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As avid outdoor enthusiasts, Dave and I love exploring awe-inspiring natural wonders like Zion National Park. Located in the Southwest of Utah, near the towns of Kanab, St. George, and Cedar City, visiting Zion National is a truly amazing experience that is not to be missed by anyone who loves the outdoors.

On your trip to Zion National Park will you see narrow sandstone canyons, high plateaus with spectacular views, and the Virgin River as it flows through the park.

If you’re planning a visit to Zion, then read our extensive Zion National Park guide. Filled with secret tips to help you plan the perfect Zion National Park vacation, this Zion planning guide includes:

  • Zion National Park basics
  • How to get to Zion
  • Things to do at Zion National Park
  • What to pack for a trip to Zion
  • Where to stay near Zion

We hope you can use our expert Zion National Park travel tips to make your first time to Zion National Park a truly memorable visit.

Visiting Zion National Park – The Basics Best Time to Visit Zion

While there isn’t a bad time to explore Zion, some seasons make visiting Zion National Park more enjoyable than others. You may want to avoid spring when the runoff can make some hiking trails impassable. During the summer you’ll need to battle the crowds and high temperatures, both of which can be unbearable. The best time for moderate temperatures and ideal hiking conditions is the fall, from September through November. We enjoy going in the winter when there are fewer crowds, but some trails may close immediately following a snow storm. 

Zion Operating Hours

Zion National Park is open to visitors twenty-four hours day, every day of the year. You will want to check the website because some services and facilities do close or reduce hours during parts of the year.

Entry Fees to Zion National Park

If you’re planning on visiting Zion National Park for the day, the park fee is $25 for four-wheel vehicles and $12 per person for motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

However, if you’re planning on visiting the park for more than a day, you can save money by purchasing a 7-day entrance pass for $25.

Plus, if you visit between April and October, you can also use the free shuttle buses that travel through Zion Canyon to help you get around.

BUDGET TRAVEL TIP: If you plan on visiting nearby Bryce Canyon or Capitol Reef, or any other US National Park during the year, we always recommend getting the US National Park pass. (Did you know when you buy the National Parks Pass from REI, they donate 10% to the National Park Foundation?)

Zion Weather

The weather at Zion National Park is incredibly varied. During the summer season, temperatures can rise to well over a 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Therefore, hikers should avoid hiking during the middle of the day and opt instead to visit the park either early in the morning or late in the evening.

During the winter, conditions in the park are often cold and wet, with highs between 50 and 60 degrees Fahrenheit and lows beneath freezing. And while roads are typically plowed daily, trails still may be closed due to treacherous snow and ice conditions. Pack the right cold weather gear so you can explore the park and still stay warm and dry.

The spring and fall seasons typically have the most moderate weather, with warm and sunny days during the months of April, May, September, and October. Temperature highs are typically between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, with occasional cold snaps and rainy days possible.

Also note that during the spring, water levels in the canyons can rise as a result of snow melt. Therefore, many hiking will be flooded and off limits to visitors.

That’s why, autumn is typically best time to visit Zion National Park. The days are clear, the nights are mild, and the water levels are low, making this the perfect time to hike through Zion National Park. You can also enjoy the fall colors as the leaves begin to change and reach their peak by the end of October.

Pet Regulations at Zion National Park

To protect other wildlife in the park, and ensure that other visitors enjoy their park visit, guests must keep their pets on leashes that are less than six feet long when on the Pa’rus Trail, which is the only trail open to pets.

Pets are also not allowed on shuttle buses, with the exception of designated service animals, or within Zion National Park public buildings. All pet waste must also be picked up immediately and disposed of in proper trash receptacles.

Since temperatures in Zion National Park can quickly rise to dangerous levels, leaving a pet in a vehicle, unattended, is strictly prohibited when elevated temperatures can damage the animal’s health.

However, pets are permitted along public roads and in parking areas, as well as on campgrounds, in picnic areas, and on the grounds of Zion Lodge. Within the park’s campgrounds, pets also may be left unattended given that environmental conditions are safe and the animal is not making an excessive amount of noise.

Zion National Park Services

Although plastic water bottles are not sold in the park, reusable water bottles are available for purchase at the gift shops in the Visitor Center, Park Museum, at Zion Lodge and at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center.

Water filling stations can be also found at shuttle stop one near the visitor center, at shuttle stop two near the Zion Human History Museum, at shuttle stop five near Zion Lodge, at shuttle stop six near the Grotto, at shuttle stop nine near the Temple of Sinawava, and at the Kolob Canyons Visitor Center.

Free WIFI can also be found within Zion Canyon Visitor Center and at the Human History Museum.

Zion Lodge is home to the Red Rock Grill Dining Room, which is open year round, as well as the Castle Dome Cafe, which is open seasonally.

And while there are no grocery stores, gas stations, or medical facilities within the park itself, all such services can be found within the nearby town of Springdale.

Zion National Park Map

Click here to find more printable maps, a hiking guide, and a shuttle map.

AMAZON: Zion National Park Maps and Travel Guides
Parking at Zion National Park

Visitors can park only in designated parking spaces and should avoid parking along roadways, on vegetation, and in a way that blocks traffic. If a parking lot is full, do not wait for a spot to open up. Instead, move on and look for parking elsewhere. Anyone who fails to park in designated spots will be subject to a fine and may have their vehicle towed.

Between February and late November, parking lots are usually full by 8 or 9 am. When this happens you should park in Springdale, just outside the park entrance. Use the free shuttle that takes you to Zion. Be aware though that you must pay for parking in Springdale and that a park entrance pass does not include town parking, and vice versa.

The park’s seasonal shuttle system begins operations during the weekends starting mid-February. Around the first part of March, the shuttle runs daily between Zion Canyon and the town of Springdale. While the shuttle is in operation, no vehicles are permitted on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The shuttle also runs during the Christmas holiday so check the website if you’ll be visiting Zion during that time.

Throughout the high season, buses run from the early morning and into the late evening, with departures about every seven minutes. There are two separate shuttle routes that guests can take when visiting Zion National Park. The Zion Canyon Shuttle connects the Zion Canyon Visitor Center to nine different stops along the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. The Springdale Shuttle has nine stops in the town of Springdale and will take you to the pedestrian entrance near the Zion Canyon Visitor Center.

When the shuttle service is not in use, Zion National Park can still experience overcrowding. When this happens, the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive will close to the public once all parking lots are full. Therefore, be prepared and make alternative arrangements if you’re planning a Zion National Park itinerary between December and February.

Take the Zion Pledge

The Zion National Park Pledge is a way for you to help protect yourself and the park. If you love the outdoors like we do, please share your #ZionPledge story on social media to bring awareness of doing our part to Leave No Trace. We urge everyone to be responsible national park guests by planning ahead, traveling and camping only on durable surfaces, disposing of waste properly, minimizing campfire impact, leaving what you find where you find it, respecting wildlife, and being considerate of other visitors.

Flash Floods at Zion National Park

If you’ll be hiking in Zion National Park, you need to be educated about flash flooding, which is a sudden rise in the depth and speed of rivers, streams, and washes. Typically, flash floods are the result of heavy rains, which can uplift and carry heavy debris, like tree trunks and large boulders, down river. 

While infrequent, flash floods are unpredictable, can occur under sunny skies, and are most dangerous within slot canyons. There have been recent deaths in the park due to flash floods. It’s usually the result of blunt force trauma, since there is no way to outrun a flash flood.

To ensure your safety while hiking through Zion National Park, check the weather forecast, stop by the visitor center for up to date weather information, be aware of changing weather and associated cloud build up, heed park warnings, avoid areas that are susceptible to flooding, create a plan in case you do encounter a flash flood, and leave an itinerary with a park employee so that they can alert officials if you do go missing.

If you do encounter a flash flood, react quickly and immediately get to the safety of higher ground. Whatever you do though, do not attempt to enter the water. Instead, wait until the flood passes because believe it or not, just six inches of water can cause you to lose balance.

GETTING TO ZION NATIONAL PARK

From Las Vegas, Nevada take I-15 north until you reach Exit 16 in Utah for State Hwy 9 toward Hurricane/Zion National Park. The drive should take 2 hours and 30 minutes and cover 262 miles.

From Salt Lake City, Utah take I-15 south then take exit 27 for UT-17 toward Toquerville/Hurricane. Turn left onto UT-9 which takes you to Zion National Park. The whole journey should take 4 hours and 30 minutes and cover 308 miles.

 

THINGS TO DO AT ZION NATIONAL PARK Zion National Park Points of Interest

Arguably one of the most beautiful parks in the entire United States national park system, Zion National Park is brimming with exquisite natural wonders that are just waiting to be discovered. Between the towering red rocks, the majestic Virgin River, the labyrinth of intricate canyons, and the sea of picturesque evergreens, there are no shortage of things to do in Zion National Park.

Therefore, to help you create the perfect Zion National Park itinerary, listed below are all of the top attractions that you could see, do or photograph during your trip to Zion National Park.

The Narrows – One of the most iconic hikes in the park, this trek takes you through some of the steep canyons that the Virgin River snakes through. Before exploring the Narrows, be sure to bring the proper gear since much of this 10 mile hike involves wading through the Virgin River.

Angel’s Landing – Not for young children, or anyone who is afraid of heights, this strenuous 5.4 mile hike will have you slinking along narrow rock ledges and scrambling up steep hills with sharp drop offs on either side. Weave up the mountain, along the trail’s many switchbacks, and you’ll be rewarded with some fantastic views from the summit.

Emerald Pool Trail – Enjoy a nice, leisurely, hour long hike to the Lower Emerald Pool. You can also continue on, towards the Upper Emerald Pool and the Kayenta Trails, and enjoy some lovely views of a lush landscape that is dotted with enchanting waterfalls.

Canyon Overlook Trail – An easy one mile hike through the park. Arrive early since the parking lot fills up fast. We think this is a wonderful spot to enjoy the sunrise.

Driving the Zion-Mt. Carmel Scenic Highway – Starting from the Mount Carmel side of Route 9, this 12 mile drive will have you winding through stunning red sandstone formations, with seas of evergreen peeking through, that are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. Along the way, be sure to stop at Checkerboard Mesa and marvel at this enormous, gray rock that is adorned with a perfect checkerboard pattern. This stretch of road is a good place to see bighorn sheep too!

The Riverside Walk – Get off at the Sinawava shuttle stop and enjoy an easy 2.2 mile walk along the Virgin River. Take time to enjoy the fantastic mountain views as you peacefully stroll along the trail.

Weeping Rock – The slow drip of water through this rock formation creates picturesque hanging gardens that are strewn along the entire rock face.

Hiking Trails at Zion

Visitors to Zion National Park have so many hiking trail options that it may be hard to choose. There are trails in Zion Canyon, Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace.

Zion Canyon is by far the most popular hiking spot, and includes trails that are great for beginner, intermediate, and advanced level hikers. You will also find many trails are perfect for hiking with kids in Zion.

However, if you want get away from the crowds in the park, Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace have some fantastic hiking trails to explore. Wilderness permits are required for some trails in these more remote areas so do your research.

Zion Canyon EASY hiking trails:

Zion Canyon MODERATE hiking trails:

Zion Canyon STRENUOUS hiking trails:

Kolob Canyon hiking trails:

Kolob Terrace hiking trails:

Zion National Park Backpacking

With 90 miles of trails, 3 designated camping ares, and an assortment of backpacking sites to choose from, Zion National Park is the perfect destination for anyone interested in backpacking.

However, prior planning is an essential part of any successful backpacking trip. That’s why you should first consider the ability level of your group, as well as how much time you have to complete the hike, before you depart into the wilderness.

If you do plan an overnight backpacking trip, you must procure a permit to do so. Permits can be obtained up to three months in advance, or at either of the park’s visitor..

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Dave and I absolutely love visiting and photographing Arches National Park every chance we get. 

Arches is a few miles north of the fun outdoor adventure town of Moab, Utah. This national park is filled with amazing hiking trails that weave through a land of contrasting colors, awe-inspiring sunsets, and exquisite landforms.

We have visited Arches many times and never tire of seeing the natural rock formations that include 2,000 stone archways, giant balanced rocks, and massive pinnacles that immediately draw you in to explore and photograph.

If you plan on visiting Arches, and are in need of information about the park from local experts, then this ultimate Arches National Park Guide is for you.

  • Arches National park facts
  • What to pack for Arches National Park
  • Where to stay near Arches National park
  • Our favorite Arches National Park camping spots
  • Arches National Park photography tips

ESSENTIAL ARCHES NATIONAL PARK FACTS Best time to visit Arches National Park

Seasonally, the best time to visit Arches National Park is during the winter off-season, between November and February. Not only will you avoid the intense heat, but you can enjoy some spectacular winter scenery, without the crowds and traffic that can make visiting during the high-season a bit daunting.

Arches Hours of Operation

Arches National Park is open 24 hours a day. However, we recommend avoiding the crowds and arriving either before 8 am or after 3 pm. Plus, hiking will also be a bit easier since the temperatures are much cooler. The light at this time of day is also better for photography anyway.

Entry fees to Arches National Park

To enter Arches National Park, you must pay a $30 vehicle fee, a $25 motorcycle fee, or a $15 per person fee, all which are valid for an entire week. (Children 15 and under can enter the park for free).

BUDGET TRAVEL TIP: However, if you plan on visiting nearby Canyonlands National Park Island in the Sky or the Canyonlands Needles District, or any other US National Park during the year, you may want to consider purchasing the US National Park Pass – it will definitely help you save money. (Did you know when you buy the National Parks Pass from REI, they donate 10% to the National Park Foundation?)

Arches Weather

Since Arches is part of the Colorado Plateau high desert region; this area will experience enormous temperature variations by as much as 40 degrees in twenty-four hours. That’s why, in terms of Arches National Park weather, the most temperate and popular seasons at the park are in spring, between April and May, and in fall, between September and October.

During the mild spring and fall seasons, daytime temperatures average highs of between 60 to 80 degrees F and lows of between 30 to 50 degrees F. During the scorching summers, temperatures can exceed 100 degrees F, while temperatures during the winter are generally between 30 and 50 degrees F, with lows between 0 and 20 degrees F.

Pet Regulations at Arches National Park

Pets are allowed within the National Park, but must be leashed at all times. Pets must also never be left unattended and owners are required to pick up after their pets.

Additionally, pets are welcome on all park roads, parking areas, picnic areas, and in the Devils Garden campground. However, pets are not allowed at overlooks, on or off hiking trails, and in the visitor center.

Arches National Park Services

Be prepared for limited services when visiting Arches National Park. There are no medical facilities, wifi services, gas stations, dump sites, cell phone towers, or dining options on the park.

However, water is available year round at the visitor center, Devils Garden campground, and seasonally, at the Devils Garden trailhead.

Remember though, the city of Moab is just a few miles down the road from the visitor center and has an assortment of facilities that you can enjoy.

Additionally, you are permitted to camp at the Devils Garden Campground and picnic at Devils Garden, Delicate Arch Viewpoint, Arches Visitor Center, and across the road from Balanced Rock.

Arches National Park Map

You can find a printable map, trail guide, and other trip planning information in the Arches National Park Newspaper.

AMAZON: Arches National Park Map by National Geographic
Parking at Arches National Park

Some of the most popular parking lots in the park include The Windows, Delicate Arch, and Devils’ Garden, all of which fill up between 9 am and 4 pm. If you plan to visit these areas, we suggest getting there early morning or late afternoon.

When parking lots are full, remember that you can only park in designated areas and are not permitted to drive off road. If no spots are available, do not wait around and block traffic. Instead, move on and try to find a parking spot elsewhere.

Busiest Dates at Arches National Park

Between March and October, the park’s many roads, hiking trails, and parking lots are all typically filled to capacity, with holidays like Easter week/Jeep safari and spring break (late March or April), Memorial Day, Labor Day, and fall break (usually mid-October) being exceptionally busy.

We recommend you visit during the off-season, in the winter, to avoid traffic jams and large crowds. 

We took this video in April leaving the park around 11:00 am. When we say enter the park early, this is why!

GETTING TO ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

From Grand Junction, Colorado, take I-70 west and follow the highway until Thompson Springs. Take exit 182 and follow US-191 south towards Moab. Continue along US-191 until you see Arches National Park Entrance Road on your left. The whole journey should take an hour and 40 minutes and cover 109 miles.

From Salt Lake City, Utah, take I-15 south until exit 257 B-A for US-6 East. Continue on US-6 East and merge onto I-70 East. Take exit 182 onto US-191 south towards Moab. Turn left onto the Arches Entrance Road. The entire journey should take three and a half hours and cover 230 miles.

TOP THINGS TO DO AT ARCHES NATIONAL PARK

With so many exciting things to see and do, it’s a good idea to start your visit at the Arches National Park visitor center (open everyday except Christmas). Tell the on-duty ranger what activities you are interested in doing at Arches. The rangers can give you tips for the best hiking routes and how to stay safe in the high altitude desert environment.  

While you’re at the visitor center, fill up your water bottle and learn about the distinct geology, history and flora and fauna that inhabit this amazing park.

There is a saying at Arches National Park: Don’t Bust the Crust! It’s Alive!

Help protect the cryptobiotic soil crust in the park since plants and animals depend on it. While exploring Arches National Park and other desert environments, stay on established trails, or walk in dry washes or on bare rock.

We share Arches travel and photography tips in this video. SUBSCRIBE to our channel to receive notifications when we post future videos!

Arches National Park Travel and Photography TIPS - YouTube

Ranger-led Programs at Arches

Rangers lead group programs are offered everyday, throughout the park, during Spring, Summer, and Fall. Programs offered include short interactive programs (5 – 15 minutes), evening programs at the Devils Garden Campground amphitheater (45 – 60 minutes), Fiery Furnace hikes (physically strenuous), and other special events.  

Arches National Park Points of Interest

Once you’ve explored the visitor center, drive up the switchback road into Arches. We’re listing the points of interest in order as you drive along the scenic park road.

Moab Fault – wonderful view of US 191 carving its way through the canyon below.

Park Avenue – walk 100 yards to the viewpoint, or hike the trail to understand how this area got the name Park Avenue, where immense sandstone walls tower on both sides as you walk along the path.

La Sal Mountain Viewpoint – magnificent distant views of the La Sal Mountains, Courthouse Towers, Balanced Rock and The Windows area.

Courthouse Towers Viewpoint –  massive monoliths like The Organ, Tower of Babel, Three Gossips and Sheep Rock.

Petrified Dunes Viewpoint – expanse area of ancient sand dunes covered by layers of sediment that have cemented into Navajo sandstone.

Balanced Rock – explore one of the most iconic landmarks in the entire park, Balanced Rock. Standing at 128 feet tall, this amazing geological formation is a great place for a short hike where you can savor views of The Windows Section and the La Sal Mountains. This is also a great place to end your day and catch the sunset since the rock becomes saturated with beautiful  red-orange colors.

Garden of Eden – open trail to explore the sandstone features. It’s a popular location for climbers to tackle the towering rocks here.

The Windows Section – visit this area first thing in the morning or you may not get a parking spot. No trip to Arches National Park would be complete without exploring The Windows Section that includes the Spectacles, Turret Arch and Double Arch.

Panorama Point – good view of lower Salt Valley.

Cache Valley Overlook – wonderful view of Cache Valley.

Lower and Upper Delicate Arch Viewpoints – see one of the most recognizable geologic formations in the world. Delicate Arch has an opening that is 46 feet high and 32 feet wide. To view this amazing place from a distance of a mile, you can drive to Lower Delicate Arch Viewpoint or hike the trail to the Upper Viewpoint, which is less obstructed.  

Delicate Arch and Wolf Ranch – hike the moderately difficult trail (3 miles round trip) to the base of the arch. The area has a cabin built by John Wesley Wolfe in the early 1900s and a petroglyph panel.

Salt Valley Overlook – enjoy the grand vista of the lower Salt Valley.

Fiery Furnace Viewpoint – view this labyrinth of stone fins from above at the overlook or join a ranger guided tour to explore the trails within.

Sand Dune Arch and Broken Arch – hike the short and easy trail through a narrow opening between fins with deep sand to reach Sand Dune Arch. Broken Arch is farther down the trail across the open, sandy grassland.  

Tower Arch – drive this dirt road to Tower Arch ONLY if you have a high clearance four wheel drive vehicle. Check with a ranger at the visitor center for road conditions.

Skyline Arch – take the time to walk the trail to see this arch up close, and not just from the road.

Devils Garden – find an incredible diversity of arches, spires and narrow rock walls as you walk along the Devil’s Garden trail. One of the most beautiful formations here is Landscape Arch. It is the longest arch in North America and is an impressive, 306 feet long.

Hiking Trails at Arches National Park

Arches National Park is full of amazing trails that are perfect for hikers of every level. From expert hikers to casual hikers to families with children, there are some fantastic Arches National Park hikes that you can take to enjoy the park’s beautiful landscape.

Easy Trails and Viewpoints at Arches:
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Looking for the perfect gift for someone who enjoys travel and/or photography?

Do you have anyone on your list (or you!) that loves an outdoor adventure and travel photography?

Through the years we have tried and tested various travel and photography items, and have determined the gear that works best for us. Our travel style is usually a road trip to enjoy and photograph nature and the great outdoors.

We’ve put together this Travel and Photography Gift Guide with our favorite gear for outdoor adventure.

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links,
we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy. TRAVEL & PHOTOGRAPHY GIFT GUIDE
  • Gifts for Travel
  • Travel Photography Gifts
  • Gifts for Road Trips
  • Gifts for Hiking
  • National Park Gifts
GIFTS FOR TRAVEL Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are amazing! We were hesitant to join in the packing cubes trend, but once we used them, we were immediately hooked. Packing cubes make great gifts for anyone who likes to travel. They keep everything organized and really do save space when packing your backpack, travel bag or suitcase. We have 2 sets of the Travelwise packing cubes – a different color for each of us!

Buff Headwear

We never venture outside without our Buff headwear to protect us from the weather and insects. The headbands can be worn 12 different ways and they dry quickly and wick away moisture. I use it as a headband to keep hair out of my face or cover my ears or neck. Dave likes to make his into a cap for his head and another one to wear around his neck. A Buff headband is a terrific gift for anyone who likes outdoor adventure. We also love the fleece lined Buff headwear for cold weather adventures!

Reusable Water Bottle

        

A reusable water bottle is the best practical gift for anyone who travels. Staying hydrated is so important while traveling. We use our refillable water bottles to avoid buying single-use plastic water bottles. Collapsible water bottles are nice to save space and avoid carrying something bulky. The Contigo metal bottles are a good choice if space is not an issue and you want to keep the water cold all day.

MORE travel gift ideas from seasoned travelers

Travel Gift Ideas at Amazon
Travel Insurance

Travel insurance may seem like an odd gift, but it’s so important that we felt it should be included in this list. You may not consider giving this to anyone, but we hope this at least helps YOU. We recommend travel insurance if: 1. you are concerned about losing money due to canceled trips, interrupted trips, lost bags, delayed trips, or medical expenses; 2. you are leaving your home country where your insurance from home won’t cover you for accidents.

We use World Nomads travel insurance, but research the various companies to find the one that works best for your travel needs.

Read the stories of 10 seasoned travelers and why they recommend you purchase travel insurance.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY GIFTS Compact Travel Cameras

        

Do you know someone (or YOU) who enjoys travel photography? A travel camera is the perfect gift for the person who likes to take pictures as they travel to capture memories as treasured souvenirs to share with family and friends. A good travel camera should produce quality photos and be easy to carry. We wrote a buyer’s guide to help you find the perfect compact camera for the traveler on your list.

Lightweight Travel Tripods

          

A sturdy tripod is the one thing that can dramatically improve your photos. Really! A lightweight, compact tripod is a wonderful gift for anyone who likes taking photos while hiking and exploring the outdoors. Use our buyer’s guide to help you find a portable tripod to suit the travel and photography needs of those on your gift lift! We love our MeFoto Globetrotter Carbon Fiber tripod.

Camera Bags and Backpacks

     

A good camera bag or backpack is perfect for anyone who enjoys travel photography. The bag should be comfortable and equipped with pockets and organizing sections. We need our backpacks to “carry a camera and some other stuff” like a water bottle, jacket, etc. Our three favorite backpacks are made by Peak DesignDakineLowePro. They are built to take the wear and tear of outdoor and hiking adventures.

Camera Accessories

     

One of the best practical gifts you can give a photographer is a camera cleaning kit. Anyone who travels and takes photos outside (with a camera or phone) will need to remove dust or water from the lens at times. It’s no fun to come home from a vacation to see dark spots on your photos because the lens was dirty! We travel with a cleaning kit and also carry extra microfiber lens cloths in our pocket as we hike. There are many other camera accessories you can give to the photographer on your gift list.

 BUY ON AMAZON: Travel Cameras | Travel Tripods | Accessories | Camera Bags
Photo Editing Software

A subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud is one of those ‘wow’ photography gifts. The recipient can easily edit, organize, store and share photos from anywhere because they’re backed up on the cloud. Edits can be done on mobile devices, the web or desktop. If you’ve got a serious photographer on your gift list, we recommend the Adobe Creative Cloud Photography Plan! We share 5 tips to use Lightroom to improve your photos.

Professional Photo Editing Service

Or give the gift of “done-for-you” photo editing. We are professional photo editors with experience and skills necessary to bring your photos to life! If you know a traveler or photographer on your list that doesn’t have time to edit photos, but wants to showcase high quality images, we can help! Learn more about our professional photo editing service.

GIFTS FOR ROAD TRIPS Plug In Cooler

       

A plug in car cooler is the perfect gift for anyone your list that enjoys road trips. The car cooler eliminates the need for costly stops for drinks and snacks. We use the Koolatron coolers for a few reasons. It uses technology even more sophisticated than a home refrigerator to keep things at a consistent cool temperature. It can assume a vertical or horizontal position to accommodate your car. Use the AC Adapter to plug in your hotel room as a second fridge (you do have to purchase the adapter separately). A plug in car cooler should be at the top of your gift list for anyone that likes road trips. Add some healthy road trip snacks as a fun addition to the cooler gift!

Portable Charger

A road trip usually means listening to music, books, podcasts, etc. A portable charger is a terrific travel gift to bring electronics devices back to life while on the road. Simply charge it at night, then use it during the day when you need a quick boost. We always use Anker portable chargers because they are fast and provide the best long-lasting, portable power we’ve found!

Traveler Road Kits

         

There should be a car emergency kit and a car first aid kit packed for any road trip. Emergency and first aid kits are practical gifts for any traveler on your list. Hopefully they’ll never need to use them, but if they do, they will be prepared for an automobile breakdown or personal injury that may occur on their road trip.

Picnic Blanket

A fun gift item for anyone who likes road trip adventures is a waterproof picnic blanket. It’s useful for pit stops since it has a waterproof bottom to lay on the grass. The soft top can be used as a blanket when it gets chilly in the car. Be sure to find one that’s washable.

READ MORE: Family Road Trip Items to Pack

Road Trip Gift Ideas at Amazon | Healthy Road Trip Snacks at Amazon
GIFTS FOR HIKING Hiking Shoes & Boots

     

After rolling my ankle while hiking, I learned the hard way the importance of a good pair of hiking shoes. The result of me only wearing sneakers on that ‘easy trail’ was a small fracture and torn ligaments…. with weeks of recovery and physical therapy. I will always wear my Merrell Moab hiking boots from now on! Hiking shoes make a terrific gift for anyone who likes to walk or hike along trails to explore the outdoors.

Darn Tough Socks

Seriously, Darn Tough socks are the BEST for hiking. They are comfortable, durable (with an unconditional lifetime guarantee) and let your feet breathe. Darn Tough socks are worth every penny! If you have anyone on your list that likes to hike, these socks are the perfect gift. Their feet will thank you!

Hydration Pack

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Some of my favorite memories are from visiting national parks – both growing up, and with my own kids. Every National Park in the US has something unique for kids to see, do and learn.

A family vacation becomes an adventure when you visit a national park!

To help you plan a fantastic national park vacation with kids, I’m sharing my tips and the programs available so you can make the most of your time at the park.

In addition, we asked some traveling families to share tips for visiting their favorite US National Park with kids.

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy. TIPS TO PLAN A US NATIONAL PARK VACATION WITH KIDS Research the Park

Many US national parks have gas stations, restaurants, stores, luxury lodging, and are easily accessible. Others are more remote and only have basic services (restrooms and water) at the entrance to the park.

When you travel to a national park with kids, you must research the park amenities so you can plan and pack, not only for the trip, but for the time spent in the park.

• Do you know where all the restrooms are in the park?
• Are there places to refill water bottles in the park?
• Do you need to pack food and snacks for your time in the park?
• What will the weather be during your stay at the park?

Be Prepared

Packing the right clothing and gear, and being prepared for various circumstances that may happen, can make or break a national park vacation with kids.

We created National Park Packing Lists that are pretty comprehensive. You may not need every item, so modify the list based on the activities you do and the time of year you visit.

If you plan to do any day hikes, refer to our hiking gear list and tips for day hikes with kids to make sure you have all the essentials packed and ready.

PACKING ITEM #1 should always be The America the Beautiful Annual Pass!

BUY THE NATIONAL PARK PASS AT REI and they will donate 10% of sales to the National Park Foundation.

Every Kid in a Park Pass: Did you know fourth graders in the US can get in free to any national park or recreation area that charges an entrance fee? The Every Kid in a Park program is available for kids in fourth grade, through the following August. Just fill out a short questionnaire and print out the form. Then exchange the form for your pass at any place National Parks annual passes are sold. It’s the perfect excuse to visit at least one national park that year with your kids!

Follow Their Interests

Beyond hiking and sightseeing, kids can enjoy a variety of national park activities to satisfy almost any interest.

Fishing, historic villages, cannons, sand dunes, old forts, animals, ruins, and more. We took a trip to Dinosaur National Monument, following the interest of our then-four-year-old, and it was a huge success!

Junior Rangers Program

The Junior Rangers Program is one of the best ways for kids to learn about the national parks. Children ages 5-13 can pick up a booklet at a park visitor’s center to see the activity requirements for that park.

Once the booklet is completed, a park ranger will swear your child in as an official Junior Ranger, and they will receive a sticker, badge, or patch. The Junior Ranger program is one of the best activities you can do when visiting a national park with kids.

Kid-Friendly Programs and Activities

Check each national park’s website to see if they offer special “for kids” programs and activities. Many locations have kid-oriented nature walks, programs, classes and more.

Also, be mindful of activities that may prove difficult for kids’ attention span – long tours, bus rides, lectures, or difficult hikes. You don’t want to plan a 2 hour cave tour with a toddler who can’t sit still!

Passport to Your National Parks

If you plan to visit a few national parks, there is a fun souvenir you can get called the Passport to Your National Parks (regular or junior editions). After purchasing the passport, you can add a stamp or sticker from each location you visit for free. The passport doesn’t take up a lot of space, and it’s fun to keep all the memories together.

Other fun national park themed books for kids

    

Junior Ranger Activity Book

National Geographic Kids Funny Fill-In: My National Parks Adventure

National Park themed games

         

National Parks Opoly Jr

National Parks Matching Game

National Parks Jenga

15 FUN NATIONAL PARKS TO VISIT WITH KIDS

Thank you to the families who shared their tips about visiting these 15 US national parks with kids.

These tips will help you plan your next national park family vacation!

(The parks are listed in alphabetical order.)

1. Acadia National Park With Kids

Acadia National Park is a fantastic natural area to visit with kids. There are numerous easy hikes suitable for all ages. Families will enjoy hiking through spruce forests, rock scrambling among oceanfront granite rocks and meandering through ponds and lakes. Many hiking trails involve gentle walking paths, tidepools, and provide scenic overlooks.

TIP: We made a list of family-friendly hikes in Acadia National Park. Our favorites are Ocean Path, Bubble Rock and Bar Island Trail.

For the more adventurous there are longer hikes that involve mountainside climbing and steep inclines such as Beehive, Gorham Mountain, and Precipice Trail.

Due to Acadia’s location in the northeastern corner of Maine, it is not the easiest to get to. However, it more than makes up for it due to its’ natural beauty and rugged coastline. Although summer is the busiest time of the year in Acadia, it does not draw massive crowds like other more popular national parks. I highly recommend a visit to Acadia National Park if you are visiting the northeast with your family.

Contribution and photo by DQ Family Travel

TRIP ADVISOR: Places to Stay & Things to Do near Acadia National Park 2. Arches National Park With Kids

There is more to see at Arches National Park than the 2,000+ natural arches. You can also see balancing rocks, stone fins, windows, petroglyphs and more! There are many hiking trails in Arches, but there are a few places in the park that are suited for kids.

You aren’t allowed to walk on the arches in the park, but the Windows area is a short loop trail that allows you to scramble around the rock formations in the area. It’s perfect for kids with energy!

Don’t forget to visit the Double Arch across from the Windows. Be sure to watch your kids here since it’s a steep climb to the arch opening. We recommend you visit this area first, or you may not get a parking spot!

TIP: The one place you can’t miss when visiting Arches National Park with kids is Sand Dune Arch. You walk through fins to a hidden arch surrounded by sand. This area is fun when it’s shaded and the sand is cool.

There are so many other things to see and do in Arches, as well as exploring nearby Canyonlands National Park

Contribution and photo by Photo Jeepers

TRIP ADVISOR: Places to Stay & Things to Do near Arches National Park 3. Big Bend National Park With Kids

With its remote location in southern Texas, Big Bend National Park certainly isn’t one of the most visited parks. However, our time in Big Bend far exceeded our expectations, and we can assure you it IS worth the long drive!

Big Bend offers visitors spectacular vistas, hundreds of miles of hiking trails and roads for exploring, the mighty Rio Grande River for float trips and some of the darkest night skies in the lower 48.

Our family’s favorite area of the park was the Chisos Basin, located in the heart of Big Bend. The uphill drive into the basin area yields a dramatic shift from desert landscape to forest. The basin supports an entirely different ecosystem than the rest of the park. For an excellent spot from which to watch the sunset (or take in the beautiful basin view), take the short, paved Window View Trail. Some of our favorite longer trails in the park can also be found in this area. If you only have time for one hike in Big Bend, all five of us agree that it should be the Lost Mine Trail!

Another must-do is travelling to the west side of the park on Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive. Take in the views from the many overlooks and be sure to visit the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. This relatively easy hike starts where the Terlingua Creek and the Rio Grande River meet. Kids won’t be able resist playing by the water’s edge, and everyone will be wowed by this trail which includes towering canyon walls.

TIP: Due to its remote location, be sure to book lodging far in advance (we highly recommend the Chisos Mountain Lodge or one of the campgrounds).

Interested in reading more about visiting this amazing park? Check out 5 Reasons Why You’ll Fall in Love with Big Bend National Park.

Contribution and photo by Just Go Travel Studios

TRIP ADVISOR: Places to Stay & Things to Do near Big Bend National Park 4. Bryce Canyon National Park With Kids

We took a road trip with kids through the American West, we were blown away by the unique scenery of Bryce Canyon National Park.

We love that there are so many scenic viewpoints at Bryce Canyon that families can access without hiking, as well as great trails to tackle like Queens Garden/Navajo Loop for adventurous families like ours! Though the trail is steep on both ends, it’s worth it to get down amidst the bright orange hoodoos.

Since we are homeschooling our kids, our whole family really loved the extremely well-done Junior Ranger program there – it did a great job explaining the complex geologic processes in a way that even our young kids could understand.

TIP: Even better, the add-on “I Hiked the Hoodoos” was a great incentive to keep the whole family walking and exploring through a long day in the park.

Contribution and photo by The Family Voyage

TRIP ADVISOR: Places to Stay & Things to Do near Bryce Canyon National Park 5. Glacier National Park With Kids

Glacier National Park, also known as the “Crown of the Continent”, is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream. This spectacular region in northwest Montana offers alpine glaciers, high mountain peaks, an abundance of wildlife, waterfalls, alpine meadows and so much more!

Family friendly activities can be found throughout the park. Our favorite is most definitely hiking! With over 700 miles of trails to explore, Glacier National Park has something for hikers of every ability.

If you’re looking for an easy, family-friendly hike, try Trail of the Cedars. This loop, which winds through an ancient forest, is part boardwalk (wheelchair and stroller accessible) and part dirt. A footbridge that crosses Avalanche Creek provides a beautiful view of the lower Avalanche Gorge.

Looking for something a little longer for older children? The 2.8-mile round trip Hidden Lake Overlook hike is a must-do. The hike is very popular for good reason—the views are stunning, AND the area is frequented by mountain goats and bighorn sheep!

Worn out from all the amazing hiking or just prefer to be lakeside? Spend an afternoon at one of Glacier National Park’s many lakes. Canoes and kayaks can be rented at Apgar, Two Medicine and Many Glacier and provide an excellent way to see the lake from a different perspective. Additionally, Glacier Park Boat Company gives tours on five lakes in the park.

Above all, Glacier..

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Did you know Amazon has Best Seller Lists?

Amazon is the first place I go to look for travel gear, cameras and more. BUT searching through the millions of products on Amazon can be overwhelming! And don’t even get me started on how long I spend looking for that perfect item by comparing prices and reading reviews.

Then I found Amazon Best Seller pages! They are dynamically changed each hour by Amazon so the lists are always up-to-date.

The Best Seller lists are sorted by category and sub-categories which makes it easy to find the product I’m looking for. It’s so nice to have a SHORT list of best-seller items other people have purchased and reviewed so I can then find the one that’s best for me. 

Guess what!? I’m going to make it even easier for you to find the Amazon Best Sellers for travel and photography! I’ve created a link to a ton of travel and photography Best Seller categories and items on Amazon. Simply find the item you’re looking for below, click the link and shop away!

If you hate waiting for things like I do, be sure you have Amazon Prime so your items arrive in a few short days!

All of these links to Amazon are affiliate links, meaning if you buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy. Amazon Best Sellers: Amazon Devices and Accessories   Best Selling Amazon Fire Tablets Best Selling Amazon Fire Tablets for Kids Best Selling Amazon Kindle Readers



Amazon Best Sellers: Camera & Photo

       

Best Selling DSLR Cameras Best Selling Lenses Best Selling Point and Shoot Cameras Best Selling Action Video Cameras & Camcorders


       

Best Selling Tripods Best Selling Camera Bags & Cases Best Selling Camera Cleaning Kits Best Selling Wireless Remote Shutter Release Amazon Best Sellers: Cell Phones & Accessories

        

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Amazon Best Sellers: Outdoor Recreation                   Best Selling Hydration Packs Best Selling Hiking Daypacks Best Selling Backpacks & Bags Best Selling Water Bottles

                 

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Best Selling Carry-on Luggage Best Selling Travel Suitcases Best Selling Travel Luggage Sets Best Selling Travel Luggage for Kids

     

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The post Amazon Best Seller Lists for Travel and Photography appeared first on PhotoJeepers.

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An American Southwest Road Trip. There’s nothing like it!

For me, road tripping is by far the best way to see and experience everything that America has to offer.

A road trip through the American Southwest takes you past unique deserts, mountains, canyons carved by rivers and spectacular national and state parks.

As a school teacher from Southwest Michigan, I look forward to summer road trips exploring the US with my wonderful daughter! I’m drawn to geological features and the American Southwest has so many to admire!

Here’s the 8-Day Southwest Itinerary that my daughter and I took in July last year.

This road trip guide includes so many things to do and see in the southwest region of the US!

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you!  Read the full Disclosure Policy. AMERICAN SOUTHWEST ROAD TRIP GUIDE DAY 1: Albuquerque to Flagstaff

Stops along the way:

  • Petrified National Park
  • Winslow, Arizona
Albuquerque, NM to Petrified Forest National Park, AZ – 3 hours drive time

We decided to start and end our Southwest Road Trip in Albuquerque, New Mexico since my brother lives there.

Before arriving at Petrified Forest National Park, I had been missing the landscape of the Badlands from last summer’s vacation. The first stop at Petrified Forest reminded me of the landscape of Badlands National Park and brought the biggest smile to my face!

I had also been quite tense flying from Michigan to New Mexico and then driving from Albuquerque to Petrified National Park. Seeing the beautiful landscape of the American Southwest relaxed me immediately.

The layers of different colors making up the landscape of Petrified Forest National Park (and Painted Desert) were just beautiful. The deposited layers are quite diverse with some areas a more orange color and other areas are a more blueish color.

We spent about 3 hours exploring the park, and could’ve stayed longer, but the weather took a wicked turn so we left in an attempt to beat the oncoming monsoon. If I ever go back to Petrified Forest, I would get there earlier, hope for good weather, and hike more trails.

SOUTHWEST US ROAD TRIP TIP: Be aware of the weather during the summer monsoon season in the southwestern region of the US.

Petrified Forest to Winslow, Arizona – 1 hour drive time

One of the best parts of a road trip is stopping at fun and quirky places.

When you drive through Winslow, you must take a photo on the corner. You know, for the song “Standing on the Corner in Winslow Arizona” by the Eagles.

Winslow to Flagstaff, AZ – 1 hour drive time

Our Southwest US itinerary included a stop at the Meteor Crater Natural Landmark on our way from Winslow to Flagstaff, but the monsoon storm prevented us from going.

ROAD TRIP TIP: Be flexible and prepared to make adjustments due to unexpected weather, construction, etc.

Where to Stay in Flagstaff  |  Things to Do in Flagstaff DAY 2: Flagstaff to Page, AZ

Stops along the way:

  • Grand Canyon South Rim
  • Grand Canyon Desert View Drive
  • Little Colorado Overlook
Flagstaff, AZ to Grand Canyon National Park, AZ – 2 hour drive time

Since we were still on Michigan time, it was easy to get up early each day. We highly recommend starting out early to avoid the crowds and heat that are inevitable on an American Southwest road trip in the summer.

Our first stop today was the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. The South Rim is open all year.

The easiest and fastest way to get around and see the Grand Canyon is to take the scenic Kaibab Rim Shuttle Bus. It’s the only way to access the South Kaibab Trailhead and Yaki Point.

There is a Hermit Road Shuttle bus that operates most of the year. It stops at 9 canyon overlooks along the scenic 7 mile Hermit Road.

We decided to spend a bit of time in the Village area to explore Mather Point and hike the rim trail for a bit.

Our itinerary for the day had us driving to Page, Arizona so we set out along Desert View Drive headed toward the Watchtower.

Mather Point to Desert View Watchtower – 35 minute drive time (with NO stops!)

Each viewpoint along Desert View Drive offers something just a bit different from all the others.

It’s definitely worth the time to stop at each viewing point on Desert View Drive along the way!

The watchtower is really neat inside. Be sure to climb to the top.

BOOK: Grand Canyon TOURS & TICKETS Desert View Watchtower to Page, AZ – 2 hour drive time

On our way to Page we stopped at the Little Colorado Overlook. It was a nice place to get out of the car to stretch our legs and enjoy the scenery.

SOUTHWEST ROAD TRIP TIP: Dehydration is serious in the summer months. Make a point to drink water at all the stops you make on your Southwest road trip. Keep water in a cooler in the trunk!

Where to Stay in Page, AZ  |  Things to Do in Page, AZ Day 3: Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon Page, AZ to Horseshoe Bend – 10 minute drive time

Nothing says American Southwest like a photo of Horseshoe Bend.

We got up EARLY to hike to Horseshoe Bend, arriving at the trailhead at 7 am to avoid the crowds and heat.

CARRY WATER with you on the hike since there is no shade along the 1.25 mile roundtrip hike that takes approximately 30 minutes to an hour.

Since we had a scheduled tour at Antelope Canyon the same morning, we didn’t stay long at Horseshoe Bend.

Horseshoe Bend to Antelope Canyon, AZ – 30 minute drive time

Visiting Antelope Canyon was a must on our Southwest Road Trip itinerary. We participated in the regular Dixie Ellis tour of Antelope Canyon (they offer a teacher discount.) Even though we had made an online reservation, we still had to wait in line to check in and then again before our tour time was called.

Once our tour was called we walked over to another waiting area. The tour guides are quite knowledgeable about camera phones and gave advice on how to take the best photos. Our guide also took our photos and made sure no one was in it.

Plan on shuffling through the canyon because it is packed with people!

Be sure to LOOK UP! The canyon is so spectacular, but it’s also amazing to look up and see the height of the canyon.

I think Antelope Canyon is incredible, but be sure to pack your patience and plan on your tour time running much later than expected. It doesn’t matter which tour company you book with because they both enter from the same location.

ROAD TRIP TIP: Always be aware of the TIME ZONE as you travel. The time zone in Page, Arizona is NOT THE SAME as Antelope Canyon only 5 minutes away. 

BOOK: Antelope Canyon TOURS & TICKETS Day 4 – Bryce Canyon National Park Page, AZ to Bryce Canyon National Park, UT- 2.5 hour drive time

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah was everything I thought it would be… and then some! I absolutely love the hoodoos and colors!

We arrived early and hiked the Queen’s Garden – Navajo Loop trail, starting from Sunrise Point. The trails goes past Queen’s Garden and connects with the Navajo Loop. 

Hiking UP the Wall Street switchbacks to the top of the canyon is a workout. We were pretty tired by the time we were done, but it was worth every single step!

Again…BRING LOTS OF WATER and start EARLY. It gets very hot in the summer, there is not much shade, and the end of the trail climbing those switchbacks is a workout! 

Our horseback riding experience through Bryce Canyon was the BEST horseback riding experience ever! Riding into the canyon on horseback was quite intimidating, but once I put all my confidence in that horse, I felt like I could enjoy the ride so much more!

I was surprised how different the canyon looked once we got to the bottom because it was full of trees!

WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY: There is so much to see, do and photograph at Bryce Canyon! Next time, I would get to Bryce earlier and plan to spend two days to hike more trails. I would also stay at a hotel closer to Bryce Canyon so I wasn’t driving to and from Page, Arizona.

We left Bryce and went back to our hotel in Page because I wanted to drive through Monument Valley on our way to Moab, Utah.

BOOK: Bryce Canyon TOURS & TICKETS Where to Stay near Bryce Canyon, UT  |  Things to Do near Bryce Canyon, UT EXTEND YOUR TRIP: CAPITOL REEF NATIONAL PARK

Capitol Reef National Park is one of Utah’s Mighty 5 national parks, but it gets overlooked because it’s not close to the other parks in the state. Once you visit Capitol Reef, it soon becomes your favorite.

Best Hikes and Activities in Capitol Reef National Park!

Day 5 – Page, AZ to Moab, UT

Stops along the way:

  • Monument Valley
  • Goosenecks State Park
  • Wilson Arch
  • Hole N” The Rock
Page, AZ to Monument Valley, UT – 2 hour drive time

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park is located in a remote area on the Utah/Arizona border. This destination was another must-see on our American Southwest road trip.

I am so glad I rented a Jeep because the drive through Monument Valley was rough! It’s a 14-mile graded dirt road that takes you past scenic spots like The Mittens, Three Sisters, John Ford’s Point, Totem Pole, and more.

There are also tours where Navajo guides can take you deeper into the Valley that you can’t do on your own.

We enjoyed stopping at all of the scenic spots as we drove along..

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Yellowstone in the winter is magical.

Just imagine seeing Yellowstone National Park covered in a blanket of snow with billowing steam and mist from the geysers.

The snow, frost and mist that cover the landscape and wildlife result in amazing winter photography at Yellowstone.

Winter is also the best time to relish in the peace and tranquility of Yellowstone! Enjoy the quiet, natural setting of the park that is non-existent during the busy summer months.

If you’re looking for a unique vacation where you can get away from it all, we recommend Yellowstone in the winter.

Read more about our 5 reasons to visit Yellowstone in the winter; and use our tips to plan your winter trip to Yellowstone.

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you!  Read the full Disclosure Policy. 5 REASONS TO VISIT YELLOWSTONE IN THE WINTER Yellowstone in the Winter is a Unique Experience

Winter in Yellowstone is not your ordinary vacation.

Vehicles are not allowed in the park around the first week of November, except from Mammoth Hot Springs through the North Entrance.

In mid-December, the roads open to oversnow travel only via snowmobile, snowcoach, snowshoe and cross-country ski

We enjoyed traveling along Yellowstone’s snow-covered roads in a bomardier snowcoach. There were no streams of cars, RVs or tour buses crowding the roads. If you’ve ever been to Yellowstone in the summer, you know this is a welcome change.

Can you imagine a better setting than Yellowstone to enjoy fun winter activities to explore the park by snowshoes, skis, snowmobiles or snowcoaches?

Quiet and Solitude in the Winter at Yellowstone

Not many people visit Yellowstone during the winter.

Finding quiet in the summer months is hard. Yellowstone in the winter offers miles and miles of solitude in a landscape that is unmatched by any other.

It was a welcome change to stop at popular locations like Grand Prismatic and the only sounds we heard were the flowing river and bubbling hot pools.

If you enjoy a destination that offers quiet and solitude, Yellowstone in the winter should be at the top of your bucket list.

Yellowstone Winter Photography

The winter landscape at Yellowstone is covered in a blanket of snow. There is frost on the trees and mist rising from the geysers.

As you can image, Yellowstone winter photography is spectacular.

We recommend you book a snowcoach that offers photo tours where there is flexibility to stop and take pictures at any time.

One of our favorite stops in the park was visiting Grand Prismatic where we captured the reflection of the winter landscape and rising steam in the water.

We were awestruck by the ice formations on the trees near the areas with hot pools and steam.

You’ll capture images that you can only get when photographing Yellowstone during the winter months.

Wildlife at Yellowstone in the Winter

The animals who call Yellowstone National Park home are even more exciting to watch in the snowy landscape.

Bison: During the winter, we love to photograph the contrast of the white snow against the dark hair of the animal. You’ll see the bison plow away the snow with their massive heads. Be patient and wait long enough for them to look at you and you’ll get that awesome shot of snow all over the bison’s head!

Wolves: Photographing the wolves in Yellowstone is pretty tough.  You’ll see wolves, but they are usually too far away to get a good photo. Most of the photos of wolves in Yellowstone are shot through spotting scopes with cell phones mounted to the eyepiece to get a snapshot.

We were lucky to see wolves ‘near’ the road when we were there. Even with the 500 mm telephoto lens we had, it was hard to get an image where the wolf fills the frame.

We didn’t get the perfect photo where the scene is sharp due to the bad light and weather, but wow, being able to see about 8 wolves in close proximity was amazing. 

Coyotes: During the winter Coyotes are fun to watch mousing. They sneak around the snow to hear noise from a mouse.  When they hear it, their whole body stiffens up and they suddenly spring into the air and dive head-first into the snow to grab the mouse.

Elk, trumpeter swans, river otters and other animals can also be seen in Yellowstone during the winter.

Yellowstone Waterfalls in the Winter

Yellowstone waterfalls are one of our favorite things to photograph in the park.

During the winter, the snowy landscape provides a unique setting to showcase the photos of these waterfalls.

A snowcoach can take you to see the Firehole Falls on your way to Old Faithful, or you can see the Lower Falls on a trip to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.

Keep your eyes open for wildlife along the rivers. We saw trumpeter swans, elk and bison as we ventured through the park.

PLANNING A WINTER TRIP TO YELLOWSTONE

Hopefully we’ve convinced you to visit Yellowstone in winter. Here’s all you need to know to start planning your winter trip to Yellowstone.

  • Yellowstone’s winter season runs from mid-December to mid-March.
  • Mammoth Hot Springs and Old Faithful are the only two areas of the park with facilities open in winter (lodging and dining).
  • The only road that is open to private vehicles runs between the North Entrance in Gardiner, Montana, to the Northeast Entrance in Cooke City, Montana, via Tower Junction. (While the road is “open” to cars, it may close temporarily due to weather or other reasons.)
Always check the National Park Service website for the latest information about specific dates and services in Yellowstone during the winter. Getting to Yellowstone

The Yellowstone Regional Airport is just outside of Cody, Wyoming and about 50 miles from the park’s East Entrance. It offers service from Salt Lake City and Denver.

Jackson Hole Airport, on the edge of Grand Teton National Park, is about 50 miles south of the park and offers service from Salt Lake City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Chicago, Atlanta and Denver.

Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport in Montana, is about 90 miles from the park’s north entrance, which is the only entrance open to car traffic in the winter.

Car rentals and shuttle service to nearby towns and hotels are available at all of the airports.

What to Expect at Yellowstone in the Winter

Cell service in and around Yellowstone can be spotty in some parts and non-existent in other parts.

If you stay in park lodging, there are no televisions, radios, or Wi-Fi at the hotels in order to provide guests the most authentic wilderness experience.

Because cell coverage is not reliable, it is a good idea to make proper preparations ahead of time. Print directions and reservations information prior to departure, or save them on a device that can be accessed offline.

Cold Weather Gear for Yellowstone in the Winter

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We often get asked this age-old question, “What is the best travel camera?”

To answer this question, we decided that the criteria for a ‘travel camera’ for this article means: the camera must produce quality photos without sacrificing convenience.

Most decent cameras can produce good images, but there are only a few that offer features to produce high-quality photos AND are convenient to carry and use when traveling.

For us, spectacular travel photos capture memories, and we want a camera that will capture images to stand the test of time.

Our travel photos are treasured souvenirs to share with family and friends for many years.

This buyer’s guide is for the traveler who wants DSLR quality images, but doesn’t want to transport and carry heavy DSLR gear.

If you want a travel camera that is compact and gives you pro-quality images of your vacation, then our list of the best compact travel cameras is for you!

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy. HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT TRAVEL CAMERA

When choosing the best travel camera for your needs, you must know what type of photography you will do.

Each camera has different strengths and weaknesses depending on what you’re using them for.

Are you going to photograph landscapes, wildlife, people or adventure activities? Do you need weatherproofing & ruggedness? What is your budget?

You may not find a compact travel camera with every function and feature.

This list of best compact travel cameras provides the types of photography they work best for and the pros & cons for each camera.

  • Fujifilm X-T2
  • Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V
  • Panasonic Lumix GH5
  • Fujifilm X100F
  • Leica Q
  • Olympus Tough TG-5
  • Sony A6500
  • Panasonic Lumix GX8
  • Fujifilm X-T20

10 BEST COMPACT TRAVEL CAMERAS Fujifilm X-T2 – Best Overall Compact Travel Camera

   

The Fujifilm X-T2 mirrorless camera is over a year old now, but it’s still a top contender for image excellence in the compact travel camera category.

This camera is small and has a novelty element that makes it ‘fun’ to shoot. It has a compact, rugged and water-resistant design that’s built to take anywhere.

The manual dials make it easy to control settings. You can rely on the X-T2 to produce studio-quality photos so you can spend less time post-processing.

It excels for taking photos of people, but this mirrorless camera is too slow for sports and action photos. The camera captures beautiful colors for landscape images.

The Fujifilm X-T2 is the best overall compact travel camera for anyone looking to step up from their smartphones or get rid of their bulky DSLR gear. It’s a fast-shooting mirrorless camera with amazing image, video and build quality.

PROS
  • Excellent design
  • Vastly improved autofocus
  • Fantastic image quality
  • Dust and moisture resistant
  • 4K video capture
  • Wi-Fi
CONS
  • Lacks internal stabilization
  • Weak battery life
  • No touchscreen
  • No in-camera flash
CHECK FUJIFILM X-T2 PRICE ON AMAZON
Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II – Best Technology in a Travel Camera

      

The Olympus E-M1 Mark II is the most technologically impressive compact travel camera. The body is considerably smaller than professional DSLR cameras, but packs quite an impressive specs list.

The camera has Micro Four Thirds shooting capability, high-speed 60fps Raw capture mode, high-resolution multi-exposure capture setting, and an in-body stabilization system that steadies both images and 4K video. And it’s the most weather sealed camera (with interchangeable lenses) on the market.

The E-M1 Mark II mirrorless camera provides more autofocus accuracy than any other compact travel camera. It can focus on targets of all types and speeds. The camera will lock tight to subject like moving animals or people dancing along a parade route.

The Olympus E-M1 is a truly versatile travel camera that’s speedy and built like a tank, yet still light. It’s more pricey than other high-end mirrorless cameras, but it shoots faster, it can stand up to everyday use and it’s fun to use.

PROS
  • In-body stabilization
  • High-resolution capture mode
  • Robust lens system
  • Weather-sealed body
  • 4K video
CONS
  • Pricey
  • Struggles in low-light situations
  • Tracking focus ineffective at top speeds
  • No built-in flash
CHECK OLYMPUS E-M1 MARK II PRICE ON AMAZON
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V – Best Ultra-lightweight Compact Travel Camera

     

The Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V is an ultra compact point and shoot camera perfect for traveling. It has many features like a tilting screen, pop up viewfinder, pop up flash, fantastic lens (24-70mm equivalent), and a remarkably fast tracking auto-focusing system.

The colors produced by the Sony RX100V are saturated, but not too much, so the images are realistic. Experiment with the different Picture Styles to match the subject, or to suit your personal tastes.

The RX100 V is pricey for the size, but you get amazing technology inside an ultra-lightweight and compact package. It’s small size means you can easily slip it into a jacket pocket or purse, which is perfect for travelers.

If you’re looking for something ultraportable that will produce quality images, then take a look at the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 V. For a more budget-friendly option, you may also want to look at previous versions of the RX100 if you don’t need some of the more fancy functions like high-frame-rate shooting.

PROS
  • Wide-aperture zoom lens
  • Strong low-light performance
  • Quick autofocus
  • Raw shooting support
  • Wi-Fi with NFC
  • Super slow-motion HD video with 4K recording
CONS
  • Very expensive
  • Lacks touch screen
  • Long times to clear buffer and render HFR video.
CHECK SONY CYBER SHOT PRICE ON AMAZON
Panasonic Lumix GH5 – Best Compact Travel Video Camera

     

The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is an impressive compact high end video camera. It’s a very capable Micro Four Thirds still mirrorless camera and can compete at the level of full frame video cameras.

The GH5 includes internal video recording formats that no other similarly sized camera can compete with. The entire camera is well designed for the video shooter.

You can turn the Panasonic Lumix GH5 into a proper video camera when you pair it with a hot shoe mounted microphone or XLR adapter that allows you to use full size microphones. Use a battery grip boost to increase shooting duration.

There are some mixed reviews about the stabilization while taking video hand held. If you need to film something that requires autofocus quickly and accurately, the Panasonic Lumix GH5 probably isn’t the best tool. But if you’re like us and use manual control for the focus, the GH5 is probably the best compact video (and still photo) camera for travelers.

PROS
  • Native 4K sensor and dual native ISO for excellent low-light video quality
  • Dual card slots
  • Vari-angle touch LCD
CONS
  • Lack of in-body stabilization
  • Sensor is not ideal for imaging
  • No built-in flash
  • Expensive
CHECK PANASONIC LUMIX GH5 PRICE ON AMAZON
Fujifilm X100F – Best Compact Travel Camera for the City

     

The Fujifilm X100F camera body is compact, sleek and features that famous retro style. The body is light, but it’s substantial.

This really can’t be stressed enough: the all-metal housing feels so expensive and durable, you won’t want to put it down. You can’t appreciate this statement until you’ve tried the camera yourself.

This model includes updates that improve image quality and autofocus. It also has a much larger battery, additional control buttons and a joystick!

The X100F is small, powerful and fast. Start up, aim, focus, shutter in less than a second fast. This is the perfect travel camera to have on hand at all times to capture moments. If you enjoy street photography, the Fujifilm X100F is the one you want.

A big downfall of this camera is the lack of weather sealing so be careful not to get it wet!

The Fujifilm X100F is the best travel camera for those who want SLR-quality images, but not the bulky frame. If you pay attention to light and composition when shooting and want high-quality images to print, this camera is for you!

PROS
  • Crisp wide-angle lens
  • In-lens ND filter
  • Fast autofocus
  • Focus select joystick
  • Wi-Fi
CONS
  • Lens lacks stabilization
  • Video limited to 1080p
  • Sometimes struggles with tracking subjects
CHECK FUJIFULM X100F PRICE ON AMAZON
Leica Q – Best Simple and Solid Compact Travel Camera

    

The Leica Q is a fixed-lens camera where the lens on the body is the only lens you’ll ever use. It’s a prime wide-angle that captures a good chunk of the scene around you at an impressively high resolution.

This camera is feels solid, and can be uncomfortable to hold for long periods of time without using a wrist strap. The Q can handle the scratches so don’t be afraid to take along on an outdoor adventure. But it’s not weatherproofed which is too bad since it’s built to take a beating.

The Leica Q compact camera is incredibly simple allowing you to focus on composition. It produces an amazing image and allows you to worry less about the settings and gear so you can spend time enjoying the moment.

If you dream about using a small camera as you travel to capture what you see, with no stress about settings or editing photos once you get home, the Leica Q is the perfect one for you!

PROS
  • Outstanding craftsmanship
  • Improved autofocus features
  • Wi-Fi
CONS
  • VERY Expensive
  • Sensor color rendering isn’t great
  • EVF is too small
CHECK LEICA Q PRICE ON AMAZON
Olympus Tough TG-5 – Best Underwater Compact Travel Camera

    

The Olympus Tough TG-5 is the best choice for a tough, underwater travel camera. It’s waterproof depth of 50 feet should meet most people’s needs.

This compact camera produces photos and video clips with very good image quality. The camera has more physical controls, switches and dials than most point-and-shoots. It also has the ability to capture RAW images files, 4K-resolution video and bursts of photos at 20 frames per second.

The TG-5 struggles in low light situations, but you can shoot in RAW-file format and restore some of the photo’s detail, color and contrast, as well as minimize noise.

This is a good entry level underwater compact camera. One tip is to purchase a fisheye adapter lens, like the FCON-T01, to get fabulous underwater images. This wet mount lens allows water to fill the space between back of the lens and the camera, which helps handle the distortion of shooting underwater.

Yes, the Olympus Tough TG-5 is pricey for a point-and-shoot camera, but the great assortment of shooting options will allow you to capture high-quality memories of your underwater excursions.The TG-5 is the best rugged and waterproof compact travel camera.

PROS
  • Tough, waterproof build
  • Wide aperture lens
  • Quick focus
  • Excellent macro capability
  • 4K video capture
  • GPS and Wi-Fi
CONS
  • Expensive
  • Rear screen can pick up scratches
  • 4K footage is cropped
CHECK OLYMPUS TOUGH TG-5 PRICE ON AMAZON
Sony A6500 – Best Apps in a Compact Travel Camera

    

The Sony A6500 camera capitalizes on Sony specific technologies while staying very compact and relatively affordable. This camera is great for those that want to utilize the Sony imaging technology.

The Sony A6500 is a powerhouse mirrorless camera that boasts the quickest autofocus out there.

This camera offers 4K video features that produce ultra-crisp results. To maintain maximum image quality it uses oversampling rather than pixel binning..

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Do you ever wonder why your photos turn out blurry when you have a really good camera?

Do you struggle to get your milky way images sharp or your waterfalls to look silky?

If you want high-quality images, you need a tripod! Period.

When you have a sturdy tripod, your photo quality will dramatically improve.

If you travel or hike like we do, you need a compact tripod that’s sturdy, but also lightweight.

This guide will help you find the best portable and lightweight tripod to suit your travel and photography style and budget.

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links,
we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you! Read the full Disclosure Policy. WHAT IS A TRAVEL TRIPOD?

Travel tripods are designed to be compact and lightweight.

Many travel tripods fold up into a compact package that you can fit into a carry-on bag. They are also designed to be lighter than the full-sized tripods.

Tripods designed for portability usually have four or more leg sections that can fold up around the center column, or a center column that drops down between the legs for transport.

Most lightweight travel tripods don’t extend to the same heights as full-sized tripods so you will need to bend over a bit while shooting.

Other than the features of being compact and lightweight, the travel tripod is basically the same as any other tripod.



CARBON FIBER OR ALUMINUM TRIPOD?

Carbon fiber is lighter than aluminum. Does a few ounces of weight difference really matter? If you’re someone who is traveling a lot or carrying around a gearpack, every ounce counts.

Aluminum is less expensive, and a bit more durable, than carbon fiber. You would think due to carbon fiber being lighter, that’s what makes it more expensive. Actually the higher cost is due to production costs.



BEST LIGHTWEIGHT TRIPODS FOR TRAVEL

The most-asked question we receive is “What tripod do you recommend?”

Most of our photography is outdoor landscape and wildlife that requires a STURDY tripod that’s also portable and lightweight.

A tripod is an essential part of our travel photography gear.

We rely on using a travel tripod to create the best images of the landscape and wildlife we see on our outdoor adventures.

We recommend the following list of travel tripods because they are sturdy, lightweight and portable.

  • MeFoto Globetrotter Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • Gitzo Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • Benro Travel Angel Series 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • Manfrotto 190go Aluminum Tripod
  • Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod
  • 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey Aluminum Tripod
MeFoto Globetrotter Carbon Fiber Tripod

      

The MeFoto Globetrotter Carbon Fiber Tripod is the one we use and always recommend. It’s perfect for our travel and hiking style.

If you want a high quality travel tripod that’s small, compact and very competitively priced, you’ll want to get the Globetrotter.

Lightweight carbon fiber construction makes it the perfect travel tripod. It’s also very sturdy which makes it a good choice for serious and casual photographers.

This portable tripod has the ability to convert to a monopod which is a nice feature.

The bottom line here is the MeFoto Globetrotter Carbon Fiber is a killer deal for the photographer who needs a lightweight and portable travel tripod.

There’s also an aluminum version of the MeFoto Globetrotter that’s less expensive, but weighs more. And there’s the MeFoto Roadtrip Classic Carbon Fiber Roadtrip Travel Tripod that packs up a bit more compact than the Globetrotter, but you sacrifice load capacity (only 17.6 lbs)

  • Load Capacity: 26.4 lbs
  • Maximum Height: 64.2″
  • Minimum Height: 16.1″
  • Folded Length: 16.5″
  • Leg Sections: 5
  • Weight: 3.7 lbs
CHECK LATEST MEFOTO TRIPOD PRICES ON AMAZON
Gitzo Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

          

When it comes to quality, performance and dependability, Gitzo tripods are hard to beat.

The Gitzo Series 1 Traveler Carbon Fiber Tripod and center ball head is light enough to carry all day, yet sturdy enough when you need it.

Don’t let the price scare you. Yes, it’s expensive, but if you take a lot of photos, use a tripod often, and really want something to last a long time, it’s worth the investment.

You know what they say about you getting what you pay for. If you are serious about taking your photography to the next level, and you need a lightweight tripod for travel, the Gitzo Traveler Carbon Fiber is one you should consider.

  • Load Capacity: 22 lbs
  • Maximum Height: 64.4″
  • Minimum Height: 12.6″
  • Folded Length: 16.7″
  • Leg Sections: 4
  • Weight: 3.2 lbs
CHECK LATEST GITZO TRIPOD PRICES ON AMAZON
Benro Travel Angel Series 2 Carbon Fiber Travel Tripod

            

The Benro Travel Angel Series 2 Carbon Fiber Tripod is a travel tripod with many full-size features.

With the load capacity, this portable tripod can easily handle a DSLR or mirrorless camera setup.

One of the features that makes this tripod easy for travel is that it folds back on itself. This allows the Benro Travel Angel II to be a truly compact tripod. When it’s folded up you can fit it inside your carry-on or strap it on the outside of your camera backpack.

The Benro travel tripod also has center-column versatility where the column can be removed and attached to a removable leg to form a monopod.

If you are looking for a sturdy, small and light tripod for travel, the Benro Travel Angel Series is one we recommend.

  • Load Capacity: w2 lbs
  • Maximum Height: 69.9″
  • Minimum Height: 18.7″
  • Folded Length: 24.6″
  • Leg Sections: 4
  • Weight: 4 lbs
CHECK LATEST BENRO TRIPOD PRICES ON AMAZON
Manfrotto 190go Aluminum Tripod

The Manfrotto 190go Aluminum tripod is a versatile tripod for many different types of photographers who need portability.

If you’re looking for a lightweight tripod that offers stability, the Manfrotto 190go is an excellent choice.

Compared to other travel tripods, the only drawback is the lighter load capacity the Manfrotto 190go can handle. If you shoot sports, action, storms or wildlife and use very heavy telephoto lenses, you will need a tripod that can handle a heavier capacity..

The Manfrotto 190go compact tripod has an innovative 90-degree central column which is perfect for macro photography.

Perhaps the best thing about the Manfrotto 190go series is how fast and easy it is to set up and collapse again. When you are out in the field taking photos, it sure is nice to quickly extend the tripod, especially since the other hand is usually holding the camera!

If you prefer carbon fiber, check out the Manfrotto Element Traveller Carbon Fiber Tripod.

  • Load Capacity: 13.2 lbs
  • Maximum Height: 61.4″
  • Minimum Height: 2.75″
  • Folded Length: 21.6″
  • Leg Sections: 4
  • Weight: 4.6 lbs
CHECK LATEST MANFROTTO TRIPOD PRICES ON AMAZON
Sirui Carbon Fiber Tripod

         

The Sirui T-025X Carbon Fiber Tripod with C-10S Ball Head is good for lightweight cameras, mirrorless cameras and DSLR cameras with small lenses attached.

It’s a very lightweight and compact tripod that fits easily in a carry-on bag or camera backpack. We appreciate that it’s light enough to carry around all day, stable enough to hold a DSLR with a small medium lens, and affordable.

The Sirui tripod is also perfect for backpacking. The space and weight savings mean you can pack that extra lens or batteries.

Sirui has created a lightweight and solid travel tripod that’s affordable and doesn’t feel cheap.

Consider the Aluminum Sirui T-005X if you need a more budget-friendly travel tripod.

  • Load Capacity:  13.2 lbs
  • Maximum Height: 58″
  • Minimum Height: 4″
  • Folded Length: 12.2″
  • Leg Sections: 5
  • Weight: 2 lbs
CHECK LATEST SIRUI TRIPOD PRICES ON AMAZON
3 Legged Thing Punks Corey Aluminum Tripod

       

If you’re looking for a very high quality, easy-to-use and easy-to-transport travel tripod, the 3 Legged Thing Punks Corey Aluminum Tripod checks all the boxes.

It’s a small tripod, but you don’t lose out on height as it extends to nearly five feet. This is all you really need from a travel tripod.

The 3 Legged Thing build quality is exceptional. One addition we really like is the implementation of rubber-coated twist locks. This improves grip and protects our hands from a hot or cold aluminum surface. It may not seem like a big deal, but your hands will thank you when you’re out taking photos on a hot or cold day.

Another innovative feature on the 3 Legged Thing Corey tripod is the ability to detach the center leg and use it as a monopod, microphone boom, or selfie stick depending on your needs.

High quality and performance at a terrific price make the 3 Legged Thing Corey the perfect choice for a travel tripod.

  • Load Capacity: 30 lbs
  • Maximum Height: 58″
  • Minimum Height: 4″
  • Folded Length: 13.7″
  • Leg Sections: 5
  • Weight: 3.4 lbs
CHECK LATEST 3 LEGGED THING TRIPOD PRICES ON AMAZON

We can’t stress this enough: if you want high-quality images, you need a tripod! Period.

When you have a sturdy tripod, your photo quality will dramatically improve.

If you travel and hike often, we recommend you invest in a travel tripod.

Find the best compact tripod that’s sturdy and lightweight that best meets your travel and photography needs.

TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

You don’t need the best travel camera or the most expensive travel photography gear to become a good photographer.

Photography is a journey and it improves over time through practice, patience, and more practice.

You can read articles and watch tutorials about photography, but until you practice those techniques, you aren’t going to improve!

If you need to invest in a new travel camera or upgrade your travel photography gear, then do it.

But also remember to invest money and TIME into learning new photography skills if you really want to capture stunning travel photos!


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We are going to share our biggest travel secret with you.

Visit US National Parks in the winter.

If you want to avoid the crowds, plan a vacation to a US National Park in the winter.

There are many National Parks that are hard to visit in the summer due to heat, bugs and crowds. You can enjoy the outdoor activities like hiking and biking during the day at many of these National Parks in the winter.

You can also enjoy the National Parks that are covered in snow during the winter. Skiing, snowshoeing, photography and star gazing are wonderful winter activities at many US National Parks.

Be prepared and pack for the weather conditions of the National Park you will visit during the winter.

Each National Park has different things to see and do during the winter months of December, January and February.

We have teamed with other travelers to provide this list of 12 Must-See National Parks to visit in the winter to help you plan your vacation.

  • Arches National Park
  • Big Bend National Park
  • Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Canyonlands National Park
  • Death Valley National Park
  • Everglades National Park
  • Grand Teton National Park
  • Rocky Mountain National Park
  • Saguaro National Park
  • Valley Forge National Historical Park
  • Yellowstone National Park
  • Zion National Park

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, we may earn a small commission – at no extra cost to you!  Read the full Disclosure Policy.

US NATIONAL PARKS TO VISIT IN THE WINTER Arches National Park in the Winter

Winter is our favorite time to visit Arches National Park near Moab, Utah. Winter is the off-season at Arches which means fewer people. Many times we seem to have the park to ourselves!

There are 5 reasons to visit Arches National Park in the winter.

No crowds: We don’t have to wait in line to enter the park or drive around trying to find a parking spots. You can find absolute quiet in the park during the winter. There are trails where you won’t see another person for hours.

Photos without the wait: Taking photographs of the formations and arches in the park requires patience for the majority of the year. You wait at each arch while everyone takes their turn to snap a selfie or photograph.

No scorching heat: In the winter you can enjoy a full day in the park without sweating and heat exhaustion. It’s still important to dress in layers, stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.

Winter photography: Colder air is clearer and creates vibrant, colorful pictures. Sunrise and sunset at Arches National Park is amazing. The soft light creates a spectacular glow on the red rocks that cannot be missed.

Stargazing: Due to its remote location, accessibility, altitude and clear skies, Arches National Park is one of the best places to see the stars in the night sky. The one downfall to visiting Arches in the winter is the Milky Way will not be visible. It’s best viewed from March to October.

Photo and article by Photo Jeepers

Big Bend National Park in the Winter

Big Bend National Park is one the largest national parks in the U.S. At over 800,000 acres, it’s roughly the size of Rhode Island!

Its location in the desert at the edge of Texas along the border with Mexico makes it a remote destination.

During the summer, temperatures here often surpass 100°F/38°C. But the winters are much more mild (highs around 70°F/21°C), making Big Bend a great destination to visit during this time.

There are three distinct areas in the park: river, mountains, and desert. There are many things to see and do at Big Bend in the winter.

In the Rio Grande Village area, you can hike down to the only Wild & Scenic River in the state of Texas. Here you can take a nice soak in the hot springs along the river, admire the Native American petroglyphs, and even cross the border into Mexico via rowboat ferry.

In the heart of the park you’ll find the Chisos, the only mountain range to be completely located within a national park! Many of the most popular hikes and the park lodge are in this area. Since the elevation is higher, it also gets much colder in this area.

You can take the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive through miles of gorgeous desert to Castolon. Here you can see the history of the park and region. And a few more miles down the road, you can hike into Santa Elena Canyon!

I recommend you plan your trip to Big Bend in the winter. It’s a beautiful, pristine desert wilderness. Though it is remote, it’s well worth a trip. Just make sure that trip’s during the cooler months!

Photo and article by Katy – Around the World in Katy Days

Bryce Canyon National Park in the Winter

Bryce Canyon National Park’s peak beauty is during the winter. The park sits at a high elevation in Utah so the tall, orange hoodoos are blanketed with snow and the park becomes a winter wonderland.

Another perk of visiting Bryce Canyon in the winter is the small number of visitors. You constantly can’t believe you have this popular national park practically all to yourself.

There are many activities to do at Bryce Canyon in the winter. The most popular activities include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, stargazing, and winter hiking.

Winter hiking requires hiking boots or snowshoes to be able to deal with the snow packed trails. But, if you have the right shoes, you can spend all day exploring the hoodoos on your own.

A ranger-led snowshoe program is offered which lends you free snowshoes and poles. It is a fun and unique way to explore the snowy national park.

Skiing is another great option to explore, even though it is illegal to ski off of the trails on the rim and into the canyon.

Use this Bryce Canyon winter packing list to be prepared with winter clothing that’s best for outdoor travel.

Due to the park’s remoteness, stargazing at Bryce Canyon is another popular activity all year round. On average you can see about 7,500 stars in the dark night. Occasionally, the park rangers host a winter astronomy program which includes viewing the stars with a telescope.

Bryce Canyon National Park has a unique beauty which is not replicated anywhere else. During the winter the views of Bryce Canyon are stunning with the white snow contrasted against the colorful landscape.

Bryce Canyon is a very popular destination that ordinarily becomes too packed to enjoy. Visiting Bryce in the winter provides the beauty minus the claustrophobic crowds.

Photo and article by Michelle – The Wandering Queen


Canyonlands National Park in the Winter

Canyonlands National Park, near the adventure town of Moab, Utah, is quiet during the winter. There aren’t as many people and you don’t have the scorching temperatures like you do during the summer. But visitor services are reduced at Canyonlands in the winter.

Winter temperatures in Canyonlands are cold, with highs averaging 30 to 50 F (-1 to 10 C), and lows averaging 0 to 20 F (-17 to -6 C). Large snowfalls are uncommon, but even small amounts of snow or ice can make local trails and roads impassable.

You will need to know what to expect and be more self-reliant when visiting Canyonlands during the winter months of December, January and February.

There are many things to see, do and photograph in Canyonlands Island in the Sky and Canyonlands Needles during the winter. And be sure to take a side trip to visit and photograph the views from Dead Horse Point State Park. It’s a short distance from the Island in the Sky entrance and worth the quick side trip.

Use our Canyonlands winter packing list to be prepared with winter clothing that’s best for outdoor travel.

Photo and article by Photo Jeepers

Death Valley National Park in the Winter

Death Valley National Park is located in California and stands as one of the largest and most diverse National Parks in the United States, and should be high on your list of National Parks to visit.

The desert wonderland at Death Valley comes alive in the winter months, and there is a little bit of everything here for every kind of explorer.

You could spend a weekend in Death Valley seeing all of its major highlights, or stay for weeks and go a bit off the beaten path.

There are many things to do at Death Valley in the winter. Drive along the established park roads and make stops at Death Valley’s popular sites such as the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, or visit the lowest elevation point in the United States at Badwater Basin.

Rent a four-wheel drive vehicle in the valley and explore Death Valley’s off road trails such as “The Racetrack” where rocks are said to mysteriously move across a giant dry lake bed and leave only a path to tell their tale.

For an extra-special view of Death Valley, hike the tallest peak, Telescope Peak, and look out West to view the valley floor and the Sierra Nevada mountain range.

From sand dunes to mountain tops, there is so much to do and experience in this park. Death Valley National Park during November, December, January and February are the prime times to visit. The weather is cool, the campgrounds are bustling, and the desert comes to life.

Photo and article by Allison – She Dreams of Alpine

Everglades National Park in the Winter

Everglades National Park is located a little under an hour away from the hustle and bustle of Miami and Naples in Florida. But it provides a nice getaway from the busy cities.

This natural wonderland is a huge wetland filled with tropical birds, alligators, manatees, and hundreds of species of fish.

However, due to its location in the southern part of Florida, the best time to visit Everglades National Park is in the winter. Visiting any other time would result in excessive heat, a high level of humidity and an onslaught of mosquitos.

When we visited Everglades in January, we took a tour of the Miccosukee Indian Village, biked around Shark Valley and rode an airboat through the peaceful wetlands.

Alligators are everywhere in this area, so always keep an eye out!

If you are planning a trip down to Naples or Miami during the winter months, plan to visit Everglades National Park. You will enjoy a unique, natural, and serene getaway.

Photo and article by Margie – DQ Family Travel

Grand Teton National Park in the Winter

Grand Teton National Park is located near Jackson Hole, Wyoming. This area has long, cold winters. The first heavy snows fall by November 1 and continue through April; snow and frost are possible during any month.

Taking photos of Grand Teton National Park with the snow-covered mountains and landscape is one of our favorite things. The white snow also helps the wildlife stand out. We’ve seen moose, bison, elk and even wolves!

It’s best if your vehicle is four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or has all-weather tires recommended for winter travel. Some roads in Grand Teton are closed for the winter, and others may be icy or may even close during blizzards. Be aware of wildlife, speed limits and road conditions as you drive through the park during the winter. Carry a winter safety kit in your car.

Snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are two of the best winter activities to explore the Grand Teton National Park. Use our Grand Teton winter packing list to be prepared with winter clothing that’s best for outdoor travel.

Plan a trip to Grand Teton National Park if you enjoy seeing and photographing stunning winter landscapes and participating in outdoor winter activities.

Photo and article by Photo Jeepers

Rocky Mountain National Park in the Winter

For those iconic Rocky Mountain views of Colorado, consider visiting

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