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Best Things To Do at Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim)

Grand Canyon - Hermit Road

There’s nothing like your first visit to Grand Canyon National Park — and the first time you look over the rim — it’s simply awe-inspiring! The extraordinary combinations of geologic color and erosional forms decorate this canyon, which is 277 river miles long, up to 18 miles wide, and a mile deep. Without question, the Grand Canyon overwhelms our senses through its immense size.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s national parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 national parks — and Grand Canyon National Park is one place you have to see! Whether you’re more comfortable exploring the canyon from the rim, or want to take a more adventurous route on foot, by bike, or on the back of a mule, I’ve been to Grand Canyon National Park many times — so I’m ready to help! If this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Grand Canyon National Park!

Grand Canyon - Bright Angel Trail

Walking or Hiking

The Rim Trail

Going on a hike is a wonderful way to experience the Grand Canyon National Park’s rich natural beauty and immense size. The Rim Trail is perfect for quiet views of the inner canyon and for visitors who desire an easy hike. The Rim Trail stretches from the South Kaibab Trailhead west to Hermits Rest, a distance of about thirteen miles — and most of the trail is paved. Between Pipe Creek Vista and Bright Angel Lodge only a few short sections of the trail have grades that exceed accessibility standards. West of Bright Angel Lodge, the Rim Trail narrows and climbs the Bright Angel Fault to viewpoints along Hermit Road. Between Powell Point and Monument Creek Vista the trail is a three foot wide dirt trail. The section of the Rim Trail between Monument Creek Vista and Hermits Rest is also known as the Hermit Road Greenway Trail and provides three miles of paved greenway trail provide additional views for cyclists and hikers.

Walk the Trail of Time

Grand Canyon - Yavapai Geology Museum

Start at the Yavapai Museum of Geology and finish up at the Verkamps Visitor Center — a 1.2 mile stroll along the canyon rim. The path contains information about the canyon’s geologic history, and samples from each layer of the canyon.

Day Hikes: Exploring the Canyon on Foot

Day hikes are by far the most popular type of trip into the Grand Canyon. A down-and-back excursion lets you commit to traveling only as far as you think you can handle, and it allows for carrying less of a load to weigh you down.

One of the most popular day hikes in Grand Canyon National Park is the 9-mile round-trip on the Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden and back. If you go, you must bring enough food and water — and sunscreen — to last the day. Because this hike starts by descending into the canyon — the easy part comes first. You’ll start at an elevation of 6,860 feet and drop to 3,800 feet — a hike that will take you 5-6 hours when taking plenty of breaks.

Overnight Backpacking

Grand Canyon - Phantom Ranch

Spending the night is the best way to experience Grand Canyon National Park. You can take more time to enjoy the scenery — and travel farther to see more of it. Traveling to the bottom of the canyon in one day, camping at the bottom, and coming up the next day is the best way to see the Colorado River. Most people can’t make it to the river and back in one day. The walk to Phantom Ranch is approximately 7.5 miles down the South Kaibab Trail (4-5 hours) or 10 miles on the Bright Angel Trail (4-6 hours). A good rule of thumb is for every hour it takes to hike down, it will take two to hike up.

Bicycling

Bicycling is a great way to experience the South Rim at Grand Canyon National Park. And bicycles are allowed on all paved and unpaved roads on the South Rim. Cyclists can enjoy approximately 13 miles of roads and Greenway Trails that allow for more intimate explorations along the rim. If you get tired, load your bike on one of the park’s bicycle-friendly shuttle buses – there is a bus stop every one-half to one-mile along the 13 mile-stretch.

Scenic Hermit Road follows the canyon rim for seven miles and is one of the best places in the park for cycling. Most of the year, private vehicle restrictions eliminate most traffic. The Hermit Road Greenway Trail, between Monument Creek Vista and Hermits Rest, provides a 2.8-mile bicycle path away from the road and, in places, along the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Don’t have a bike with you? Rent one from Bright Angel Bicycles, next to the Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Bright Angel Bicycles provides rentals and guided bicycle tours between mid-March and October 31.

There is also a small coffee bar and café with a grab & go menu targeted toward hikers, bikers and pedestrians. The café is open year-round.

Tour the Scenic Hermit Road (also known as West Rim Drive)

Hermit Road is a scenic route along the west end of Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim which follows the rim for seven miles out to Hermits Rest. Access this popular route by using the free park shuttle, or travel on foot, by bicycle, or commercial bus tour. Along the canyon rim are nine designated viewpoints where the free Hermits Rest Route shuttle bus stops.

Free shuttle bus service runs from March 1 through Nov. 30. During this time, the road is closed to private vehicles. Besides the main road, there is a designated greenway for travel by foot or bicycle. Commercial bus tours, jeep tours, and van tours, are also available.

Tour Desert View Drive (Hwy 64 – also known as East Rim Drive)

This 25 mile road leaves Grand Canyon Village, then travels east to Desert View. You can drive your private vehicle, or take a commercial bus tour, a jeep tour, or van tour. View the Colorado River at Moran, Lipan and Desert View Points. You may exit or enter the park on the eastern end at Desert View. (via Arizona Highways 64 and 89)

Explore Desert View Point

Grand Canyon - Watchtower

Climb to the top of a 70 ft. tall stone Watchtower for a panoramic view extending more than 100 miles on a clear day. Designed in 1932 by Mary Colter, the historic Watchtower is a replica of prehistoric towers found on the Colorado Plateau. There is also a general store, deli, seasonal campground, and gas station.

Experience Desert View’s Cultural Demonstration Program

At Desert View, you can interact with tribal artisans from Grand Canyon’s traditionally associated tribes – where they share their history and crafts. Jewelers, silversmiths, weavers, potters, sculptors, and a variety of other artisans are present throughout the year. The demonstrations are free and take place in the historic Watchtower on the rim of the Grand Canyon.

Tusayan Ruin

is the remains of a small Ancestral Puebloan village located 3 miles west of Desert View.
The Tusayan Ruins — also known as the Tusayan Pueblo — is an 800-year-old Pueblo Indian site within Grand Canyon National Park. Many consider it to be one of the major archeological sites in Arizona. The site comprises a small, u-shaped pueblo featuring a living area, storage rooms, and a kiva.

Tusayan Museum

Grand Canyon - Tusaynan Museum

This interactive facility contains a variety of exhibits designed to enhance visitors’ understanding of the unique human history of the Grand Canyon National Park area. The museum provides interesting displays — including artifacts dating back to 4,000 years. Admission is free. Hours: 9 am to 5 pm. There are also daily ranger-led tours of the ruins.

Explore the Grand Canyon on the back of a Mule

South Rim Mule Trips

Grand Canyon - Mule Trip

For the more adventurous visitor looking to create the memory of a lifetime, take a mule ride along the rim or perhaps down into the Grand Canyon itself. Horses may be iconic to the American West, but the equine of choice at Grand Canyon has long been its hybrid relative, the mule. These animals have the sure-footedness of a burro along with the larger size and strength of a horse. They have been carrying canyon visitors since the late 1800s. In fact, more than 600,000 people have taken Grand Canyon mule rides since they were first offered in 1887.

There is no Grand Canyon National Park adventure more rewarding or more unique than a mule ride. The overnight rides take you deep into the canyon, where you can stay overnight at Phantom Ranch. If you think the view from the rim takes your breath away, wait until you experience the Grand Canyon from within.

Canyon Vistas Mule Ride

If you only have a short time to visit the South Rim, but are still looking for some adventure, take the Canyon Vistas Rim Ride. The ride doesn’t take you into the canyon itself, but the views along the way are stunning. Grand Canyon mule riders can take in the breathtaking vistas of Grand Canyon National Park while traveling along the rim of the canyon.

Whitewater and Smooth-water Raft Trips on the Colorado River

Sit back, relax, listen and learn as you learn the story behind the scenery of one of America’s great rivers. Here, canyon walls rise a thousand feet into the sky. Mysterious messages have been carved into stone by the Ancient Ones. And, look skyward for eagles, herons, and maybe even a California condor as you drift on the crystal clear water, carried by the gentle current of the Colorado River.

Grand Canyon - Whitewater

Ask any of the 22,000 Colorado River runners who brave the Grand Canyon white water river rafting trips each year to describe the experience — and you’re likely to hear that it is “the trip of a lifetime.” Whitewater trips through Grand Canyon last from 3 days to 21 days and require reservations made well in advance.

Or, you can experience the thrill of a 15.5-mile smooth water float trip down the Colorado River, through Glen Canyon and Horseshoe Bend. Any lodge within the park may arrange half-day and all-day smooth water trips from Glen Canyon Dam. Excursions include transportation from the lodges.

Photographing the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon is one of the most iconic landscapes in the United States and is a favorite destination of many photographers. Although there are endless amazing photographic opportunities at Grand Canyon National Park, once you spend a little time at the rim, and you soon realize why most viewpoints are the best places to view and photograph the canyon. The overlooks are at places where the rocks jut out into the canyon, providing the best views.

Here are some of my favorite places to make lasting images…

  • Yaki Point – Best to shoot here at dawn.
  • Mather Point – The classic Grand Canyon view, and for good reason.
  • Mohave Point – A spectacular view of the river looking west.
  • Hopi Point – Another classic South Rim overlook with expansive views both east and west.
  • Desert View Point – The Watchtower with the river below and the Palisades of the Desert in the background. Makes a great sunset shot.

Attend Free Ranger Programs

Grand Canyon National Park offers one of the most extensive ranger programs in the National Park Service system. Learn more about Grand Canyon nature, science, history and culture with a park ranger as your guide.

Grand Canyon - Ranger Program

Ranger programs offer guided hikes, where you will learn about the wild inhabitants who survive in this place of extreme changes in elevation, exposure, and climate. Join a ranger to discover stories of humankind’s enduring relationship with the canyon, or to hear captivating stories about diverse human connections. Learn how the Grand Canyon was formed while exploring Yavapai Geology Museum. Or, enjoy special events and evening programs during the summer in a beautiful auditorium or outdoor amphitheater — like star walks, night hikes, cemetery tours, and more.

There are too many programs to list — and they are always changing, so check the South Rim Village or the South Rim Desert View Ranger Program schedule once you arrive.

Stop by a Visitor Center, Historic Home or Museum

And don’t forget the Visitor Centers, historic homes and museums that house exhibits and provide all the park information you’ll need for your stay at Grand Canyon National Park, including the film: Grand Canyon: A Journey of Wonder, that’s shown in the theater at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

Grand Canyon National Park

Click here to see the Grand Canyon National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our national parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob and the National Park Poster Project

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Best Things To Do in Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park protects the natural beauty of the highest rocky headlands along America’s Atlantic coastline. This 47,000-acre recreation area — primarily on Maine’s Mount Desert Island — features woodland, rocky beaches and glacier-scoured granite peaks such as Cadillac Mountain, the highest point on the United States’ East Coast. Among the wildlife are moose, bear, whales and seabirds. The bayside town of Bar Harbor, with restaurants and shops, is a popular gateway. And each year, more than 3.5 million people explore seven peaks above 1,000 feet, 158 miles of hiking trails, and 45 miles of carriage roads with 16 stone bridges.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 National Parks — and Acadia is great park the whole family can enjoy! I have explored most areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! So if this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Acadia National Park!

Explore Mount Desert Island

The majority of Acadia National Park is located on Mount Desert Island. The island offers an endless array of activities for everyone including a visit to Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff. Here, the mountains truly meet the sea and you can enjoy one of the most spectacular settings on the entire East Coast. With its beautiful coastal scenery, the island is a great location for hiking or ocean kayaking. Bar Harbor, the largest town on Mount Desert Island is often thought of as synonymous with the Park. But visitors can also stay in charming Northeast Harbor, Southwest Harbor, Bass Harbor, Otter Creek, Seal Harbor or Somesville.

Drive the Park Loop Road

Park Loop Road
The 27-mile Park Loop Road is the best way to navigate through Acadia National Park. The loop begins near the Hulls Cove Visitor Center on the north side of the island in Bar Harbor. It connects the park’s lakes, mountains, forests and rocky shores — making exploration easy. Sand Beach, Thunder Hole and Otter Cliff and other popular sites and trails can be reached from the road. 20 miles of the Park Loop Road is one way. But there is a two way section that begins near Wildwood Stables — perfect for taking in the magnificent views.

Hike, Bike & Ride the Carriage Roads

Carriage Roads
This 57-mile long network of paved paths created and financed by John D. Rockefeller Jr. provides hikers, bikers, inline skaters, horse riders, and horse-drawn carriages a unique way to visit Acadia National Park. Over the course of the 27-year project, Rockefeller designed the paths to highlight the best scenery in the park — circling around Jordan Pond, Eagle Lake and Mount Desert Island. The Carriage Roads are off-limits to motor vehicles. During the winter months, some of these allow for cross-country skiing and limited snowmobiling.

Explore Jordan Pond

Jordan Pond
When you think of the most idyllic spot in Acadia National Park, Jordan Pond with its pristine calm waters surrounded by lush, majestic mountains in all directions usually comes to mind. The Jordan Pond Nature Trail — an easy stroll through the evergreens — and the Jordan Pond Shore Trail — a more difficult trek along the rocky coast — spill out to the picturesque and pleasant respite of Jordan Pond. Regardless of your route, at the end you’ll find crystal-clear waters that mirror the surrounding mountains. Swimming is not allowed, but non-motorized boats such as canoes and kayaks are permitted.

Hike Cadillac Mountain

Cadillac Mountain
Cadillac Mountain — at 1530 feet — is not only is it the tallest mountain in the park, but it’s the tallest mountain on the North Atlantic seaboard. It’s also the first point of the United States to greet the rising sun — a spectacular sight to see. Largely composed of pink granite, it’s covered with spruce and pitch pine forests, tiny sub alpine plants, short gnarled trees and wild blueberries. You can hike the Cadillac Summit Loop Trail or drive the narrow 3.5-mile access road. The only attraction that can be reached by car, Cadillac Mountain tends to draw large crowds. There are several observation areas along the way — perfect for taking in the views before you reach the top.

Enjoy Sand Beach

Sand Beach
On the east side of Mount Desert Island, Sand Beach is nestled between two walls of solid pink granite and surrounded by towering evergreens. With 290 yards of shoreline, Sand Beach is the most popular beach in the park because the views are outstanding. And, you can hike up the Great Head Trail for an even better vantage point. The beach is largely comprised of sand and shell fragments created by the pounding surf. The waterline can vary quite a bit because of the difference between high and low tide.

Visit Otter Cliff

Otter Cliff
One of the most spectacular sights along the North Atlantic Seaboard, Otter Cliff is a classic stop along the Park Look Road. The famous 110 foot high granite precipice is one of the highest Atlantic coastal headlands. In the summer, you may see adventurous rock climbers working their way up the granite cliffs and whale pods spouting off shore. In the fall, large flocks of ducks congregate here in the waves before migrating south for the winter.

Experience Thunder Hole

Feel and hear the thunder of the sea against the rocky shores at this small inlet, naturally carved out of the rocks. At the end of this inlet is a semi-submerged cave where the waves rush in and air and water is forced out like a clap of thunder. Water can spray as high as 40 feet with a thunderous roar! To catch the big boom, there’s an element of luck, as well as timing. The best time to visit is when the tides are changing. From here, you can also take in the views — Schoodic Peninsula in the distance, Sand Beach to your left and Otter Cliff to the east.

Ride at Wildwood Stables

Wildwood Stables provides a variety of daily horse-drawn carriage rides and tours from end of May through mid-October of each year. Tours follow the famous and scenic carriage roads that were originally constructed by John D. Rockefeller. Tour lengths include one and two hours with the option to charter a private carriage driven by a Wildwood Stables’ coachman. The stables are located next to the picturesque Park Loop Road on the southeastern side of Mount Desert Island.

Explore Schoodic Point

Located at the southern tip of Schoodic Peninsula in Winter Harbor, Schoodic Point is composed of a craggy shoreline, granite headlands and spruce-fir forests. It provides one of the best places to view the pounding surf during rough seas as well as great views of Cadillac Mountain. Schoodic Point isn’t as easily accessible as some of the park’s other major attractions. But that’s precisely why park visitors find this area so special. There are four hiking trails; the Schoodic Head Trail, Anvil Trail and East Trail lead hikers through spruce-fir forests to pine woodlands at the top of Schoodic Head. The less-strenuous Alder Trail guides visitors through a shrubland.


Acadia National Park

Click here to see the Acadia National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our National Parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

Click here to learn more about Rob and the National Park Poster Project

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Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park (Part 1)

Blue Pool

One of the greatest experiences in Yellowstone National Park is witnessing its geologic wonders. Topping the list are the hydrothermal features: hot springs, mudpots, fumaroles, and geysers — particularly, Old Faithful. Well over 10,000 different hydrothermal features have been estimated to be active within the park. Even more incredible might be that over half of the world’s active geysers are found here. Every year, some 500-700 geysers are active. In 2011, it was determined that 1,283 geysers have been recorded as erupting in Yellowstone. This is truly incredible, when all of the rest of the world’s geysers combined number less than 500. Hydrothermal features are extremely dynamic, changing throughout the day, across seasons, and over the years. This makes revisiting the different thermal basins so interesting. Besides seeing familiar sites, you can also see how those areas have changed since the last visit.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 National Parks — and Yellowstone is one of my all-time favorites! I have explored most areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! So if this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Yellowstone National Park!

Yellowstone is huge…and this is the first of three posts describing what to do and what to see when you visit Yellowstone National Park. Read on to learn more about the southern part of the park.

Watch Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful Geyser
Watching Old Faithful Geyser erupt is a Yellowstone National Park tradition. People from all over the world have journeyed here to watch this famous geyser. The park’s wildlife and scenery might be as well-known today, but it was the unique thermal features like Old Faithful Geyser that inspired the establishment of Yellowstone as the world’s first national park in 1872. Old Faithful is one of nearly 500 geysers in Yellowstone and one of six that park rangers currently predict. It is uncommon to be able to predict geyser eruptions with regularity, but Old Faithful has lived up to its name, only lengthening the time between eruptions by about 30 minutes in the last 30 years. Thermal features change constantly and it is possible Old Faithful may stop erupting someday. Geysers and other thermal features are evidence of ongoing volcanic activity beneath the surface and change is part of this natural system.

Check out Fishing Bridge

The original bridge was built in 1902. It was a rough-hewn corduroy log bridge with a slightly different alignment than the current bridge. The existing bridge was built in 1937. Fishing Bridge was historically a tremendously popular place to fish. Angling from the bridge was quite good, due to the fact that it was a major spawning area for cutthroat trout. However, because of the decline of the cutthroat population (in part, a result of this practice), the bridge was closed to fishing in 1973.

Visit Yellowstone Lake

Yellowstone Lake

Large volcanic eruptions have occurred in Yellowstone approximately every 600,000 years. The most recent of these erupted from two large vents, one near Old Faithful and one just north of Fishing Bridge. Ash from this huge explosion — 1,000 times the size of Mount St. Helens — has been found all across the continent. The magma chamber then collapsed, forming a large caldera filled partially by subsequent lava flows. Part of this caldera is the 136-square mile basin of Yellowstone Lake. The original lake was 200 feet. higher than the present-day lake, extending northward across Hayden Valley to the base of Mt. Washburn.

Explore the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake

Members of the 1870 Washburn party noted that Yellowstone Lake was shaped like “a human hand with the fingers extended and spread apart as much as possible,” with the large west bay representing the thumb. In 1878, however, the Hayden Survey used the name West Arm for the bay. West Bay was also used. Norris’ maps of 1880 and 1881 used West Bay or Thumb. During the 1930s, park personnel attempted to change the name back to West Arm, but West Thumb remains the accepted name.

West Thumb

Explore the West Thumb Geyser Basin

West Thumb Geyser Basin, including Potts Basin to the north, is the largest geyser basin on the shores of Yellowstone Lake. The heat source of the hydrothermal features in this location is thought to be relatively close to the surface—only 10,000 feet down! The West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake was formed by a large volcanic explosion that occurred approximately 150,000 years ago. The resulting collapsed volcano later filled with water forming an extension of Yellowstone Lake. The West Thumb is about the same size as another famous volcanic caldera, Crater Lake in Oregon, but much smaller than the great Yellowstone Caldera. It is interesting to note that West Thumb is a caldera within a caldera. The hydrothermal features at West Thumb are found not only on the lake shore, but extend under the surface of the lake as well. Several underwater geysers were discovered in the early 1990s and can be seen as slick spots or slight bulges in the summer. During the winter, the underwater thermal features are visible as melt holes in the icy surface of the lake. The ice averages about three feet thick during the winter.

View Wildlife in Hayden Valley

Bison, Yellowstone National Park

Hayden Valley is located six miles north of Fishing Bridge Junction. Hayden Valley offers some of the best habitat in the lower 48 states for viewing wildlife like grizzly bears, bison, and elk. Hayden Valley was once filled by an arm of Yellowstone Lake and it contains fine-grained lake sediments that are now covered with glacial till left from the most recent glacial retreat, about 13,000 years ago. Because the glacial till contains many different grain sizes, including clay and a thin layer of lake sediments, water cannot percolate readily into the ground. This is why Hayden Valley is marshy and has little encroachment of trees.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park!

Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful Geyser

Click here to see the Old Faithful poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist with a single passion for our National Parks! Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph each of our national parks and to create WPA-style posters to celebrate the amazing landscapes, vibrant culture and rich history that embody America’s Best Idea!

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Best Things To Do in Mesa Verde National Park

Cliff Palace

Mesa Verde National Park was established in 1906 to preserve and interpret the archeological heritage of the Ancestral Pueblo people who made it their home for over 700 years, from 600 to 1300 CE. Today, the park protects nearly 5,000 known archeological sites, including 600 cliff dwellings. These sites are some of the most notable and best preserved in the United States.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 47 of our 61 National Parks — and Mesa Verde is a unique park, given its historical and archeological significance. I have explored most areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! So if this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Mesa Verde National Park!

Self-Guided Tours

Spruce Tree House – Best-Preserved Cliff Dwelling

Spruce Tree House
You can observe Spruce Tree House from viewpoints near the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum. Rangers are available at the overlook to answer questions and share information.

Mesa Top Loop Road – Auto Tour – 700 Years of Mesa Verde History

A 6-mile driving tour with short, paved trails. Twelve easily-accessible sites, including surface dwellings and cliff dwelling overlooks. Highlights include Square Tower House, Sun Point Overlook, and views of Cliff Palace from Sun Point and Sun Temple stops.

Far View Sites Complex – Five Mesa Top Villages & Far View Reservoir

Far View
Far View House plus four other villages and a dry reservoir on a level 3/4-mile (1.2 km) unpaved trail. Four miles north of the Chapin Mesa Archeological Museum.

Step House – Pithouse, Petroglyphs and Cliff Dwelling

Step House
A 100 foot descent and ascent on a winding path. Total walking distance is about one mile (1.6 km) round-trip. Allow 45 minutes to one hour. Trail begins near the Wetherill Mesa Kiosk.

Badger House Trail – Trail to Four Mesa Top Sites

The 2.25 mile round-trip trail through Badger House Community surface sites begins at Wetherill Mesa Kiosk. Your walk through this area is a journey through 600 years of prehistory. Combination gravel and paved trail.

Cliff Dwelling Guided Tours

Cliff Palace, Balcony House, and Long House can only be visited by taking a ranger-guided tour which are very popular. A tour of Long House, on Wetherill Mesa, can be taken on the same day as a Cliff Palace or Balcony House tour. Tours can be strenuous.

There are no height or age restrictions for tours, but children must be capable of walking the extent of the trails, climbing ladders, and negotiating steps independently. All infants must be carried in backpacks while on tours and adults carrying children in backpacks must be able to maintain mobility and balance.

Tour tickets for Balcony House, Cliff Palace, and Long House must be purchased in person. Tour tickets sell out quickly, but can be purchased up to two days in advance.

Cliff Palace – Mesa Verde’s Largest Cliff Dwelling


This one-hour, ranger-guided tour involves climbing five, 8-10 foot ladders, on a 100 foot vertical climb. Total walking distance is about 1/4-mile, round-trip. The tour begins at Cliff Palace Overlook, an 23-mile, one-hour drive from the Visitor and Research Center.

Cliff Palace Twilight Tours

Enjoy an intimate, leisurely encounter with Mesa Verde’s largest cliff dwelling. Dramatic sun lighting will appeal to both amateur and professional photographers as well as those seeking a deeper connection with this extraordinary archeological treasure.

Balcony House – Adventurous Cliff Dwelling Tour

Balcony House
This one-hour, ranger-guided tour involves climbing a 32-foot ladder, crawling through a 12-foot long tunnel, and climbing up a 60-foot open rock face with two 10-foot ladders to exit the site. The tour begins at the Balcony House parking area, a 25-mile, 1-1/4 hour drive from the Visitor Center.

Long House – Mesa Verde’s Most In-Depth Tour

Long House
Starting at the Wetherill Mesa information kiosk, this two-hour ranger-guided tour involves hiking at least 2.25 miles round-trip, and climbing two 15-foot ladders within the site. The hike has an elevation gain of about 130 feet. The tour ends at the Long House trailhead, giving you the choice of returning to the kiosk or exploring more of Wetherill Mesa on your own. Allow about 2.5 hours (total) for tour and return to kiosk.

Half-Day Guided Bus Tours

Mid-April to mid-October
Mesa Verde National Park concessioner, Aramark Leisure, conducts guided bus tours that offer modern views of the Ancestral Pueblo people. Tours include the 700 Years and Far View Explorer Tours. Tickets may be purchased at the Mesa Verde Visitor and Research Center, Far View Lodge and Terrace, and Morefield Campground.

Balcony House Sunrise Tour

Rise before dawn, and experience the magic of Balcony House at sunrise! For centuries, Pueblo farmers have been observing the sky and the change of seasons. Take the Sunrise Tour of Balcony House at summer solstice or fall equinox and join in the long tradition of skywatching in Mesa Verde.

On this 90-minute tour, you will climb a 32-foot ladder, crawl through and 18-inch wide and 12-foot long tunnel, and climb up a 60-foot open cliff face with stone steps and two 10-foot ladders to exit.

Cliff Palace Early Bird Tour

Looking for an early morning adventure? This daily, early bird tour offers the benefits of a smaller group size, cooler temperatures, and the ability to reserve a tour of Cliff Palace in advance with online reservations!

On this 60-minute tour, you will descend uneven stone steps and climb four ladders, with an elevation change of 100 feet. Total walking distance is 1/4 mile.

Evening Programs

Morefield Campground Evening Program

In 1907, archeologist Jesse Fewkes began the first evening campfire talks in the history of the National Park Service at Mesa Verde. That tradition continues today. Enjoy a free, 45-60 minute presentation each evening by rangers at the Morefield Amphitheater (weather permitting). The amphitheater is located at the end of the road in Morefield Campground. Bring a flashlight. Program is free and offered each evening.

Bird Watching

Mesa Verde National Park is home to several distinct habitats. The types of species which you will encounter depends on the habitat present. If you are an avid birder, make sure to purchase a copy of the brochure, “Checklist of the Birds.” This will help you locate where species are found in the park. The listing of birds in this page will get you started as a bird watcher in Mesa Verde.

Take the Petroglyph Point or Spruce Canyon Trail and look for warblers, flycatchers, woodpeckers, jays, hawks, chickadees, titmice, and other species. The Knife Edge Trail also has good birding. If you are lucky, you may see a peregrine falcon or a golden eagle soar from its nest out across the Montezuma Valley.

During the summer months, you can walk the Soda Canyon Overlook Trail near Balcony House, or the short trail to the Park Point lookout. The Park Point area is a good place to see hawks, towhees, grouse and eagles, in addition to the many species listed above.

In the fall, you may want to take the Knife Edge Trail early in the morning to catch migrating warblers and hummingbirds feeding on the Indian Paint Brush.

During winter months, be on the lookout for chickadees, nuthatches, an occasional brown creeper, canyon wrens, woodpeckers, flickers, and jays during your Spruce Tree House tour. Turkey vultures usually arrive in late March and leave in early October, so the large black birds you see will likely be common ravens or the vivid black-billed magpie.

Photography

Picture Taking Tips

Some cliff dwellings are open only from late spring through early fall. During the off-season, photos may be taken from the overlooks above the cliff dwellings, weather permitting.

Most of the cliff dwellings are best photographed in mid-to-late afternoon.

If you have an adjustable lens we suggest you close your lens down at least 1/2 stop from what the photo meter indicates (spot meters excepted). For example, in black and white photography the front walls of Cliff Palace will give your meter a false light reading. We suggest you bracket your settings on Cliff Palace exposures.

If you are looking for pointers to help you make your summer snapshots look more like professional photographs, see the Amateur Photographer’s Guide to Mesa Verde National Park (pdf, 317 kb).

Best Times to Photograph by Season

June to September – 3:45 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
October to November – 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
December to March – 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
April to May – 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

During mid and late fall and early and mid spring the sun is lower in the southern sky and more light strikes the cliff dwellings. Winter light is generally less bright. On overcast days the soft light allows for photos to be taken that will show good details and subtle colors. During the winter months there is less vegetation obstructing views from the overlooks after the scrub oak has lost its leaves for the season.

Stargazing

While not offered as a guided activity, Mesa Verde National Park provides wonderful opportunities for stargazing. Since there are no large cities in the Four Corners region, there is very little artificial light to detract from the stars in the night sky. Most nights the skies are clear and full of stars. On a clear night, you can see the Milky Way. The locations recommended for stargazing in the park are listed below:

Far View Lodge

The only lodging available in the park from mid-April to mid-October. Each room has a balcony where guests can see for miles. For visitor safety, this area is well-lit. You may want to seek out a darker place, if this obstructs your view of the stars.

Morefield Campground

The only place to camp in the park from mid-May to mid-October. Located in the Morefield Valley, this is an especially place good for looking at stars since there is little artificial light. Join a ranger at the Morefield Amphitheater for the nightly (Memorial Day through Labor Day) campfire program. Bring a flashlight for the walk back to your campsite.

Montezuma or Mancos Overlooks

These are really the best areas in the park for stargazing. If you are staying outside of the park or want to get away from artificial lights, both of these overlooks along the Main Park Road provide views of the twinkling lights of the valley towns and the stars above. Unfortunately, these areas are not available for overnight camping.


Mesa Verde National Park

Click here to see the Mesa Verde National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!

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Best Things To Do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Great Smoky Mountains National Park encompasses more than 800 square miles and is one of the most pristine natural areas in the eastern United States. There are many ways to enjoy the park — an auto tour, bicycling, hiking, horseback rides — and take in the panoramic views, tumbling mountain streams, weathered historic buildings, and mature hardwood forests stretching to the horizon.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 48 of our 61 National Parks — and Great Smoky Mountains is one well worth the visit. I have explored many areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! If this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Great Smoky Mountains National Park!

Auto Touring

There are 384 miles of road to choose from in the Smokies. Most are paved, and even the gravel roads are maintained in suitable condition for standard passenger cars. Travel speeds on most of the park’s paved roads average 35 miles per hour.
Great Smoky Mountains - Cades Cove
Here are some of the more popular routes:

  • Cades Cove Loop Road
  • Cataloochee Valley
  • Newfound Gap Road
  • Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail
  • Upper Tremont Road

Fishing

Great Smoky Mountains Fishing
Great Smoky Mountains National Park has about 2,900 miles of streams within its boundaries. Approximately 600 miles of stream contain fish, providing for an abundance of angling opportunities from high elevation trout streams to cool water low elevation streams.

Rainbow trout, brown trout, and the native brook trout are the fish that are primarily targeted by fisherman inside the park. However, the streams of the Great Smoky Mountains do offer other angling opportunities. Smallmouth bass are another native game fish species that can be found in a number of the large lower elevation streams in the national park.

Hiking


Hikers enjoy the Smoky Mountains during all months of the year with every season offering is own special rewards. During winter, the absence of deciduous leaves opens new vistas along trails and reveals stone walls, chimneys, foundations, and other reminders of past residents. Spring provides a weekly parade of wildflowers and flowering trees. In summer, walkers can seek out cool retreats among the spruce-fir forests and balds or follow splashy mountain streams to roaring falls and cascades. Autumn hikers have crisp, dry air to sharpen their senses and a varied palette of fall colors to enjoy.

Hiking with children? Kid-friendly hikes are an excellent way to learn and enjoy the outdoors. Check at the Visitor Center for your best options.

Horse Riding

Horseback Rides

Guided horseback rides are available at four concession horseback riding stables in the park from mid-March through late November. Rides on scenic park trails are offered lasting from 45 minutes to several hours. All rides proceed at a walking pace.

Hayrides

Cades Cove Riding Stables offers a 1.5 – 2 hour hayride around the Cades Cove Loop Road. Passengers sit on a bed of hay in a trailer pulled by a truck and enjoy an open air view of the scenery of Cades Cove.

Ranger-led hayrides are also offered on some evenings on a first-come, first-served basis. See the Schedule of Events for scheduled ranger-led hayrides.

Carriage and Wagon Rides

Carriage or wagon rides are offered at two of the horseback riding stables in the park. These rides provide an opportunity to experience a 20-30 minute horse-drawn carriage or wagon ride on a park trail.

Carriage Ride – Cades Cove, near Townsend, TN
Wagon Ride – Smokemont, near Cherokee, NC

Picnicking

Picnic areas are located at Big Creek, Chimneys, Cades Cove, Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, Heintooga, Look Rock, Metcalf Bottoms, and Twin Creeks.

The picnic areas at Cades Cove, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, and Metcalf Bottoms remain open year-round. The remaining picnic areas are closed during the winter.

Picnic pavilions are available at Collins Creek, Cosby, Deep Creek, Greenbrier, Metcalf Bottoms, and Twin Creeks, Pavilions can be reserved for groups one year in advance.

Waterfalls

Great Smoky Mountains - Waterfall
Every year over 200,000 visitors hike well-worn trails to view Grotto, Laurel, Abrams, Rainbow, and other popular waterfalls in the park. Large waterfalls attract the crowds, but smaller cascades and falls can be found on nearly every river and stream in the park.

The Great Smoky Mountains abound with the two ingredients essential for waterfalls-ample rainfall and an elevation gradient. In the Smokies high country, over 85″ of rain falls on average each year. During wet years, peaks like Mt. Le Conte and Clingmans Dome receive over eight feet of rain. This abundant rainfall trickles and rushes down the mountain sides, from high elevation to low, sometimes dropping more than a mile in elevation from the high peaks to the foothills at the park’s boundary.

Waterfalls You Can Drive To

Meigs Falls

The pulloff to view Meigs Falls is along Little River Road, 13 miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center (7 miles east of Townsend). The falls is tucked away on the far side of Little River and can be easily missed while driving.

The Sinks

This waterfall is short in stature, but its volume includes the entire flow of Little River. The parking area to view the falls is along Little River Road, 12 miles west of Sugarlands Visitor Center.

Place of a Thousand Drips

During wet periods, this waterfall is dramatic as the flow of water splits into numerous small channels cascading around rocks and creating “a thousand drips.”

Wildlife Viewing

Great Smoky Mountains Wildlife
Viewing wildlife in the Smokies can be challenging because most of the park is covered by dense forest. Open areas like Cataloocheeand Cades Cove offer some of the best opportunities to see white-tailed deer, elk, black bear, raccoon, turkeys, woodchucks, and other animals. The narrow, winding road of Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail encourages motorists to travel at a leisurely pace and sometimes yields sightings of bears and other wildlife. During winter wildlife is more visible because deciduous trees have lost their leaves.

Because many animals are most active at night, it can be advantageous to look for wildlife during morning and evening. It’s also a good idea to carry binoculars. Some people like to sit quietly beside a trail to see what wildlife will come out of hiding. And don’t forget to scan the trees—many animals spend their days among the branches.

So, if you’ve never been to Great Smoky Mountains National Park — put it on you bucket list! If you have been, you might enjoy my WPA-style poster for Great Smoky Mountains National Park to celebrate your adventures!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Click here to see the Great Smoky Mountains National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!

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Best Things To Do in Big Bend National Park

Los Chisos Mountains

Big Bend National Park offers nearly limitless opportunities for scenic driving, hiking, camping, backpacking, mountain biking, horseback riding, bird watching, wildlife observation, and stargazing. Additionally, the Rio Grande borders the park for 118 miles providing options for half-day floats to extended excursion by raft, canoe, or kayak.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 47 of our 61 National Parks — and Big Bend is one well worth the visit. I have explored many areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! So if this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Big Bend National Park!

Scenic Drives

Chihuahuan Desert
100 miles of paved roads and 150 miles of dirt roads connect the desert to the mountains and the river and offer exceptional ways to explore the park by vehicle.

Here are the top five scenic drives — on paved roads!

Chisos Basin Road – 6 miles

A drive to the Chisos Basin is an excellent way to experience the transition between arid desert and cooler mountain habitats. As this scenic, winding road rises over two thousand feet above the desert floor, it offers breath-taking vistas of the mountain peaks and the erosion-formed basin area. The Chisos Basin has a visitor center, campground, lodge, restaurant, camp store, and access to miles of hiking trails.

Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive – 30 miles

A trip along the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive highlights the geologic splendor Big Bend is famous for, and offers many scenic overlooks and exhibits along the way. Sotol Vista, Mule Ears Overlook, and Tuff Canyon are all worthwhile stops. Continue the drive to the magnificent Santa Elena Canyon, where limestone cliffs rise 1,500′ above the Rio Grande. A short trail leads into the canyon.

Panther Junction to Rio Grande Village – 21 miles

The drive to Rio Grande Village traverses ancient limestone and has marvelous vistas across the river to the magnificent Sierra del Carmen escarpment. In twenty miles, the road descends nearly two thousand feet. There are several worthwhile stops and highlights along the way. Dugout Wells includes a desert nature trail and a shady oasis, nice for picnicking and birding. A soak in the Historic Hot Springs is also a popular activity.

Persimmon Gap to Panther Junction – 28 miles

This road connects the north entrance to park headquarters at Panther Junction. From Persimmon Gap, the road descends a long, gentle, gravel slope to Tornillo creek and Tornillo Flat. The Rosillos Mountains rise to the west; to the east the Dead Horse Mountains dominate the skyline.

Maverick Entrance Station to Panther Junction – 23 miles

This drive, through striking desert scenery, has excellent views of the surrounding mountains. Several roadside exhibits describe wildlife that might be seen along the drive. Junctions for the Chisos Basin road and Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive are located along this route.

Hiking

Day Hikes

Big Bend is a hiker’s paradise containing the largest expanse of roadless public lands in Texas. More than 150 miles of trails offer opportunities for day hikes or backpacking trips.

Desert Hikes

The Chihuahuan Desert covers about 80% of the park and surrounds the Chisos Mountains. Bare, rocky ground and sparse vegetation are hallmarks of the desert, but there is plenty of life here. Look for termite nests along plant stems, exoskeletons of millipedes, animal scat, and rodent and reptile tunnels. Bird life is plentiful, especially in the morning; look for nests hidden in yuccas and cacti. In the spring, bluebonnets, paintbrush, bi-color mustard, desert marigold, yucca, ocotillo, and cacti blossoms add color to the desert landscape.

Mountain Hikes

The Chisos Mountains contain some of the most rewarding day hikes in Big Bend, especially during the summer months when it is too hot to hike at lower elevations in the park. It is not uncommon to see tracks and scat of black bear, mountain lions, and gray fox along Chisos Mountains trails. Carmen Mountain white-tailed deer, rock squirrels, whiptail lizards, spotted towhees, tufted titmice, and Mexican jays are also common in these mountains.

River Hikes

The Rio Grande creates a distinct environment in Big Bend National Park. Countless bird species can be found in the riverbank vegetation. The river provides water for many desert animals; look along the muddy shoreline for tracks, signs, and scat.

Backpacking

Backpacking in the Desert

The most remote areas of Big Bend National Park are best left to experienced backpackers. Each year, park rangers respond to desert emergencies when hikers are not prepared for the heat and extreme conditions of the desert. Due to the complex topography and vague trails/routes, a topographic map and a compass/gps are necessary for some hikes. Not for novices, you will need to be fully equipped and physically prepared to pack your gear and water into the desert and camp primitively.

River Trips

Santa Elena Canyon

Floating the Rio Grande

Big Bend offers a variety of river adventures. Enjoy a day trip, or plan an extended float through spectacular limestone canyons. If you have the time and a spirit of adventure, you may want to consider a river trip. Seeing the park’s canyons from the middle of the Rio Grande can be an incredible experience. There are many possibilities including half-day floats or multi-day excursions.

Floating the Rio Grande can take you through miles of canyons up to 1,500 feet deep, where the sunlight may reach the bottom only briefly on winter days. As in other parts of the park, your ears may tell you more than your eyes. Listen for beavers crawling through the brush;you might catch a glimpse as one slides down the riverbank into the water. Turtles, especially red-eared sliders, often sun themselves on rocks and logs just above the waterline. Great blue herons and green kingfishers are just some of the many birds you may see flying along the river.

Bicycling

Lightly traveled roads and varied terrain make Big Bend a premier bicycling location. Over 100 miles of paved roads and 150 miles of backcountry dirt roads provide challenges for riders of all types and abilities. Bicyclists must be extremely cautious and well-prepared, but bicycling allows outstanding panoramic views unobstructed by a windshield. It also allows the bicyclist to see and hear some of the smaller wonders of Big Bend from a more intimate viewpoint.

Bird Watching

Big Bend’s position near the 100th meridian in the middle of the continent and along a migration route makes the park ideal for bird diversity throughout the year. Northern species migrate here for the warm winter climate, while birds from the tropics range this far north to breed in the spring. One of Big Bend’s highlights, the Colima warbler, is a predominantly Mexican species that only nests in the United States in the Chisos Mountains from April to September.

Fishing

Sometimes visiting a National Park can seem as though time is not on your side and the pace of “have to see everything” takes over. Perhaps fishing, which might seem unusual in a desert park, could be just what the “ranger” ordered. This activity is less harried, relaxing, and most of all, edible. Fishing the Rio Grande is something that is fun for visitors of all ages. And best of all it’s free, and requires no Texas fishing license. All that is required is a fishing permit which may be obtained at any open visitor center. So if a lazy day by the Rio Grande is something you might enjoy, ask a ranger about fishing opportunities here in the park.

Stargazing

El Capitan
On the clearest nights, more than 2,500 stars are visible to the naked eye! Big Bend is known as one of the outstanding places in North America for stargazing. In fact, it has the least light pollution of any other National Park unit in the lower 48 states. One factor that makes this possible is simply the sparse human occupation of this region.


I’ve created a WPA-style poster for Big Bend National Park to celebrate the 75th Anniversary!

Big Bend 75th Anniversary

Click here to see the Big Bend National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!

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Best Things To Do in Zion National Park

Zion National Park

At Zion National Park, you can follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. Gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. Experience wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. Zion’s unique array of plants and animals will enchant you as you absorb the rich history of the past and enjoy the excitement of present day adventures.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! I’ve been to 47 of our 61 National Parks — and Zion is an amazing place and well worth the visit. I have explored almost every area of the park — so I’m ready to help! So if this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some of the best things to do in Zion National Park!

Backpacking

The Zion Wilderness is a world-renowned destination that offers opportunities for solitude and adventure. With over 90 miles of trails, dozens of designated backpacking sites, multiple at-large camping areas, and 124,406 acres of designated wilderness, Zion National Park offers a variety of unique backpacking opportunities.

Bicycling

Bicycling is permitted on all park roadways and on the Pa’rus Trail. All other park trails, off-trail routes, and the Zion-Mt. Carmel Tunnel are closed to bikes. The Pa’rus Trail and Zion Canyon Scenic Drive are accessible to bicycles. The park shuttles also have bike racks.

Birding

Zion is home to 291 species of birds. What is great about visiting Zion National Park is that the park has always been an important part of this vital recovery effort. The peregrine falcon, the California condor, the Mexican spotted owl, and the bald eagle are all found here. This place of protection and sanctuary harbored these birds with a safe haven where their needs for food, nesting, and habitat never changed. Bird checklists are available at the visitor centers.

Camping

Zion National Park has three campgrounds. South and Watchman Campgrounds are in Zion Canyon. The Lava Point Campground is about a 1-hour drive from Zion Canyon on the Kolob Terrace Road. There are no campgrounds in Kolob Canyons. Camping is permitted in designated campsites, but not in pullouts or parking lots. Camping is popular; all campgrounds are often full by mid-morning. From mid-March through late November the campgrounds are full almost every night. Reservations at South Campgroundand Watchman Campground (Call 877-444-6777 or visit www.recreation.gov) are recommended if you would like to guarantee a camping spot.

Canyoneering

Zion, Climbing
Canyoneering is an outdoor activity that combines route finding, rappelling, problem solving, swimming, and hiking. Zion National Park has become one of the premier places in the country to participate in this exciting activity. With dozens of different canyons to explore, some barely wide enough for a human to squeeze through, the park offers opportunities that range from trips for beginners to experiences requiring advanced technical skills.

Climbing & Bouldering

Zion National Park’s 2,000-foot sandstone cliffs are world renowned for their big wall climbs. Due to their difficulty, most routes in the park are not recommended for inexperienced climbers. There are few top roping and sport climbing areas.

There are two accessible bouldering areas in the main canyon. One is 40 yards west of the south entrance. This is a house sized boulder that poses a variety of options and problems. The other site is .5 mile north of the south entrance. Drilled Pocket Boulder is located on the west side of the road and is a slab with an obvious south facing crack.

Hiking

Zion offers many trails ranging from short walks to strenuous adventures. Hiking in Zion, even short hikes, requires advance planning. The group size limit for all wilderness trails, including The Narrows beyond Orderville Canyon, is 12 people.

Zion Canyon: Some of the most popular trails in the national park are located in Zion Canyon.

Kolob Canyons: Several hiking options are located at Kolob Canyons, the northwest corner of Zion National Park.

Wilderness: Much longer hikes are located in the Zion Wilderness. Overnight trips require a wilderness permit.

The Narrows

Zion, Hiking the NarrowsThe Narrows is the narrowest section of Zion Canyon. This gorge, with walls a thousand feet tall and the river sometimes just twenty to thirty feet wide, is one of the most popular areas in Zion National Park. You can see The Narrows by hiking along the paved, wheelchair accessible Riverside Walk for one mile from the Temple of Sinawava. If you wish to see more, you will be walking in the Virgin River. This can involve wading upstream for just a few minutes or it can be an all day hike.

Ranger-Led Activities

Enhance your understanding and enjoyment of Zion National Park by taking part in a ranger program. Limited programming may be offered throughout the year, but the full program schedule in Zion Canyon is from mid-April to mid-October. Topics include geology, plants, animals, human history, and more. All ranger-led programs are free and for all ages. Ranger led programs are required to earn a Junior Ranger Badge.

Sunset and Stargazing

Stay for sunset and epic views of Zion’s cliffs glowing vivid neon orange in the late day sun. Stay later, or spend the night in one of Zion’s campgrounds for an entirely different and memorable Zion experience: the dark night sky, filled with thousands of stars, above the jagged silhouette of cliffs. Zion is a great place to reconnect with the night sky, or maybe even get your first view of the Milky Way. Zion protects this dark sky resource for future generations by not lighting up the night. But this means that after sunset, the park is dark! Be prepared!

No matter what you decide to do, you can’t go wrong in Zion National Park. With it’s awe-inspiring views, water and wilderness, Zion has something for everyone!

I’ve created a poster for Zion National Park — one that features a view of the Watchman from the shores of the Virgin River.

Zion National Park

Click here to see the Zion National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!

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Best Things to do in Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake

Crater Lake inspires awe. Fed by rain and snow, it’s the deepest lake in the United States and one of the most pristine on earth. Artists, photographers, and sightseers gaze in wonder at its blue water and stunning setting atop the Cascade Mountain Range.

Crater Lake is also one of the snowiest inhabited places in the US. Each winter, deep snow forces the closure of the park’s Rim Drive and North Entrance to cars — and Rim Drive becomes a trail for skiing and snowshoeing; the North Entrance road becomes a snowmobile trail. These roads close for the season with the first big October snowstorm, or on November 1, whichever comes first.

Plowing closed roads typically begins in mid-April. But it takes a long time to open them up and there are no set dates. The North Entrance and West Rim Drive can open as early as mid-May or as late as the end of June. The East Rim Drive fully opens sometime between mid-June and late July.

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and graphic artist with a single great passion for America’s National Parks! Crater Lake is an amazing place and well worth the visit. If you’re a winter sports enthusiast, then go early. Otherwise, I’d recommend that you go during the warmer summer months when all of the activities will be available to you during your stay — sometimes roads, trails and campgrounds are closed due to snow. So if this is your first time to the park, or your returning after many years, here are some things you should know about Crater Lake National Park!

Winter Activities

The park receives an average of 43 feet of snow each year, making the winter months challenging. However, if you’re prepared, the parks winter trails and unplowed roads provide skiers and snowshoers with access to open slopes, dense forests, and breathtaking views, making Crater Lake ideal for both day-trippers and backcountry visitors.

Ranger Led Snowshoe Walks

Snowshoe Hike

Ranger-guided snowshoe walks become increasingly popular each year. The walks generally last two hours, and cover 1 to 2 miles of moderate-to-strenuous terrain. The ranger determines the route but most walks begin at Rim Village and continue through the sub-alpine forests and meadows along the lake rim.

The park provides snowshoes at no cost or you are welcome to use your own. Previous snowshoeing experience is not necessary but coming prepared with warm clothing and water-resistant footwear is required. All participants must be at least 8 years of age.

Space on each tour is limited, and advance reservations are required. As winter approaches, call the park’s visitor center at 541-594-3100 for information on how to sign up. The visitor center is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm except on December 25. Organized groups may be able to arrange for a separate tour, if staff is available.

Sledding

Many opportunities for sledding can be found throughout the park but there are no designated sled hills or snow play areas. Select a location with a gentle slope that is free of trees and other obstacles. The slope should end with a flat landing for safe and easy stopping. One popular spot is the open meadow south of Crater Lake Lodge. For your safety, sledding, tubing, and tobogganing are prohibited in the caldera and on all roadways within the park where vehicle traffic may occur and in all parking lots.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Snowboarding and downhill skiing are allowed in the park but are absolutely prohibited in the caldera. The park does not have any chairlifts. All downhill skiers and snowboarders must hike up to a destination before riding down a slope. Be familiar with the up and down routes, and potential dangers. Know how to self-rescue. Assisted rescues in avalanche areas, and from places hard to reach may take more than 24 hours.

Avalanche terrain exists in the park but there is no formal avalanche forecasting. If you choose to be in avalanche areas carry probes, snow shovels, and avalanche transceivers. Taking an avalanche course is recommended.

Bicycling

Bicycling Crater Lake

Each year, increasing numbers of cyclists come to Crater Lake National Park to ride around the lake on the physically demanding, 33 mile Rim Drive. Steep hills at high elevation may encourage even the most fit riders to pause at many of the road’s thirty overlooks and pull-outs. The payoff however is spectacular scenery, viewed at a pace that few visitors choose to take enough time for.

Rules and Safety

Riders face many hazards including high speeds on steep downhill sections, rocks, animals, potholes and other road hazards as well as heavy traffic volume. Only cyclists experienced at riding with auto traffic should consider road biking at Crater Lake. Park roads seldom have shoulders and no bike lanes exist. Bicycles are not permitted on park trails. Water is available only at Rim Village, Park Headquarters, and Mazama Village.

Mountain Biking

Crater Lake has one dirt road where mountain biking is allowed. The Grayback Drive provides eight miles of unpaved and vehicle free roadway. Those seeking the thrill of single track trails will have to look outside the park. Crater Lake does not offer any single track mountain biking trails.

Winter Fat Tire Biking

The activity of fat tire biking is growing in popularity in many winter recreation areas. But current park regulation prohibit the use and operation of fat tire bikes on winter trails within the park.

Crater Lake Boat Tours

Crater Lake Boat Tours

The best way to see Crater Lake is by boat! For visitors seeking to explore Wizard Island, we offer either a boat cruise or a quick shuttle ride straight to the island. There is a 2.2-mile round-trip trail (down to the boat dock and back) that drops approximately 700 ft. Due to the strenuous nature of this trail, we do not recommend these tours to anyone with medical or physical issues. The hike down to the dock takes approximately 30-45 minutes.

Camping

Mazama Campground

Lost Creek Campground is a small, tents-only campground located on the road to Pinnacles Overlook, three miles from the rim of Crater Lake. It usually opens in early July and closes in mid-October. In July and August, the campground typically fills by mid-afternoon.  Each site has a picnic table and bear-resistant food locker.

Mazama Campground is located 7 miles south of Rim Village near Highway 62 in a forested setting. The campground is open only during the summer. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring, and bear-resistant food locker..

Backcountry Camping

Crater Lake National Park has over 90 miles of hiking trails that are accessible in the summer months, providing visitors a great way to discover the park. Come prepared to hike at elevations in changing weather patterns. Park elevations range from around 4,500 feet to almost 9,000 feet above sea level, and depending on the time of year, weather conditions can go from sunny and clear to heavy snow in just a few hours. If you’re new to backcountry camping and travel, seek the proper training and advice of an experienced friend or park ranger. Always tell a friend your plans and remember safety is your responsibility.

Backcountry Camping Permits

A backcountry camping permit is required year-round for all overnight trips in the backcountry. The free permit is only valid for the dates, locations, and party size specified. Permits are not required for day hiking; however, day hikers must observe all backcountry regulations.

All backcountry camping permits are issued free of charge and must be obtained in person, during business hours. You must have a valid park entrance pass for the entire length of your trip. For more information about backcountry camping permits, contact the backcountry office by phone at (541) 594-3060.

Ranger-Led Activities & Exhibits

The Sinnott Memorial Overlook, perched on a rock ledge behind the Rim Visitor Center, features an indoor exhibit room and an open parapet with spectacular lake views. The overlook has a relief model and exhibits on the park’s geology and lake research. The overlook is open daily (weather permitting) from late June through October. Hours are 9:30 am to 6:30 pm in July and August, 9:30 am to 5:00 pm in June and September, and 10:00 am to 4:00 pm in October. Unfortunately, the overlook is not accessible to people with limited mobility; it is located down a steep, historic walkway with stairs. Ranger talks are presented daily from late June to late September.

Crater Lake National Park

Click here to see the Crater Lake National Park poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!

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Best Things To Do In Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park’s 415 square miles encompass and protect some of the world’s most spectacular mountain environments. Trail Ridge Road – which crests at over 12,000 feet offers awe-inspiring overlooks to see these subalpine and alpine worlds. With more than 300 miles of hiking trails, and wildflowers, wildlife, and starry nights — in a world of superlatives, Rocky is on top!

My name is Rob Decker and I’m a photographer and national park enthusiast. In fact, I’ve been to more than 40 of our amazing national parks. Rocky Mountain National Park is literally in my backyard, and I have explored almost every area of the park — so I’m ready to help! Whether this is your first time to Rocky Mountain, or if you are returning after many years and would like to be re-introduced to the park — this list of the best things to do is just for you!

Hiking

Rocky Mountain National Park has 355 miles of hiking trails. They range from flat lakeside strolls to steep mountain peak climbs. If you are new to the park consult with rangers at the visitor centers and backcountry office. They can provide advice about trails which are appropriate to different fitness and experience levels.

As you plan your hike, keep in mind that park elevations range from 7,500 to over 12,000 feet. Even very fit individuals coming from lower elevations may experience altitude problems. Symptoms include headaches, shortness of breath, insomnia and rapid heartbeat. After a few days your body will have made some physiological adjustments to higher elevations, but full acclimation may take weeks. To minimize symptoms drink plenty of fluids, avoid alcohol, don’t skip meals and get plenty of rest.

If you have never hiked before or are traveling with children, check out the recommended accessible trails. Ranger-led walks are free and can increase your confidence while you learn more about the park. Rocky Mountain National Park is a great place to discover how traveling by foot brings you closer to nature.

Fishing

Lily Lake - Rocky Mountain National Park

Sport fishing is permitted in Rocky Mountain National Park. Fishing activities are balanced with efforts to restore and perpetuate natural aquatic environments and life. Fishing was popular with early settlers and visitors in the Rocky Mountains.

In an attempt to improve the sport, many streams and lakes were stocked with non-native species of trout. Waters with no sport fish were also stocked. The National Park Service stocked non-native Yellowstone cutthroat trout as late as 1969. The only trout native to the park are the greenback cutthroat and the Colorado River cutthroat. These efforts to enhance recreational opportunities in National Park areas were reconsidered in the 1970s. Since 1975, native greenback cutthroat and Colorado River cutthroat trout are being restored to park waters and exotic or non-native fish are being removed.

Wildlife Viewing

Rocky Mountain National Park visitors have a passion for viewing wild animals, especially the big ones. With an elk herd numbering between 600 to 800 in the winter, about 350 bighorn sheep, numerous mule deer and a small population of moose calling the park home, it’s no surprise that wildlife watching is rated the number-one activity by a vast majority of Rocky’s three million annual visitors.

Elk - Rocky Mountain National Park

Wildlife Viewing Tips

The park’s great large-animal population makes it one of the country’s top wildlife watching destinations. But there is much more to see than these so-called “charismatic megafauna.” Also found are nearly 60 other species of mammals; more than 280 recorded bird species; six amphibians, including the federally endangered boreal toad; one reptile (the harmless garter snake); 11 species of fish; and countless insects, including a surprisingly large number of butterflies.

Some basic knowledge of animal habits and habitats greatly enhances prospects of spotting Rocky Mountain’s wild residents. A few park favorites:

  • Elk can be seen anytime, a popular viewing period being the fall rut, or mating season. Look for elk in meadows and where meadow and forest meet.
  • Bighorn sheep are commonly seen at Sheep Lakes from May through mid-August.
  • Moose frequent willow thickets along the Colorado River in the Kawuneeche Valley on the park’s west side.
  • Otters were reintroduced into the Colorado River area and are doing fairly well. These animals are difficult to spot.
  • Mule deer are common and can be seen anywhere. They are most often found at lower elevations in open areas.
  • Bats feed over lakes and ponds at dawn and dusk.
  • Marmots and pikas favor rocky areas. Marmots are best seen on the alpine tundra along Trail Ridge Road. Pikas – small, light-colored mammals – are common in rock piles. Listen for their sharp, distinctive bark and watch for movement.
  • Clark’s nutcrackers, Steller’s jays, golden eagles and prairie falcons can be seen along Trail Ridge Road.
  • White-tailed ptarmigans, some of the most sought-after birds in Rocky Mountain National Park, are common but difficult to spot. For best results, hike on the tundra and look carefully. Ptarmigans usually remain still, relying on their natural camouflage for protection.
  • American dippers, or water ouzels, can be found along most streams. Listen for their loud call, similar to the rapid clicking of two stones together, as they fly up and down their territories.

Despite their good intentions, some wildlife watchers are loving park animals to death. Feeding junk food to wildlife reduces its ability to survive the long mountain winter. When they panhandle by roadsides, animals fall easy prey to automobiles. As they become habituated to humans and lose their natural fear, the animals become aggressive and may be destroyed. Harassing or feeding wildlife is illegal in all national parks.

Horseback Riding

Horses have been part of Rocky Mountain Park’s tradition since its designation in 1915. Recreational pack animal use is balanced with other recreational uses such as hiking. Packing is managed to maintain the natural resources and unique ecosystems in the park. Horses, mules, ponies, llamas, and burros are allowed on park trails. No goats are allowed on park trails.

For overnight camping, stock is permitted at established backcountry campsites designated for stock use. There are two stables located within the park: Glacier Creek Stables and Moraine Park Stables. There are many stables outside the park. Find contact information for the various stables in the area.

There are two Estes Park stables open in the winter: Sombrero Stables and Aspen Lodge Stables. Approximately 260 miles of trails are open to commercial and private horse use, which makes up about 80% of the total trail network in the park.

Wilderness Camping

Rocky Mountain National Park offers some unique camping experiences and here are some things to consider when choosing your wilderness campsite. The first step in planning your trip: decide where you want to camp and for how long. I suggest purchasing a Rocky Mountain National Park topographic map to choose a destination and route. Then, use the Wilderness Campsite Map and Wilderness Designated Site Details to select wilderness campsites. Remember to consider the abilities of the least experienced member of your party and the distance and elevation gain from the trailhead to your destination.

Elevation

Rocky Mountain National Park is a high elevation park. If you live at sea level, it will take you several days to become acclimated. Most trails begin above 8,000 feet and climb abruptly higher. If you are not acclimated, you can get acute mountain sickness. Rangers recommend spending at least one night at 7,000–8,000 feet prior to setting out. This will allow your body to begin to adjust to the elevation.

Weather and Clothing

When you visit or call the park, discuss your plans with a ranger. Find out if snow has melted from the trails and destinations where you hope to hike. Check the weather forecast before starting your trip. Mountain weather changes very quickly. Within just a few hours, bright sunny skies may give way to raging storms. High winds often occur in the high country. Wind chill accelerates the lowering of body temperature which can result in hypothermia.

Proper clothing is your first line of defense against cold. Plan to dress in layers so you can regulate your temperature by bundling up or peeling down. Be sure to pack rain and storm gear. Remember, you assume complete responsibility for your own safety and that of your group while hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Ranger-Led Evening Programs

All evening programs are free and open to the public and are held at several locations throughout the park during evening hours. Both the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center and Kawuneeche Visitor Center are in non-fee areas of the park.

East Side Locations:

Beaver Meadows Visitor Center Auditorium (Hwy 36) is located approximately three miles west of the town of Estes Park. Evening programs are held mid- May through mid-June and intermittently throughout the year.

Aspenglen Campground Amphitheater is located at the Fall River Entrance (Hwy 34) approximately 4 miles from downtown Estes Park. Evening programs will resume mid-June, 2019.

Glacier Basin Campground Amphitheater is located along Bear Lake Road approximately 8 miles from downtown Estes Park.Evening programs will resume mid-June, 2019.

Moraine Park Campground Amphitheater is located along Bear Lake Road approximately 5 miles from downtown Estes Park. Evening programs will resume mid-June, 2019.

West Side Locations:

Kawuneeche Visitor Center Auditorium is located approximately one mile north of the town of Grand Lake (Hwy 34). Evening programs are held on Saturday nights throughout the summer. Please stop at a the visitor center for more information on specific topics.

Timber Creek Campground Amphitheater is located in the Kawuneeche Valley (Hwy 34) approximately eight miles from the Grand Lake Entrance. Evening programs are held throughout the summer and into September. Please stop at a the Kawuneeche visitor center for more information on specific topics.

Kids Activities

Bear Lake - Rocky Mountain National Park

Kids are born naturalists. They access the natural world by asking questions, which sometimes come in bunches. Introducing children to the outdoors can begin at any time, but why not begin early? And why not start them out in Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the country’s premier outdoor wonderlands.

Infants can be carried in a front pack, which can be tucked inside the jacket if it’s chilly. Hike anywhere. Your kids will be enthralled by the stunning scenery and the fresh mountain air, so enthralled that he or she will fall asleep in short order.

When they reach the toddler stage, children begin to more actively interact with nature. It is a time of observation, of making initial connections and stockpiling notes. It is a wonderful time to introduce them to one of the many discovery trips found around the park. A few suggestions.
Explore the edges of Bear Lake while enjoying the guidebook-guided trail tour that explains the area’s natural and human history. Water holds an amazing variety of plant and animal life that will pique a child’s curiosity.

Discover Rocky Mountain’s amazing array of wildlife. At particular times during the summer (ask a park ranger), the bighorn sheep come down to Sheep Lakes. Kids especially enjoy watching them cross the road after the lambs are born. Find a ponderosa pine forest and watch for Abert’s squirrels. Their dark color and busy activities catch a toddler’s eye for contrast and movement.

Kids that are a bit older develop a more complex understanding of the world around them. While some children might enjoy expending energy hiking along a trail, most seem happiest thoroughly exploring a smaller area. On any hike with three to five year olds, it’s a good idea to include a magnifying glass in the backpack. Textures of trees, plants, bugs and rocks are exciting close-up.

In the early summer, enjoy the amazing floral colors found along the trail to Cub Lake. Have the youngsters keep an eye out for hummingbirds that may be visiting the flowers. Watch for beaver along the way in the Cub Creek drainage. Beaver dams are easy to spot in this area and stream banks are ideal places to look for animal tracks.

The park has a “Rocky’s Junior Ranger Program” for children in kindergarten through eighth grade. Emphasis is placed on park preservation, flora and fauna facts, and environmental education. When kids complete the Junior Ranger booklet, they earn a badge. Check at a visitor center for information.

These are but a few of the things you can do at Rocky Mountain National Park. Check with the park rangers when you arrive to see what activities are available, what wildlife might be easiest to see, or where the wildflowers are blooming.

I’ve created three posters for Rocky Mountain National Park — one that features a view of Moraine Park, one for Cub Lake, and one for the iconic Longs Peak.

Rocky Mountain National Park Moraine Park

Click here to see the Rocky Mountain National Park, Moraine Park poster.

Rocky Mountain Cub Lake

Click here to see the Rocky Mountain National Park, Cub Lake poster.

Rocky Mountain Longs Peak

Click here to see the Rocky Mountain National Park, Longs Peak poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!

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Best Things To Do In Grand Teton National Park

Grand Teton - Moonset

Known for its winding Snake River, miles of hiking trails, lakes and abundant wildlife, Grand Teton National Park is a perfect travel destination. Grand Teton National Park has something for everyone — like Jenny Lake, the Craig Thomas Discovery & Visitor Center, and historic settlements like Menors Ferry and Mormon Row. If you’re adventurous and enjoy climbing, hiking, wildlife watching and touring, or if you just want to take in some of the most spectacular scenery in the world — this is a perfect place for you.

I’m a photographer and outdoor enthusiast and have been to more than 40 of our amazing national parks — including Grand Teton. I’ve explored many areas of the park — so I’m ready to help! Whether this is your first time to Grand Teton, or if you are returning after many years and would like to be re-introduced to the park — this list of the best things to do is just for you!

Wildlife Viewing

Grand Teton - Moose

Grand Teton’s wildlife viewing regularly ranks among the best in the United States. Bears, bison, elk, pronghorns, eagles, and more are regularly seen in the park. Want to see bears? These places change regularly, so just ask at a visitor center or activity desk once you’re there. The Jackson Lake Lodge Activity Desk tracks the latest wildlife observations. Some of the best places are Willow Flats in front of the Jackson Lake Lodge, at Oxbow Bend or Elk Ranch Flats.

Take a Scenic Drive

Mormon Row

There are many places to take in the spectacular and epic views — and you can do it on Grand Teton National Park’s 42 Mile Scenic Loop Drive! If you’re short on time or wanting an easier way to see many of the diverse scenic landscapes of the park, then this might be a great way for you to see the park. The loop consists of Teton Park Road, Jenny Lake Scenic Drive and Route 89. On this route you can visit Jenny Lake, the Craig Thomas Visitor Center in Moose, Schwabacher’s Landing, Snake River Overlook, Cunningham’s Cabin, Oxbow Bend, Signal Mountain Summit Road and more. Get that engine going for the ride of a lifetime!

Go Fishing

Grand Teton - Oxbow Bend

Grand Teton National Park is world-renowned for it’s amazing fishing. Rivers, lakes and ponds sparkle on the landscape and you can fish for cutthroat trout (named for the red slash under the lower jaw), the Utah chub in warm, shallow, slow-moving water or the mountain whitefish, which prefers cold, deep, fast-moving water. Fishing is a great way to have fun while experiencing the park’s beauty. From Jenny Lake to the Snake River to Jackson Lake there are many opportunities for fishing — and you can choose between a guided fishing trips or solo adventures.

Hike the Grand Teton Trails

With more than 200 miles of trails for hiking, Grand Teton National Park provides the perfect opportunity for those who want to get out and experience the most beautiful lakes, towering peaks, and stunning scenery up close. Rugged landscapes and sudden weather changes sometimes can bring on unexpected challenges, but with them come amazing views! Grand Teton National Park hosts numerous trails for all kinds of hikers — beginners and experts alike. From easy, short hikes like Hidden Falls or Inspiration Point to more challenging ones like Death Canyon and Cascade Canyon — there’s a wide choice, but none will disappoint!

Enjoy Horseback Riding

Grand Teton - Horseback Riding

One of the best alternatives for hiking — and a unique way to soak up those breathtaking views — is to saddle up and spend an amazing morning or afternoon on horseback. Horseback riding is a great way to simply take it slow and let the joy and scenic views fill your soul. Horseback rides starting at Jackson Lake Lodge let you spend a morning or afternnon in the Grand Tetons — and enjoy the same view as the early explorers. The Jackson Lake Lodge offers one-hour and two-hour horseback riding with breathtaking views of the Teton Range, Oxbow Bend, and the Snake River.

Conquer the Mountains with Climbing

The famous Grand Teton mountain range has been luring countless visitors and climbers from all over the world for generations. The park presents opportunities to conquer these magnificent peaks — or just to learn more about the sport of rock climbing. While the experienced climbers are rubbing their hands together for an opportunity to reach the sky by climbing these iconic peaks, other groups like families, kids, and inexperienced climbers shouldn’t shy away from participating. Various guides and experienced climbers are here to offer guided climbs, classes and easy daily climbs!

Engage in Water Activities

Grand Teton - Jenny Lake

With all those enchanting lakes and beautiful rivers flowing through the park, most of these waterways of wilderness are accessible for travelers and visitors. One of the most popular, Jackson Lake, offers a stunning mountain backdrop and an excellent opportunity for those interested in sailing, water skiing, and even windsurfing. With dozens of lakes within the park and rivers like the Snake River, opportunities abound. From kayaking and canoeing, to paddle boarding, drift boats and raft tours, your water adventure awaits.

Grand Teton - Boating

You can also go on a Jackson Lake Cruise and enjoy delicious breakfast or dinner excursion. The Colter Bay Marina offers breakfast and dinner cruises to Elk Island — a unique and exclusive Grand Teton activity. There is a hot buffet on the island. Breakfast includes trout, pancakes, pastries, potatoes, eggs, fruit, cowboy coffee, yogurt and more. Dinner features steak and trout with a variety of sides. Enjoy your meal with Mount Moran rising over the lake. After your meal, take your time to explore the island and take a short hike.

Cycle The Grand Teton’s Roads

Grand Teton - Roads

Biking enjoys its fair share of popularity and fame in the park, especially when the multi-use pathway was introduced. For thrill seekers, dirt roads and bike trails such as Two Ocean Lake and Grassy Lake Road will be your escape and create an exciting mountain biking adventure. But road bikers, there’s plenty for you, too! Over 100 miles of paved roads — with an extensive bicycle pathway system — let bike lovers enjoy the views while comfortably riding below the breathtaking Grand Teton Range.

Now, that the best activities have been unveiled, it is safe to say that Grand Teton is simply heaven for outdoor recreation and wildlife discoveries. With its sheer size of more than 300,000 acres, let it become the playground that will give you the memories of a lifetime!

I’ve created two posters for Grand Teton National Park — one that features a view of the famed mountain range from the Snake River Overlook. The other is of Jenny Lake after a fall snowstorm.

Grand Teton National Park - Jenny Lake

Click here to see the Grand Teton National Park, Jenny Lake poster.

Grand Teton National Park

Click here to see the Grand Teton National Park, Snake River Overlook poster.

Rob Decker is a photographer and graphic artist who had the rare privilege of studying under Ansel Adams in Yosemite National Park when he was just 19 years old. Now, Rob is on a journey to explore and photograph all 61 of America’s National Parks. He’s creating WPA-style posters to help people celebrate their own national park adventures — as well as encourage others to get out and explore!

Share this with Friends, Family & Followers