National Park Week is coming up quickly and it’s the perfect excuse to plan a trip. April 18 and 19 national park fees will be waived, allowing guests to experience America’s best idea free of charge. Now all you have to do is pick a park.
With 59 National Parks in the U.S. choosing can be tough. Emily Moench of the Utah Office of Tourism suggests heading to one of Utah’s Mighty 5 in April. Temperate spring weather and fewer crowds make April the ideal time to explore these natural wonders. Moench suggests a few tips for getting the most out of National Park Week.
Drive. With gas prices at an all-time low, it’s the perfect time to take a road trip. Be sure to map the trip by taking National Scenic Byway 12, which passes through some of the most spectacular scenery and natural wonders seen along any rural route in the nation, or Scenic Byway 24, which travels along rolling sagebrush desert and drops into high valley farmland.
Don’t forget the national monuments. In addition to the national parks, national monuments are also free of charge during kick-off weekend and equally as stunning. For example, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument along Scenic Byway 12 is a 1.7 million acre park full of bold plateaus and multi-hued cliffs. Another must-see is Natural Bridges National Monument, which features three natural river-carved bridges connected by a nine-mile round-trip drive.
Take advantage of free programs. Each of the national parks offer free ranger-led programs to enhance the experience. A special force of park rangers and volunteer astronomers known as “The Dark Rangers” at Bryce Canyon conduct a night sky program, which integrates a one-hour multimedia show followed by 90 minutes of stargazing with telescopes. Visitors can also take a guided hike and view the art in Horseshoe Canyon at Canyonlands.
Camp. There are plenty of options for enjoying the great outdoors and a camping-style experience without sacrificing all the comforts of home. Visitors can book a galmping-style “tipi" at Moab Under Canvas, just outside of Arches and Canyonlands national parks, for as little as $79 per night. Shooting Star RV Resort is another unique lodging option where guests can choose from a number of airstream campers designed to resemble the dressing trailer of famous movies.