National park "hopping"

Travel Forums North America National park "hopping"

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1. Posted by VildeOddvik (First Time Poster 1 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!


I'm planning a 6 week trip to the USA in the summer of 2017, and I need some help!
I want to focus on wildlife and hiking in national parks, national forests and similar.

Any recommendations or ideas on routes? Or parks I should experience?
Since I'm planning on making it as cheap as possible, there must be some free/cheap campsites
or a hostel nearby.

What`s the cheapest and easiest way to "hop" between parks?

- Norwegian girl, 20

2. Posted by OldPro (Inactive 400 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

N. America is not travel friendly other than by car. Many parks are not even accessible by public transportation. Hostels are few and far between.

To keep your costs down, I would suggest concentrating your time in as small an area as possible. Divide the USA map into 4 quadrants and pick one of the four. There will be more than enough parks in any one of those quadrants to keep you busy for 6 weeks unless you consider 1 day in a park as sufficient.

For example, you could easily spend a week in say Joshua Tree hiking and rock climbing. There is no public transportation to the park, your best bet would be to hitchhike to the park from Palm Springs.

Entry for a week would cost you $10 if you walk in. Camping would cost you $15 per night on a 'dry' campsite and $20 per night in a campground where water is available. Without a car you would need a site with water available. So a week would cost you $150 in total. How does that sound in regards to your 'cheap' campsite idea?

Within 2 hours by car of that park is the Anza Borrego State Park where free camping is allowed. However, water is again the problem.

I've also just realized you are talking about next SUMMER. These desert parks are going to be too hot at that time of year. So another quadrant would be a better choice. But prices and issues will remain the same.

3. Posted by katzgar (Inactive 223 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

trail heads will be access by a car. there is free camping here is the NPS site

4. Posted by Peter (Admin 7250 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

While I do agree that travelling by car is by far the most convenient option in the US, it doesn't mean that there aren't some other possibilities. Check out Bundabus for example. They have a bus route that travels between SF, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and a bunch of other places in between. If you are then hiking when you arrive at the locations, then this is certainly something you could make work for you if you were committed enough.

You probably need to just decide on where you exactly want to go first and then look up all your transport options between these locations.

5. Posted by katzgar (Inactive 223 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

Fore most Parks buses are fine to get to the park but then you have to have something to get around in the park once you get there so yeah you do need a car

6. Posted by Peter (Admin 7250 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

There must be people using these kinds of bus services though right? What is their target market if it's not people going to National Parks?

I've only really been to the Grand Canyon and I could definitely imagine catching the bus in, staying near the lookout, hiking down the bottom. They have bike hire there as well to help expand your range.

YARTS caters to people travelling around Yosemite and according to their website something like 100,000 people use them per year, so it must be working for some intrepid travellers.

7. Posted by katzgar (Inactive 223 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

A lot of parks definitely have a Park Shuttle you're going to have to walk from wherever the Greyhound drops you off into the park it could be many miles also the shuttle is going to navigate a certain route in Park like Olympic National Park the shuttle isn't going to work there isn't a shuttle you're going to have to drive a car to the trailhead buses aren't going to work for national parks even though the national parks do have interior shuttles

8. Posted by katzgar (Inactive 223 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 18 miles wide I'll pass on the bike rental

9. Posted by Peter (Admin 7250 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

I guess it depends on how much flexibility you want and how in depth you want to go.

Personally I was happy enough with just visiting one part of the Grand Canyon and felt no great desire to cover 277 miles of it.

10. Posted by katzgar (Inactive 223 posts) 7y Star this if you like it!

true but the bottom line is buses dont get you to the parks. you will need a car.