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National Park Travel Tips

Whether you’re heading out for a Saturday night campout at your local park, or hitting the road for week-long family road trip, it pays to be prepared. Here are a few timeless tips and reminders to help you get there in comfort and confidence.

  • Pack smart. Have too much stuff to bring? Use a cargo box, bag, or basket on your roof top to get the gear out of the back seat. Freeing up room for more people in the seats makes it simple to car pool – and save money on gas. Yakima has an option for any car, even those without roof racks! Check them out here.
  • Think sustainable. Take reusable bottles for water instead of buying disposable plastic along the way. Pack a small bag to capture your food and drink wrappers to sort and deposit them later, rather than just tossing them into the garbage. This year, several of our parks, including Yosemite, Yellowstone, Denali, and Grand Teton, have a goal of going Zero-Landfill – let’s help them get there!
  • Buy local. See a farm stand or local coffee shop along your route? Stop in an savor the local flavors. Supporting small businesses is a fun way to get to know the communities around our parks.
  • Check the weather. Weather patterns are becoming increasingly unpredictable. Make sure you know what sort of conditions you’re heading into so you can plan for it.
  • Make lunch an adventure. Instead of just eating at a rest stop, or in the car, why not do a little exploring? Take a walk through a local park, or find a swimming hole and get a bit of exercise to break up the drive. OhRanger.com is a great resource to find sites around the country, and rootsrated.com offers an app download to let you search for local hot spots.
  • Get active. Packing a Frisbee, a couple of inflatable beach balls, a hacky sack or jump ropes for a little fun—and a great fitness break—at rest stops.
  • Bring a road atlas. Smartphones and GPS are great—when you have a signal. Packing a road atlas may seem old school, but you’ll stay on track if you lose or break your phone on the road.
  • Pack snacks. Skip the salty, greasy gas station snacks and pack some home-style healthy snacks in a cooler. Cheese and crackers, trail mix, fresh veggies and peanut butter, and fresh fruit like oranges and bananas are some of our favorites.
  • Plan a playlist. Download music, podcasts and other audio programs to your iPod or other media players for a steady mix of on-the-go entertainment.
  • Check the essentials. Before you hit the road, your vehicle’s wiper blades, oil and fluid levels, belt and hose connections, tire pressure, turn signals, horn and headlights should all be in optimal operating condition.
  • Keep a travel journal. You might want to share your adventure someday with the kids or grandkids, or be able to remember how you found that elusive turn onto the unmarked dirt road after the red barn and tractor sign.

You’ve got a long summer ahead of you. Make the most of it by getting out of doors and into one of our amazing national parks. And afterwards, let us know about it! Tag @YakimaRacks and #MyFreshAir on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter and show us where you went.