Are you yearning for a budget-friendly National Park adventure? Look no further! With these 13 expert tips, you’ll be able to experience America’s stunning natural landscapes without breaking the bank. From camping and taking advantage of free admission days, to packing your own food, we’ve got all the insider knowledge you need to make your dream trip a reality. So gather your gear, get ready for an unforgettable journey, and enjoy the best of America’s National Parks without spending a fortune!

Can Any National Park Be Visited On A Budget?

Did you know that visiting any national park on a budget is totally doable?

National parks are some of America’s most treasured natural areas, and they offer countless opportunities for amazing outdoor experiences.

But it’s easy to think that visiting one would break the bank.

However, with a little planning and flexibility, it’s possible to visit any national park without spending too much money.

Lodging and campsites within the parks can be affordable options, and many parks offer free admission days throughout the year.

Planning activities such as hiking or backpacking can also save money compared to more expensive options like guided tours or renting equipment.

So don’t let financial concerns stop you from experiencing the beauty and wonder of our country’s national parks – there are plenty of ways to make it happen on a budget.

Step-by-Step Instructions To Visit National Parks On A Budget

The Big Bend on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park
The Big Bend on Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park

In order to find the most budget friendly way of traveling, a few things must be taken into account.

Without further ado let’s find out the best ways to travel to national parks on a budget!

1. Get More People To Go

Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park. visit national parks on a budget
Hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park.

This is the number one way to save lots of money while traveling. Aside from flying, groups bring down the cost of everything including lodging, car rentals, food, and entrance fees.

Being able to split up the total bill between 4 or 5 people can make a huge difference.

What would cost one person almost $1000, would only cost around $200 per person not including flights.

In many cases, the price per person can be even cheaper, depending on how you decide to plan the rest of the trip.

2. Camp Over Staying At A Hotel

Camping and saving a ton of money.
visit national parks on a budget
Camping and saving a ton of money.

When visiting national parks on a budget, camping is a must.

Almost every national park has campsites, even the desert parks. A vast majority of them have modern amenities too.

These include flushable toilets, showers, RV hookups, and camp stores.

While a hotel can cost on the low end $90 a night, campsites cost at most $45 a night.

That’s half the cost!

Not even to mention higher end hotels can cost upwards of $150 a night.

Considering camping gear can be a little expensive for first time campers, this option can be a little off-putting. However, after the initial purchase, the only cost is the campsite.

3. Choose If Driving Or Flying Is Cheaper

Driving the open road. visit national parks on a budget
Driving the open road.

This tip is a tough one because it can take a little bit of time to decide what is the best option for the travelers. It all comes down to distance.

While flying is much faster, for shorter trips, this may not be practical. The cost of a ticket can be more than the cost of gas driving to your destination. In this case, pack up the car. It’s time for a road trip!

For destinations that are further away, flying can be advantageous. Even factoring in the cost of a rental car, flying, most of the time, is cheaper.

For the people starting their adventure flying, check out Google Flights, Skiplagged, and Hopper. Between these three platforms, you will find the best ticket prices guaranteed.

4. Find The Perfect Car Rental

Chevy Colorado in the Colorado mountains. visit national parks on a budget
Chevy Colorado in the Colorado mountains.

Are you looking for a cheap rental car for your next trip? Look no further! There are several ways to save on your rental car budget.

First, search for deals online and make sure to compare prices between different companies.

You can also look into discounted auto club memberships, as they often have deals with certain rental car companies.

It’s also a good idea to avoid renting at the airport, as those locations typically have higher fees. Finally, consider sharing a rental car with friends or family if you’re traveling in a group.

By following these tips, you’ll be able to snag an affordable rental car without sacrificing on quality or convenience.

5. Check RV Rental Prices

RV camping in luxury. visit national parks on a budget
RV camping in luxury.

Are you the proud owner of a truck and feeling the itch to hit the open road?

Have you considered renting an RV for your next vacation?

Not only can it save money on accommodations, but it also gives you the flexibility to explore new destinations at your own pace. And don’t worry, rental rates for RVs are often very budget-friendly.

So gather up some friends or family and start planning your road trip.

Imagine all the beautiful national parks and breathtaking landscapes you could visit! Plus, think of all the money you’ll save on lodging and car rentals. Start checking rental prices and let the adventure begin!

6. Camp In Parking Lots

Pull-offs are everywhere! visit national parks on a budget
Pull-offs are everywhere!

If you’re traveling in an RV or vehicle and don’t mind staying in your vehicle overnight, this budget-saving tip is perfect for you.

Did you know that there are many parking lots that allow you to spend the night for free?

This is a great option for those who are looking to save some money on lodging expenses.

Additionally, there are plenty of free camping opportunities available if you know where to look.

Whether it’s in town or in the countryside, there is no need to spend your hard-earned money on a place to stay when there are free options available.

With a bit of research and a little bit of adventure, you can find the perfect spot to park for the night and save some money in the process.

7. Consider Taking A Train

Taking a train allows you to sit back and enjoy the scenery. visit national parks on a budget
Taking a train allows you to sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Not many people consider trains as an option these days. However, Amtrak has a ton of routes that are bound to get you close to the action.

Tickets are cheaper than flying and while your on your trip, enjoy the great scenery. Most paths will take you through some of the most beautiful scenery in America.

For those looking for something interesting, memorable and out of the ordinary, a train ride to your national park destination is perfect.

8. Choose The Right Park Passes

America the Beautiful park pass. visit national parks on a budget
America the Beautiful park pass.

Selecting the right park pass can be a smart money-saving move for any National Park adventurer.

There are several types of passes available for purchase at National Parks, and each one has its own benefits and drawbacks.

For example, the 7-day park pass is a fantastic option for those who only plan on visiting one or two parks in a given year.

At just $35, it’s a great value for a week of adventure and exploration.

On the other hand, if you’re a frequent National Park visitor and plan on exploring three or more parks in a year, then the Annual America the Beautiful Pass is definitely the way to go.

For $80, this pass gives you access to any National Park or Federal Recreational Land. Whether you’re a seasoned park-goer or a first-time visitor, choosing the right park pass can save you money and help make your National Park experience even more enjoyable.

9. Visit During The Off -Season

Arches National Park during the winter season. visit national parks on a budget
Arches National Park during the winter season.

Winter is often overlooked as the perfect time to visit some of the more crowded and desert National Parks.

But did you know that visiting these stunning natural areas during the off-season can actually be a great way to save money and avoid the crowds?

While many people tend to flock to National Parks during the warm summer months, winter offers ample opportunities to make the most of your National Park experience.

Not only are crowds smaller and lines shorter, but park entrance passes are often more affordable during the off-season, saving you even more money on your National Park adventure.

So why not embrace the chill and explore the beauty and wonder of America’s National Parks during the winter season? With fewer crowds and more budget-friendly options, it’s the perfect time to experience these incredible natural areas in a whole new way.

10. Go On Free Days

Welcome to Glacier National Park!
Welcome to Glacier National Park!

Get ready to mark your calendars, National Park lovers!

Did you know that there are 5 days out of the year when all National Parks are free to enter?

That’s right, you can enjoy the beauty and wonder of America’s most treasured natural areas without having to spend a single penny.

And let’s be real, who doesn’t love a good deal?

So make sure to mark these free days on your calendar and plan your National Park adventure for the ultimate savings.

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to explore our country’s stunning landscapes and create memories that will last a lifetime.

The best things in life truly are free!

11. Cook Your Own Food

Campfire cooking at Joshua Tree National Park.
Campfire cooking at Joshua Tree National Park.

Eating out can be a major drain on your wallet, especially when you’re trying to enjoy the great outdoors and all that National Parks have to offer.

But what if we told you that there’s a simple solution that can save you money, give you control over what you’re eating, and even add a personal touch to your meals?

Yes, we’re talking about cooking your own food!

Not only does cooking at home save you money, but it also gives you the opportunity to be in control of the ingredients you’re consuming.

Say goodbye to those mystery ingredients and hello to healthier, tastier meals.

And the best part?

The extra cash you save by cooking your own meals can be put towards more exciting activities like white water rafting, ATV rentals, or in-town attractions.

So next time you’re trying to decide between eating out and staying in, think about the benefits of cooking your own food.

Whether you’re camping in the great outdoors or staying in a cozy cabin, a home-cooked meal will not only save you money but also add a personal touch that you just can’t find at a restaurant.

Watch your wallet thank you and your taste buds dance with joy!

12. Use One Credit Card For Group Purchases

Choose a card, any card.
Choose a card, any card.

Managing group expenses can be a hassle, especially when you have to split everything from pizza to gas to groceries.

Trying to make sure everyone pays the same amount is never easy.

The solution?

Have one person put all the purchases made during the trip on a credit card and pay it off before incurring any interest.

This way, everyone pays the same exact amount, eliminating any disputes about who spent more.

So, if you’re planning a group trip and want to avoid the stress of dividing expenses, consider this simple and effective solution.

Just remember to pay off the credit card before interest accrues, or you may end up paying more than you planned.

13. Visit National Monuments Instead

Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Utah.
Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Utah.

Imagine exploring the rich history and breathtaking landscapes of our country’s National Monuments – all for free!

That’s right, most of America’s National Monuments offer free admission all year round. There’s no better way to stretch your budget than by visiting these beautiful, cultural treasures.

To maximize your savings, why not plan a trip that takes you to as many National Monuments as possible?

Not only will you be able to experience the unique beauty of each location, but you’ll also save on camping costs, as camping near National Monuments is often more affordable than in national parks.

So pack your bags and get ready for a budget-friendly adventure that will leave you awestruck and inspired!

Key Considerations For Successfully Visiting National Parks On A Budget

Take a bus to save some money!
Take a bus to save some money!

Not all of these tips have to be used. Pick and choose what works best for you. However, if all these tips are used, you are on the fast track to visiting a national park on any budget. Be sure to book ahead of time though. the good prices won’t last forever!

Taking it to the Next Level: How To Spend Next To Nothing On Your National Park Trip

Setting up tracking on flights, lodging, or car rentals can save a lot of money. When the app you are using detects a lower price, you will get alerted. Although waiting can just put more stress into the situation, the savings will be more than worth it.

Another way to travel for next to nothing is taking the bus. Usually tickets are cheap. However it can take more time to reach your destination. If taking it easy for a few days sounds like a plan to you, the bus is a great way to go.

My Experience With Visiting National Parks On A Budget

Up at Sky Pond in RMNP
Me standing up at Sky Pond In Rocky Mountain National Park

Waiting a little bit before booking anything is the thing that works the best in my opinion. Hundreds can be saved just waiting a month before booking.

Camping is also a huge money saver. I’ve been able to have 5 people go to Rocky Mountain National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Arches National Park under $500 a person including the flight, rental, and a very nice campground.

Another trip consisted of driving to Rocky Mountain National Park along with Yellowstone National Park for under $500 a person.

Traveling on a budget to national parks is a very achievable goal. Putting in the time and effort to reduce the cost as much as possible takes time but is well worth it in the end.

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