in winter offers a unique perspective that few experience. Yosemite Valley, for instance, transforms into a winter wonderland —a sight cherished by photographers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Tony McDaniel, a Yosemite   Mariposa County spokesperson, says the best way to plan a visit is to avoid taking a “checklist approach” to your visit.

“Slow down and immerse yourself in the destination,” McDaniel says. “There’s no place on earth like Yosemite National Park , and it’s best seen slowly and outside of a vehicle where you can fully embrace the sights, sounds, and smells.”

What parks require timed entry passes?

Timed entry reservations typically provide access within a two-hour window. The price of the pass, however, does not include the standard park entry fee. But, a separate timed entry permit is unnecessary if you already have campground reservations, a wilderness permit, or bookings for a pre-arranged, park-sponsored activity. Additionally, if you plan to stay inside the park for multiple days, only one timed entry reservation is required—just make sure not to leave the park during your visit.

Although these passes can reduce a trip’s spontaneity, NPS spokeswoman Kathy Kupper says they also lead to better park experiences.

“Visitors love the timed entry system,” Kupper says, “because it gives them increased confidence that they’ll be able to get in and get where they want to go.”

If you miss out on a timed entry reservation, don’t fret. Ditch your car and opt to walk or bike into the park at any time of day. Glacier National Park adjusts its timed entry program annually, including relocating entry gates beyond the visitor center, where guests can hop on a shuttle bus to access the park.

( Ready to plan your fall hike? Read this safety advice first .)

Arches: Timed entry reservations will be required from April 1 to October 31. The reservation system operates on a rolling basis. For example, June 1–30 bookings opened March 1; July 1–31 reservations opened April 1. A limited number of reservations will also be released at 7 p.m. MST the day before, providing some flexibility for last-minute planners to Utah.

Sunrise shines on the Garden Wall, a spine of rock shaped by Ice Age glaciers.

Glacier: For travelers intending to drive along the iconic Going-to-the-Sun Road or head to North Fork, Montana, a vehicle reservation is mandatory between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. from May 24 to September 8. Similarly, from July 1 to September 8, a reservation is required to access Many Glacier between 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. These reservations can be secured up to 120 days or approximately four months in advance, starting at 8 a.m. MST. Additionally, a limited number of next-day vehicle reservations will be released at 7 p.m. MST for those seeking entry on the following day on a rolling basis.

Mount Rainier : Two areas of this Washington State park—Paradise Corridor from the south and Sunrise Corridor from the northeast—will require reservations from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., May 24-September 2, and July 4-September 2, respectively. Each corridor requires a separate vehicle reservation, valid for a single day per vehicle. Note that reservations are unnecessary when entering the park from a different entrance.

Rocky Mountain :   Between May 24 and October 20, reservations are required for entry into this Colorado park. Two types of reservations will be available: one granting access to the entire park, including the bustling Bear Lake Road Corridor from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m., and another from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. that excludes access to this corridor. Reservations for May 24 to June 30 can be secured starting at 8 a.m. on May 1. Subsequent reservation releases will follow, with reservations for July becoming available on June 1, and so forth.

Yosemite: Reservations are needed from April to October. On Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays (May 27, June 19, September 2, and October 14) from April 13 to June 30 and August 17 to October 27, reservations are required from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. From July 1 to August 16, reservations are needed daily during the same hours.

( Discover the best day hikes in Yosemite National Park .)

What parks require a specific area pass?

A hiker on a granite boulder Cadillac Mountain at sunrise.

Acadia : In Maine, Cadillac Mountain Summit Road vehicle reservations are required from May 22 to October 27. About one-third of them can be purchased 90 days in advance, while the rest become available two days before, starting at 10 a.m. Reservations cost $6 and are sold only at .

Great Smoky Mountains : While you don’t need a timed entry reservation to enter this Tennessee-North Carolina park, you will need a parking permit to stop for more than 15 minutes. Passes are $5 (daily),   $15 (weekly), and $40 (annually). Permits can be purchased in person or online . Passes are good for one vehicle only.

( See fireflies magically light up this national park .)

Haleakalā : To park at Hawaii’s Haleakalā summit for sunrise, you’ll need a parking pass from 3 to 7 a.m. throughout the year.

Shenandoah : Visitors hiking Virginia’s Old Rag Mountain must obtain a $2 day-use ticket in advance from March 1 to November 30. Of the 800 tickets issued daily, 400 will be released 30 days in advance, with the remaining 400 released five days beforehand on .

Zion: You’ll need a timed permit to hike Angel’s Landing in Utah. Lotteries open for June-August hikes on April 1, September-November on July 1, and December-February on October 1. A limited number of next-day licenses will be available at 12:01 a.m. the day before. Hiking groups of up to six people can apply for a permit. Winning groups will be charged an additional $3 per person.

( Not a hiker? That’s not a problem at these eight national parks .)

Best alternatives to national parks

If you’re visiting in the summer, don’t have a reservation, and couldn’t get into the park early enough, you still have options. State parks and national forests surrounding official national parks often offer similar views but with few visitors.  

( Go wild—and skip the crowds—at these 7 spectacular parks .)

For example, if you get shut out of Utah’s Bryce Canyon , you can always drive 15 minutes away to the picturesque Dixie National Forest . Instead of being shoulder-to-shoulder with thousands of other visitors on the trails, you’ll be almost entirely alone while overlooking nearly identical scenes.

Where to stay in or near a popular park

Most NPS campgrounds can be reserved six months in advance on a rolling basis through, but the most popular sites, including Yellowstone ’s Slough Creek or Watchman in Zion , can sell out within minutes. Even if you miss out, you still have plenty of options.  

“For something similar to camping in Yosemite Valley, Housekeeping Camp or Curry Village are as close as you’ll get to camping, plus you don’t need to bring a tent,” says McDaniel. “In areas like Wawona, Yosemite West, and Foresta, there are cabin rentals that will still get you into the park. Outside the park, there are hundreds of more options in great locations and historic towns that are generally more budget-friendly and put visitors close to more dining options.”

( These historic lodges are the perfect way to see North America’s wild parks .)

Nearby national forests and Bureau of Land Management areas typically offer established campgrounds or free dispersed camping (areas outside a designated campground). Sites are generally first-come, first-served. Arrive at an established campground between 10 a.m. and noon to score a recently vacated site.

Apps like AllStays and sites like and Campendium can help tremendously. Signal Mountain Campground in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park sells out almost immediately, but on a recent trip to the park, I found an incredible mountaintop dispersed campsite, in   Bridger-Teton National Forest . The view of the Tetons was spectacular, made even better because the campsite was free.

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What to Know Before Booking a National Park Trip This Summer

Additional routes in popular parks now require reservations, the annual pass gets a big change, Juneteenth is now a new free entrance day and more changes for 2024.

A deep-blue mountain creek with evergreen trees and brown grasses along its shores is in front of a towering gray mountain peak scattered with snow.

By Lauren Matison

In 2023, the seashores, lakeshores, battlefields, historic sites, monuments and more that make up the National Park Service had 325.5 million visits , an increase of 4 percent from the year before.

The National Park Service director, Charles F. Sams III, praised the surge of interest in “learning our shared American story throughout the hidden gems of the National Parks System.”

Expecting an even greater turnout in 2024, the Park Service and , the booking platform for federal land reservations, have implemented new measures to streamline the park experience, manage overcrowding and safeguard the environment.

More parks are requiring reservations

To better avoid congested trails, packed parking lots and overflowing trash cans, additional parks are joining Rocky Mountain , Arches and Glacier National Parks this year in requiring day-use permits, timed entries and other reservations for travelers who wish to visit, particularly during peak hours, holidays and the parks’ high seasons. Yosemite National Park is reinstating a timed-entry system it instituted in 2020, but paused in 2022.

Many park enthusiasts expressed mixed feelings about the reservation policies, with some lamenting a lack of first-come, first-served campsites while others find comfort in knowing they have a confirmed booking. As nearly 75 percent of visitors each year descend on national parks from May to October (and often on weekends), park officials stand by the system.

“In some parks, the level of demand is exceeding the capacity for which infrastructure was designed or is outpacing the National Park Service’s ability to sustainably support visitation,” said Kathy Kupper, a public affairs specialist for the service. “This trend is resulting in the need to explore new strategies to protect natural and cultural resources and provide opportunities for safe and meaningful visitor experiences.”

It can be confusing.

New to implementing timed-entry reservations for vehicles is Mount Rainier National Park , in Washington, for its popular Paradise and Sunrise Corridors during certain times in the summer season. Reservations cost $2, are valid for one day and must be purchased along with the park ticket, but do not apply for visitors with wilderness permits or camping or lodge reservations. Similar vehicle reservations are now required for certain periods for viewing the sunrise at Haleakalā National Park in Maui, Hawaii , and driving the Cadillac Summit Road in Maine’s Acadia National Park .

Visitors wishing to hike Old Rag Mountain in Virginia’s Shenandoah National Park must obtain a day-use ticket between March 1 and Nov. 30, and in Zion National Park, in Utah, hikers wishing to visit Angels Landing , the dramatic 1,488-foot-tall rock formation, also need to purchase a permit. Fees range from $1 to $6, in addition to the parks’ entrance fees.

As each destination is managed differently, check the park’s webpage for the type of reservation required. Although most bookings can be made through, some sites, such as Muir Woods National Monument, use a different system.

New features on

In 2023, reported that more than 4 million camping reservations and 2 million timed-entry reservations were booked online, and 1.5 million permits were issued. Some 2.9 million new users signed up for the site. With its expanding user base, the booking platform has added 58 reservable national park locations — including 17 campgrounds — such as Central Avenue Walk-in Sites at Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Bluff Hike In Camping in South Carolina’s Congaree National Park. has also improved an alerts feature, piloted in July 2023, that can notify users through email or mobile push notifications when a sold-out campsite becomes available. After notifies you of availability, you must book the campsite yourself online — and quickly, as you’ll be shown how many other people (possibly hundreds) have received the same alert.

While its customer support center and mobile app are still only available in English, recently introduced a Spanish language translation option. The Park Service partners with Latino Conservation Week , which hosts nationwide hikes and events on environmental education and in-park stewardship, and will celebrate its 10th year in September.

A limit to the annual America the Beautiful pass

The 2024 America the Beautiful pass no longer allows two owners. The annual interagency pass, which costs $80 and covers the entrance fees for more than 2,000 federal recreation sites (of which roughly 100 do not charge for admission year-round), is now marked by a single signature line on the back of the card. The pass owner must show I.D. and be present with any accompanying travelers wishing to access the park with the pass. (Annual passes issued in 2023 will still be valid until their expiration date.) The pass covers all passengers in a vehicle — up to four adults, and children under 16 are admitted free — or up to four cyclists riding together. Active military or veterans and people with permanent disabilities are eligible for a free lifetime pass; 4th grade students may receive a free annual pass; and senior citizens may purchase a $20 annual pass or pay $80 for a lifetime pass.

At the parks, more accessible features, E.V. chargers and new lodging

To better protect against global warming, the Park Service is putting more than $65 million from the Inflation Reduction Act and Great American Outdoors Act into climate mitigation and ecosystem restoration.

Using $15.9 million budgeted for zero-emission vehicle deployment, charging capacity and infrastructure, the Park Service is prioritizing a reduction in carbon emissions, said Mr. Sams, by installing new electric-vehicle charging stations and running electric buses.

An interactive online locator tool created in 2023 shows E.V. charging stations throughout 27 national parks and the type of chargers available. In addition to the tool, every national park page displays alerts on road closures, parking lot capacities, construction work and other incidents.

Mr. Sams also said the Park Service is investing $1.3 billion from the Great American Outdoors Act to improve accessibility features, ranging from a new A.D.A.-compliant visitor center at Morristown National Historic Park in New Jersey to new beach wheelchairs at Sleeping Bear Dunes , Channel Islands and Virgin Islands National Parks . Each destination’s website has an accessibility tab to help visitors plan their trip, and now has a search filter on its homepage to make it easier to locate accessible accommodations.

New lodging options now available across the country include the Flamingo Lodge , which opened inside Everglades National Park last fall with 24 guest rooms built from repurposed shipping containers. In March, along the southeastern border of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Cataloochee Ranch reopened with 11 renovated cabins and a new restaurant. This spring, the Clubhouse Hotel & Suites will welcome its first guests in Rapid City, S.D., the closest major town to Badlands National Park , and opening in May in Idaho is the Yellowstone Peaks Hotel , a 30-minute-drive from Yellowstone National Park. This fall, California-bound travelers planning a visit to General Sherman, the largest known tree on Earth, might book at AutoCamp Sequoia , just outside Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park .

Also in California: Those who don’t score a highly coveted (and contentious) spot at the newly reopened High Sierra Camps in Yosemite could book Wildhaven Yosemite in Mariposa, which offers more affordable rates, hiking trails and views of the Sierra Nevadas. Reservations for its first season are available beginning May 1.

Celebrating milestones and a new free entrance day

On the 60th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, visitors can pay tribute to African American heritage at over 100 parks , including the Frederick Douglass National Historic Site in Washington, D.C., Birmingham Civil Rights National Monument , and the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail . This year also marks 100 years since Indigenous people were recognized as United States citizens. Although many parks have Indigenous programming , Mr. Sams, who is the first Native American to serve as N.P.S. director , suggested visiting Hopewell Cultural Historical Park in Ohio and Whitman Mission Historic National Historic Site in Washington, where he recently brought his daughter.

“In order to celebrate the diversity that makes our country great, we must share the complete story of America, which includes both the successes and challenges encountered on the way to form a more perfect union,” Mr. Sams said.

Juneteenth National Independence Day is the National Park Service’s newest free entrance day . Visitors can also take advantage of free admission on April 20, the first day of National Park Week; Aug. 4, the four-year anniversary of the Great American Outdoors Act ; Sept. 28 on National Public Lands Day ; and Nov. 11 for Veterans Day .

Follow New York Times Travel on Instagram and sign up for our weekly Travel Dispatch newsletter to get expert tips on traveling smarter and inspiration for your next vacation. Dreaming up a future getaway or just armchair traveling? Check out our 52 Places to Go in 2024 .

An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the Flamingo Lodge. It is inside Everglades National Park, not outside the park.

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With a New Anthology and National Parks Tour, U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón Declares “Nature Is Who We Are”

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One morning this March, Ada Limón looked out the window of her home in Kentucky and saw a bird unlike any she’d ever seen. Limón, the 24th Poet Laureate of the United States, has loved birds since childhood and takes pleasure in learning their names . Yet the one clinging to her feeder was unfamiliar. “Of course, I didn’t have my glasses on,” she says. Suddenly she realized what she was seeing: an upside-down female cardinal, made strange by its inversion. “I just started laughing.” 

That Limón’s discovery yielded delight, not disappointment, might speak to her work as a poet, helping readers perceive anew what they could easily dismiss as commonplace. Likewise, when she chose the name for her signature project as Poet Laureate, she picked a phrase well-known to anyone who has ever perused a trail guide or museum map: YOU ARE HERE. The declaration serves as the title for a series of poetry installations in National Parks that Limón will preside over this year, as well as an anthology of new nature poetry she edited, published this month. 

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As Limón shares in the introduction to You Are Here , she encountered those three words on a sign while hiking, on a day when the world’s many crises weighed painfully on her. Beyond revealing her location, the pronouncement struck Limón as a reminder. “It’s a recognition of the present moment,” she says, “but also the incredible gift of being alive in a body on a spinning planet.”

Though it could have been a hefty tome—“I would have loved to have the book be 5,000 pages long,” Limón says— You Are Here is a slim volume of 50 poems, all the better to slip into a daypack. Limón reached out individually to poets she admires, including such luminaries as former Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, Camille T. Dungy, and Hanif Abdurraqib, inviting them to write poems for the collection. “When they came in, it felt like they were gifts,” she says. “Each one felt like such an offering, not to me, but to the natural world itself.”

A whale-watching tour off the coast of Washington state was the inspiration for Donika Kelly’s poem, which she was excited to contribute to the anthology. The group did see a humpback, but a highlight for Kelly was the Bald Eagles, flying and feeding on a remote island in the Salish Sea. Earlier in her life and career, Kelly says, she often looked to animals for clues about how to lead her own life (as a queer person baffled by dating, she was especially impressed by what seemed like the clarity of birds’ courtship rituals). But on the boat that day, Kelly wanted to appreciate the eagles for their own sakes. Like the speaker in her poem about the experience, Kelly now turns to animals “not to explain something about what humans do, but to understand that there are just other ways of being in the world.”

Limón herself has returned to birds again and again in her work, sometimes leaning into the impulse to interpret, at other times resisting. She doesn’t see the inconsistency as a problem. “I actually love the idea of the wondrous unknowing that animals provide us,” she says. “We name and identify, but we can never own and we can never completely know.” Tensions and contradictions are also present in You Are Here, which pleased Limón as she edited and arranged the collection. “The poems really started talking to each other,” she says. “There was a mix of hope and despair and complicated feelings when it comes to nature that to me felt like a very authentic response to where we are right now.”

Before Limón’s invitation to contribute to the book, Ashley M. Jones had never thought of herself as a nature poet. But the Alabama Poet Laureate had recently had an experience in the woods that many can relate to: finding solace for a heavy heart in the natural world. Two years after her beloved father’s death, Jones arrived at moment of respite beside the Sipsey River, in a wilderness area in northwest Alabama—after a rather treacherous hike that she realized had mirrored her passage through grief. “I didn’t really know if it was going to end well for me, if I would come back with scars,” she says. What she found, though, was a moment of peace, even as she mourned. Unseen birds called, and she heard reassurance in “their promise of song."

“As a Black poet, there’s two things you’re always fighting in your mind,” Jones says. “For one, people assume that you can only write about Black suffering. On the other hand, people are like, why can’t you just write about roses?” Jones’s poems often do both, chronicling beauty as well as speaking urgently to injustice. She sees You Are Here as part of an ongoing effort in the literary world to expand notions of who is expected and allowed to write what kind of poems: “No genre is off limits for any of us.” Jones might even write about roses. But if she does: “It definitely won’t be looking at a petal and only the petal,” she says, “I’m going to zoom out to who’s growing the flower.”

In You Are Here, the poems’ speakers walk city streets as well as quiet trails. They muse on moons and trees—but also pharmaceutical companies and Ellis Island. It’s all part of Limón’s mission to “reimagine what a nature poem is and what a nature poem can do.” At the heart of that pursuit is her conviction that humans aren’t separate from what we call the natural world. As she writes in the introduction to the anthology: “Nature is not a place to visit. Nature is who we are.”

Though National Parks are often a destination, the same idea animates the other You Are Here project Limón is spearheading as Poet Laureate. Throughout 2024, Limón will visit seven parks to celebrate   a new work of public art at each: inscriptions in picnic tables of poems she calls “iconic,” each linked to the surrounding landscape or ecosystem. Mary Oliver’s words will adorn Cape Cod National Seashore, for example, while visitors to Everglades National Park can take in June Jordan’s “ Ecology ,” about an encounter with a marsh hawk (now called Northern Harrier).  

The installations aren't just for viewing; they will serve double-duty as functioning tables, where they might take park-goers by surprise. Limón envisions the works as invitations—to slow down and tap into what she calls “a more alive alertness”—addressed to anyone who finds them. “I’m hoping that people will read the poem, and then start to think about a different way of looking at the world,” including their place it, she says. “Maybe it will make them want to write a poem, which would be wonderful.”

As she visits the parks, Limón will meet with local tribes, youth, and community groups, continuing her work of bringing poetry to the American public. She also plans to do a little birding: “I will be bringing my binoculars.”

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You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World , edited by Ada Limón, 176 pages, $25.00. Available here from Milkweed Editions.

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Our nature travel experiences take you from the greatest natural wonders to the hidden gems. Take to the skies for a scenic flight over the Grand Canyon or feel the spray of Victoria Falls. See the waters of Old Faithful in Yellowstone, or the dramatic towers of Torres del Paine. Walk through a real lava tube at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, marvel at the magical cascades of Plitvice, or watch for grizzly bears as you float through Grand Teton.

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Our nature tours blend discovery with comfort and reveal the stories behind the places you stay. Lodge at the El Rancho Hotel like Western movie stars in the American Southwest, or stay at a private safari lodge in the Kruger bush in South Africa. From a hotel in the Rocky Mountains to a forest lodge in Sequoia National Park or the rugged Patagonia landscape, we’ll take you to the heart of the national parks.

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How many national parks are in the usa.

There are currently 62 national parks in the USA. Of these parks, 14 are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and 21 are UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The US National Park Service’s records have registered over 14 billion visits across the parks since 1904, with 318 million visits in 2018 alone. The most popular park is the Great Smoky Mountains with 11,421,200 visits.

What are the most beautiful national parks?

There are dozens of breathtaking national parks around the world. Some of our favorite national parks vacations include exploring amongst the giant sequoia trees of Yosemite, the hot springs and alpine forests of Yellowstone and the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon. We also love the ancient landscapes of the Serengeti, the burning sunsets of the Maasai Mara and the wild bushland of Kruger National Park.

Where can you see wildlife in Africa?

Africa’s national parks are the top places to see wildlife, from the iconic Big Five to the rarer species. Some of the best national parks for wildlife spotting are the Serengeti in Tanzania, Kruger in South Africa, Etosha in Namibia, the Maasai Mara in Kenya and Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe. You can visit all of these destinations with Trafalgar’s national park tours.

Which national parks are free?

There are several entrance fee-free days to the US national parks, but you can also find some national parks that are free to enter all year round. These include the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina, Cumberland Gap in Virginia, Channel Islands National Park in California, North Cascades National Park in Washington, and Biscayne National Park in Florida.

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Reservations for Jewel Cave tours, including the Scenic Tour (pictured), can be made via Repanshek file

Jewel Cave National Monument in South Dakota is changing its operations to prepare for visitors this summer season. Beginning Wednesday, May 8, the visitor center will be open every day from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Extended hours of 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. will begin on Sunday, May 19. These hours will then continue until Labor Day.

Jewel Cave’s Wild Caving Tours will begin for the season on Saturday, May 25, and the Historic Lantern Tours on Saturday, June 1. The park plans to offer the Historic Lantern Tours daily until Labor Day, and the Wild Caving Tour on weekends and select weekdays through mid-August. The monument will continue to offer the popular Scenic and Discovery  tours. Advance reservations for the Scenic , Discovery and Historic Lantern  tours are strongly recommended and will be available to book on , with limited walk-up tours available daily.

Advance reservations are required for the Wild Caving Tour and will be by phone. Information on booking this tour is on the park's website and .

The monument also partners with the Black Hills Parks and Forests Association, which operates a Park Store inside the visitor center.  The store will be open on the same schedule as the visitor center and provides visitors with multiple products and services to complement their visit.

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The Essential RVing Guide

The Essential RVing Guide to the National Parks

The National Parks RVing Guide , aka the Essential RVing Guide To The National Parks , is the definitive guide for RVers seeking information on campgrounds in the National Park System where they can park their rigs. It's available for free for both iPhones and Android models.

This app is packed with RVing specific details on more than 250 campgrounds in more than 70 parks. You'll also find stories about RVing in the parks, some tips if you've just recently turned into an RVer, and some planning suggestions. A bonus that wasn't in the previous eBook or PDF versions of this guide are feeds of Traveler content: you'll find our latest stories as well as our most recent podcasts just a click away. So whether you have an iPhone or an Android , download this app and start exploring the campgrounds in the National Park System where you can park your rig.


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