If you’re going to take the time to explore and enjoy our National Parks, then you want to make sure that you see what absolutely must be seen, right? Of course. For example, you wouldn’t go to Yellowstone National Park and not make time for Old Faithful. Certain not on your very first visit. With this in mind, we’ve compiled ten must-see and must-do experiences in our National Parks. Take a look.
1. Watch Old Faithful Erupt at Yellowstone. Old Faithful erupts every 35 to 120 minutes, so if you miss it the first time, it won’t be long before it erupts again. However, don’t just sit there and wait. Instead, walk along the one-mile boardwalk through Upper Geyser Basin to check out a variety of hot springs and geysers, including Morning Glory Pool. For RV trips, consider Yellowstone & Grand Teton (10 nights).
2. Walk the Rim Trail at the Grand Canyon. The Rim Trail is incredible. It’s an easy, paved walk that’s ideal for children and is very much wheelchair and stroller accessible. Instead of taking the free park shuttle, walk the .7 mile section between Mather Point (adjacent to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center) and Yavapai Point for amazing views. For RV trips, consider Mighty 5: Utah and the Grand Canyon (13 nights).
3. Take the Tram Tour at Yosemite. Yosemite is a very big park and the two-hour open-air tram tour is a great way to get your bearings as park rangers introduce the must-sees, like Half Dome, Tunnel View and El Capitan. Trams depart every hour from Yosemite Valley. After the tour, hike to nearby Yosemite Falls or have a picnic at Swinging Bridge. For RV trips, consider Big Sur, Sequoia & Yosemite (12 nights).
4. Hike to Inspiration Point at Grand Teton. Take the shuttle across Jenny Lake with Jenny Lake Boating. Once you cross the lake, head off on a short hike to Inspiration Point for scenic views of Jenny Lake and Jackson Hole. From Inspiration Point, you can either walk back to your car or take the shuttle. For RV trips, consider Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Teton (13 nights).
5. Enjoy a Sunrise Tour at Mesa Verde. Offered only a handful of times between May and October, sign up for the 90-minute Balcony House Sunrise Tour. Plan to climb, crawl and climb again as you make your way up the cliff dwelling to get situated in just the right spot to take in the sunrise. Dress in layers and bring along a flashlight. For RV trips, consider Canyonlands, Arches and Central Colorado (9 nights).
6. Visit General Sherman at Sequoia. Sequoia National Park, home to giant sequoia trees, is also home to the world’s largest tree, General Sherman, which stands at 275 feet tall. Hike along the two-mile Congress Trail to reach the Giant Forest Sequoia Grove to pose with General Sherman. At nearby Kings Canyon, go to meet General Grant. For RV trips, consider Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon (9 nights).
7. Take the Red Bus Tour at Glacier. Glacier National Park is busy and taking a Red Bus Tour is a must. Try the four-hour Western Alpine Tour that departs from the Apgar Transit Center. The park roads are windy and it’s tough to enjoy the scenery when you’re gripping the steering wheel. It’s also nice not to have to deal with parking. For RV trips, consider Glacier, Yellowstone & Grand Teton (13 nights).
8. Go for a Full Moon Hike at Bryce Canyon. Everyone goes to Bryce Canyon in Utah for the sandstone cliffs and hoodoos, but you really don’t want to miss out on a ranger-led full moon hike. This popular nocturnal adventure is a fantastic way to explore the park and wildlife as you seek out the best views of the full moon. For RV trips, consider Zion, Bryce & Grand Canyon (9 nights).
9. Catch Sunset from Glacier Point at Yosemite. One of the most popular lookout points at Yosemite is Glacier Point, which offers incredible views of Yosemite Valley, Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. You can either drive out to Glacier Point or take one of several hiking trails, like Four Mile Trail, which ends at Glacier Point. For RV trips, consider Lake Tahoe & Yosemite (9 nights).
10. Hike to Fiery Furnace at Arches. While many flock to hike the three-mile trail to Delicate Arch, avoid the crowds and join a ranger-led hike to Fiery Furnace, which enjoys a reddish glow at sunset. Other must-do hikes to see arches all across the park include the Double O Arch Trail and Tower Arch Trail, which takes you out to more remote arches. For RV trips, consider Mighty 5: Utah and the Grand Canyon (13 nights).