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Experts’ Guide to 5 National Parks

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Have you experienced the magic of National Parks — stood mesmerized by the Redwood Trees, watched in awe as Old Faithful spews or wandered through the fall colors of Acadia? Whether you’ve visited all 63 national parks or you’re ready to start crossing them off your list, there’s no doubt — ExpertVoice members cherish National Parks. 

In celebration of National Parks Week, we asked our members to share their advice on what trails to hike, what gear to pack and stories from their most memorable trips. 

We took their tips to create this helpful guide to visiting 5 of the top recommended National Parks. 

1. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite was a clear favorite among experts. Its massive granite walls, awe-inspiring waterfalls and vibrant valley floors make it easy to love. Whether you prefer a gentle trail or an exhilarating climb, Yosemite has something for every expert. 

Expert tips for your visit: 

  • Soak in the views from the valley floor. 
  • Get up close to some waterfalls, especially Yosemite Falls. 
  • Watch the sunset from Taft Point.
  • Break out the climbing shoes for some of the best — and longest — climbing routes in the world.

Gear for Yosemite: 

One of the top-recommended items for Yosemite was a daypack. No matter where you explore through the park, it’s helpful to keep layers, snacks and water easily available.

Expert pick: Gregory Men’s Citro 24 H2O 

Expert story from the park: 

Jamie Goldie said one of her favorite Yosemite memories is a personal trip that didn’t go according to plan. Her group spent 24 hours climbing Royal Arches after taking a wrong path and getting a rope stuck.

 “We ended up just sleeping in the devil’s bathtub area and getting our rope back in the morning. It was a beautiful night. The stars were amazing, and we had a ringtail cat perusing the area — and it made for quite the adventure and story. Safely got the rope down in the morning once we could see.”  – Jamie Goldie 

2. Arches National Park 

Arches is home to more than 2,000 natural stone arches. Stepping into its rocky red landscape filled with bizarre rock formations feels like walking on another planet. This park is known for its mix of challenging hikes and easily accessible views.  

 Expert tips for your visit: 

  • Head to Delicate Arch for first light. 
  • Find filming locations for “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” 
  • Get a permit and explore through the Fiery Furnace. 
  • Hike Dark Angels trail to discover wild rock formations and arches. 

Gear for Arches: 

As you meander through Arches’ rocky trails, experts recommend bringing hiking poles with you for extra stability.

 Expert pick: Liberty Mountain Brands Uinta Folding Carbon Trekking Poles 

Expert story from the park:

Robert had never been further west than Philadelphia until he ventured out to Utah and never left. He shared his favorite memories of Arches: his first visit and returning years later with his mom.

“I moved to Utah from Connecticut a little over 17 years ago to chase powder … We went to Arches, which was the first national park I had visited at that point, and my brain just kept melting. It was, and still is, such a magical place. However, what cements it as my favorite is, after all this time, I was able to bring my mom there. As she was looking out, she said to me, ‘Oh, I finally understand why you never came home.’” – Robert Violano 

3. Canyonlands National Park 

The entrance of Canyonlands is only 26 miles from the entrance of Arches, making it easy to explore both parks in one trip. Canyonlands is well-loved for its rock formations, 4WD roads and starry nights.

Expert tips for your visit:

  • Step back in time as you see pictographs and petroglyphs in Horseshoe Canyon.
  • Gaze up at the Milky Way under the night sky.
  • Make the short hike to the Mesa Arch.
  • Cruise down White Rim Road for an exciting and scenic ride.

Gear for Canyonlands: 

As the desert sun sets for a cool evening, a sun hoodie is essential. Grab this expert-recommended sun hoodie for protection in daylight hours and a warm layer when stargazing.

 Expert pick: Himali Women’s Eclipse Sun Hoodie 

Expert story from the park:

In October 2023, Michael and his girlfriend went on a 10-day backpacking trip in Canyonlands. He shared one of his favorite memories from the hike to the legendary Druid Arch.

“Before I knew it, she was down on one knee, returning the gesture I’d made a few months ago, asking me to marry her. I was surprised and elated. We sat under the arch, me mostly in a daze, as the sun danced between the rock formations. It was unforgettable. One of the many memories making up my eternal love for our National Parks.” – Michael Phillips

4. Mount Rainier National Park 

Mount Rainier is one of the grandest peaks you’ll find in the lower 48 states. This glaciated volcano requires 9,000 feet of elevation gain to reach its summit, making it an impressive feat for any mountaineer and a spectacular view for anyone within a hundred miles.

Expert tips for your visit:

  • Take a hike on the Skyline trail for epic views.
  • Set out for a backcountry ski.
  • Circumnavigate Mt. Rainier on the Wonderland trail.
  • Go for summit, and if you’re new to glaciated peaks, grow your expert network by hiring a guide.

Gear for Mount Rainier:

Like most parks, exploring Mount Rainier allows you to disconnect from distractions. To stay safe outside of cell phone service, experts recommend a satellite communicator.

Expert pick: Garmin InReach Mini 

Expert story from the park: 

Mid-pregnancy, Eleni took on Mount Rainier National Park, sharing a love for the outdoors with her daughter before she was even born.

“One of my favorite memories from many years spent visiting our National Parks — sharing the splendor of Mount Rainier with my first daughter Norah, four months before her birth. Now my daughter is almost 7, and she has grown into a force of nature, just like the mountain.” – Eleni Giorgos

5. Glacier National Park 

Glacier’s rugged peaks, icy blue lakes and moss-filled forests will leave you breathless as you take in this park from the road, trail or water.

Expert tips for your visit:

  • Kayak in the crystal-clear water of Lake McDonald.
  • Spot grizzlies and other wildlife as you explore.
  • See the park from one side to the other by driving Logan Pass.
  • Hike through a lush green forest to the bright blue water of Avalanche Lake.

Gear for Glacier:

Whether you explore Glacier in the sunshine of summer or cold days of winter, a merino wool layer can wick away moisture and help regulate body temperature.

Expert pick: icebreaker Women Merino 150 Tech Lite Tee 

Expert story from the park: 

Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier offers some of the most epic views in the country. Peter managed to find those views without the crowds as he ventured up the road with just his bike, a friend and some wildlife.

“After a high five, we layered up and retraced our route, enjoying the descent with a perfect sunset to the west. Around a corner, we encountered a wolverine at a safe distance and stopped to enjoy the rare sight. We continued passed the misty Weeping Wall and followed the exposed, winding road down back through the aspen groves to McDonald Creek. It cooled, darkness was near, and we again ran into more wildlife. My friend somehow noticed a black bear across the creek. We stopped and watched it swim back to our side, then play in the road for about ten minutes. Wow!” – Peter Thomas

Set out and explore the parks

Wherever you choose to visit, we hope that you make treasured memories with your loved ones in these beautiful places. And shop the gear you’ll need to explore on ExpertVoice — not yet a member? Find out if you qualify to join. 

Get more stories, tips and gear discounts on ExpertVoice

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