Time for a 30-second daydream: It's a warm summer day, you're outdoors, maybe at a national park, seashore, historic site, or refuge. In this daydream, what are you doing? Hiking? Biking? Bird watching? Enjoying a view?
For me, it's walking the steep but beautiful McClures Beach trail at Point Reyes National Seashore and then picnicking in view of the crashing waves.
When I asked SmarterTravel editors to describe a favorite national park activity, here's what they said:
- Kate Hamman, Associate Editor: "One of my favorite things to do in Yellowstone National Park, and it has happened to me more than once, is trying to catch a glimpse of the elusive moose, wolves, or bears from a car while patiently waiting for a buffalo traffic jam to dissipate."
- Sarah Pascarella, Senior Editor: "Hiking the Loch Vale Trail in Rocky Mountain National Park, resting for a snack and breaths of fresh mountain air alongside a picturesque mountaintop lake."
- Josh Roberts, Managing Editor: "Hiking to Phantom Ranch from the South Rim of the Grand Canyon—amazing views through a variety of geographical strata all the way down to the Colorado River. Another favorite: A mule ride into the canyon from the North Rim: Similarly breathtaking views, but far fewer people with whom you have to share it."
- Kate Sitarz, Editorial Assistant: "Hiking (or climbing on all fours) the steep, slightly terrifying, Angel’s Landing trail in Zion National Park; if the height doesn’t take your breath away, the view certainly will."
- Ed Passarella, Editor-in-Chief: "Climbing the southernmost observation tower at the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island in Massachusetts, from which you have views of freshwater ponds, marsh, woods, and the ocean. Everything from mallards to buffleheads, warblers to raptors, and plovers to great blue herons will fly by."
What are your favorite things to do in national parks, those things you think back on fondly or can't wait to do again? Share your ideas below!