Tips and Tricks for Visiting 26 National Parks, Straight From Park Employees

Each of the National Park Service’s 417 locations, from national parks and monuments, has unique sights and activities — that can be best appreciated with a few insider tips.

For example, a hidden gem at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan is Port Oneida Rural Historic District, which is filled with turn-of-the-century farmhouses, beautiful views of Lake Michigan, and secluded beaches.

Nothing compares to the jaw-dropping beauty of watching the sun rise over the Kilauea Caldera from the Jaggar Museum overlook at Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, with the erupting lava lake glowing a mile and a half away.

Within Olympic National Park, the 3.2-mile-long Hurricane Hill Trail will bring you past views of Mt. Olympus, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and of Vancouver Island.

For those in search of quiet relief in the Great Smoky Mountains, a public affairs representative recommends the many “quiet walkways” that line the Newfound Gap Road and Little River Road.

To help travelers get the most of out their next visit to one of the sites, Travel + Leisure spoke to National Park Service representatives for the inside scoop on 26 locations. From the hidden gems you won’t want to miss, the best time of year to visit and the biggest mistakes to avoid, here are tips from park rangers, chiefs, and public affairs officers.


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