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Travel Forum for U.S. National Parks?

Does anyone here know of a similar type forum to this one that would have a focus on travel within the United States, specifically the National Parks?

I love traveling to Europe, but after canceling a month-long trip that was supposed to begin on June 4th, I’m thinking our next big trip (when things are safe to travel) will be a road trip to national parks out west. I’d love to find a group as helpful as this one for planning a trip like that!

Posted by
11503 posts

Go on forums - specific to which ever state park is in

Posted by
15298 posts

bugsycar, you can ask questions right here in the "Beyond Europe" forum: some of us have answered parks questions on this one in the past. If Lonely Plant's Thorn Tree forum becomes live again (it's currently read only), that's not a bad one but otherwise, yes, use Tripadvisor. There are umpty active threads running there for, say, Utah's "Mighty 5" (Zion, Bryce, etc.), the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc. as well as some state and tribal parks (e.g. Monument Valley.)

Along with the individual NPS websites, this website is a good resource right now for some things going on (or not) in the parks:

I think park trips could be tricky this year, depending on re-opening/availability of lodge/hotel accommodations, campgrounds and facilities. If traveling in 2021, book as early as possible: they are very popular destinations and rooms fill quickly in advance!!!

Posted by
884 posts

Having visited most of our national parks out west - usually in our RV - I can highly recommend them for your future travels. However, and it's a big however, most are located miles from big cities. In a normal year the availability of lodging, restaurants, shopping and medical care are sufficient. This year it could be a problem.

Lodging is probably doable as long as they have the workforce for cleaning.
Local grocery stores are small and don't have the ability for resupply that major retailers in big cities do. Same for the restaurants.

Medical care? Is there a hospital or urgent care? How far to the nearest?

Things to consider.

Posted by
97 posts

Thank you so much for the helpful information given so far! I actually had no idea that Trip Advisor had forums for each state. That is excellent! I took a quick peak and it looks like the info will be helpful to sift through. I'll also take a look at the other suggestions given.

I should have clarified in my original post - I'm not planning this trip for this summer... it would be for summer 2021. I'm a teacher and have 3 children, so it will have to be a summer trip. :) I just don't think I'll be comfortable yet getting on a flight to Europe next year, so I'm currently thinking 4-5 week road trip from Chicago, seeing some sights through New Mexico, Arizona, California, and a few parks we haven't hit in Utah yet....

Any advice is welcome! Parks we have already seen out west include: Yellowstone, Grand Teton Nat'l Park, Badlands, Black Hills area, Rocky Mountain Nat'l Park, Black Canyon of Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes Nat'l Park, Arches, Canyonlands, Saguaro, and Muir Woods.

Some sites to hopefully see on this trip would include: Grand Canyon and a few of the smaller parks/monuments in AZ, Sedona (one of my favorite places!), Joshua Tree, San Diego, big national parks in CA :), drive up Route 1/Carmel/Monteray, Bryce Canyon, Zion, and Capitol Reef. I'm sure all of these sites could take a lifetime, but it will be fun to take the year to plan. :)

Posted by
3104 posts

I have gotten excellent responses to my questions on this forum in "Beyond Europe" about various National Parks, including Zion and Bryce.

Posted by
15298 posts

I actually had no idea that Trip Advisor had forums for each state.

You may have already figured this out but they have forums not just for the states but for the bigger parks within them as well. Those are useful if you don't want to sift through a lot of posts for unrelated locations in a state. For instance, here are the Zion, Bryce and Capitol Reef forums. I don't belong to TA but I scan the offerings now and again.

When you ask questions, be sure and include background info such as when you'll be traveling, ages of your children, what sort of sightseeing you intend to do (e.g hiking versus or just driving to scenic overlooks/pullouts) and whatnot. Also if you'll be camping versus staying in hotels.

Being you've been to Yellowstone and Arches - probably in summer - you have an idea how busy the parks can be during high and shoulder season! If this trip will be during the summer too, you might want to re-think Joshua Tree if you're wanting a lot of activity out of the car? It'll be uncomfortably hot in June/JulylAugust. From the NPS website:

Summers are hot, over 100°F (38°C) during the day and not cooling much
below 75°F (24°C) at night.

The drive between Bryce and Capitol Reef on Hwy 12 is a stunner. :O)

Posted by
13226 posts

I’d love to help you with Yellowstone if you decide to return. Come to the TA Wyoming forum. I’m D0bby on the Yellowstone forum there.

Yellowstone lodging reservations usually open on May 1 of the prior year but this year Xanterra, the lodging concessionaire, has deferred it until June 1. They will open online reservations at 2AM MDT. Phone lines open June 8. This has changed a couple of times while they deal with the current situation so check on the TA forum in the week before and we’re planning to update with whatever information we have.

Be exceedingly careful to book only thru the official concessioner for each National Park. If you google something like national park lodging the first hits are usually the rip off 3rd party bookers who charge a 10% non-refundable booking fee and have horrible cancellation policies. The official lodging suppliers are easily found on each park’s NPS page or on the TA page.

This is the start for each national park’s official website. There is a 4-letter suffix after a slash. It’s usually the first 4 letters of the park name or the first 2 letters of the park’s first and second names. So for Yellowstone or for Grand Tetons. The outlier is Carlsbad Caverns which is cave instead of ... you know...caca, lolol!!!