6 Overlooked, Budget-Friendly National Park Destinations

The national parks and recreation areas of the United States have been iconic destinations for generations. In recent years, they’ve only grown in popularity, as the jaw-dropping COVID-19 and jaw-dropping #nofilter Instagram feeds have driven more people to seek entertainment and solace outdoors.

The growing popularity drew larger crowds. Meanwhile, rising costs, especially for gas and food, can make removing these destinations from your destination list a little more daunting than before.

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Beyond iconic parks like Yosemite, Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, however, there are hundreds (423, to be exact) of fascinating and beautiful sights within the national park system to inspire awe. There’s at least one in every state, offering plenty of affordable opportunities to hit the roads less travelled.

“There are so many sites that most people aren’t aware of that are great for a few hours or a few days,” said Kathy Kupper, public affairs specialist for the National Park Service. Plus, she says, “They’re often a lot closer than people think.”

The biggest expense of visiting a park is usually getting there, if you have to drive or fly a long distance, paying for accommodation and food along the way. Once you arrive at the park, only 108 of them charge entrance fees, and the maximum price is $35.

Kupper says if you’re planning overnight stays, whether you want to save money or want to splurge, “there’s something for every level,” from rustic camping and glamping yurts to world-class lodges.

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The free National Park Service app (download it at nps.gov) shows you parks by location, including details about fees, activities, and conditions or alerts you need to know.

Read on for six destinations within the national park system that are worthwhile, plus tips on how to save money while you’re there, courtesy of Adventure Mom’s Nedra McDaniel blog.

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