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Some National Park Tips I Wanted to Share

Growing up, I did not go to National Parks. In fact, we just weren't a hiking family. We didn't have very much money, but usually once a year, my mom drove us to Panama City Beach Florida. We found cheap places to stay and had a BLAST! I love a beach vacation, but a couple of years ago I had the idea to get Jake's family together for a hiking/family vacation. His family is typically down for anything, and they were! It was so great. We went to Galcier National Park, and I can't recommend it enough. Click here to see what we did. Sadly, the blog has since removed my pictures: ( Major bummer, but I have pictures on my Instagram still! And here are a few! (feel free to keep sending me emails! falen@kdwb.com)

A few years ago, my friends and I took a trip to Maine, so we went to Acadia National Park. We saw a lot of it, but we didn't do any hiking. It was also VERY beautiful!

This summer we're going to Yosemite! I'm looking forward to it! I always start any trip by going to Pinterest and looking up blogs about the location I'm going to. I also type in the hashtag on Instagram with the location I'm going to. I make a list of places to stay, eat, shop, do, hike etc. I book anything in advance that I need to and leave the rest to be decided on the trip depending on how we feel.
I asked for some tips for various National Parks you've visited and got a few emails I wanted to share. SO here are some bits of info below:)

Email 1:

We drove to Michigan last year and stopped at both Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshores (we got the stamps so they count as National Parks!). Both places have amazing short hiking options, but Sleeping Bear was soooo awesome.

We had a 3 and 7 yo with us, so hikes needed to be short. We did the Empire Bluff Trail at Sleeping Dunes, and it was easily doable—I think 3/4 mile. Amazing views! We opted to not do the sand dunes because I didn’t feel like carrying kids through that if they tanked early.

After that hike we drove just south of there to check out Otter Creek/Esch Road Beach. It sounds cool because the creek flows into Lake Michigan so the kids could play in the more calm creek or the lake! I’ll post pictures below.

So excited to see what you put together. We stopped after two kids so we could go explore National Parks sooner with them (sans naps and diapers).


Email 2:
My sisters & I (all from IN by the way :-)) went to Acadia National Park last fall. 2 pieces of advice from that trip:

Rent an e-bike & do so a month or more in advance. They sell out fast. We biked most of the park & passed by many people on regular bikes who offered us $$ to trade bikes w them. It’s so hilly & even though we’re all in great shape- we got at least 15 more miles in by doing it this way. 

Watch the sunrise from Boulder Beach. Many say to watch it via Cadillac mountain but tickets run out fast. We got up early & headed to Boulder Beach instead where there were less people & plenty of places to sit (on smooth boulders). If I were to go again I’d choose this spot over Cadillac Mountain for the sunrise. 

Pic from Boulder Beach:


Email 3:
Hi Falen!

I saw your Instagram stories and thought I would give you some of my tips for the National Parks! I’ve been wanting to email into the show and never have- but this is in my wheelhouse :) So excited to see you all are going to Yosemite! It is beautiful!

1. PLAN your trip! And know when or if you need to get permits - timed entry for some parks or some hikes need permits (Half Dome in Yosemite)

2. Get going early! Especially in parks like Yosemite - trailheads fill up fast. Plus there is nothing better than seeing the soft morning sunlight hitting the mountains and being awake before the rest of the world.

3. Have a good idea of the trails you want to go before you get to the parks. You will get little reception in most parks outside of the main visitor center. There is good service in the Valley in Yosemite :)

4. BE PREPARED! Research your hikes and do adequate preparation for them. I cannot tell you how many people I’ve seen (and helped!) in flip flops and half empty water bottles that didn’t bring food on a hike they were wholly unprepared for. I’m not saying everybody needs to look like they just popped out of an REI ad, but it can be dangerous to underestimate the terrain you are in. This isn’t Disneyland!

5. Leave no trace and Leave it better than you found it

6. Remember that the Parks are for everyone! That guy who looks like he hasn’t hiked a day in his life, that girl who looks like she’s there just for an Instagram picture, the young family with their screeching kids, people in the flip flops, the couple with their matching backpacks and trekking poles- we all belong here and deserve to see these beautiful places!

Hope some of these will help somebody!

Thank you!


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