When we think of national parks, the first image that comes to mind is rugged travelers with backpacks on mountain tops after a long hike, but that’s not all there is to do at the national parks. Most parks have a wide variety of activities, including driving tours, scenic overlooks, and accessible hikes for people of all abilities.
One of the best ways to see a national park is on a guided tour. We’re celebrating all the different types of national park tours by highlighting our favorite ones across the country.
1. Denali National Park Tundra Wilderness Bus Tour
Denali National Park & Preserve in Alaska offers the Tundra Wilderness Tour. During this popular tour, your driver-guide will narrate the history of the park while you enjoy the incredible scenery. Make sure to bring your camera & binoculars because you’ll have a good opportunity for wildlife sightings such as bears, moose and caribou to name a few. Also, your guide will make frequent stops for wildlife picture taking. This tour also takes visitors to the Murie Cabin, which was home to explorer and researcher Adolf Murie. This tour lasts 5.5 hours and stops for restroom breaks every 90 minutes.
Where to Stay: Denali Park Village Cabins
Located just six miles outside of the park entrance you’ll find Denali Park Village, where you can stay in private cabins nestled among the towering spruce trees along the Nenana River. The cedar cabins are the perfect way to enjoy the Alaskan wilderness, while also keeping you close to any convenience you need. The nearby Lodge has on-site dining, a gift shop, and a cozy fire pit.
2. Horseshoe Bend Rafting Trip
Experience Horseshoe Bend in the most memorable way possible. The Horseshoe Bend rafting trip takes you through a total of 15 miles of beaches, canyons, and cliffs, with lots of history mixed into the fun. Start your half-day adventure with a beautiful drive through the Glen Canyon Dam where you will board the raft near the base of the dam. You will have multiple stops along the way to visit Petroglyph Beach and spot wildlife along the Colorado River. This trip is family friendly and open to ages four years old and up! Make sure to book in advance to secure a spot for you and the family.
Where to Stay: Lake Powell Resort
If you’re planning a longer stay at Lake Powell, the Lake Powell Resort at Wahweap Marina in Page, Arizona puts you right at the heart of all the down lake activities and action. Onsite amenities include two swimming pools, hot tub, access to the lake, fitness center, and multiple dining options. From the resort, you’ll have access to lots of lake activities, such as boat tours, boat rentals, and a swim beach.
3. Valley Floor Tour
With so much land to cover during your trip to Yosemite, a bus tour is one of the best ways to experience so much that the park has to offer at once. The Yosemite Valley Floor Tour is a 2 hour long tram, or coach, ride that is offered year-round. As you take in some of the main attractions in the park, such as Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridalveil Falls, you will be filled with the rich history of the land by park rangers. Make sure to book ahead of time as spots can fill up fast!
Where to Stay: Yosemite Valley Lodge
Located just around the corner from Yosemite Falls, Yosemite Valley Lodge is the perfect getaway for you and your family. They offer a variety of rooms to choose from including a traditional style stay, family rooms with multiple beds and a living room area, as well as bunk rooms for smaller sized groups. With multiple dining options, endless activities in and around the property, and an outdoor amphitheater, you will never be bored during your stay at Yosemite Valley Lodge.
4. Lake Quinault Rainforest Tour
The United States is home to a number of different biomes and climates. Olympic National Park has the only temperate rainforest located in a national park. If you’re planning a visit, you must not miss the Quinault Rainforest Tour. Along this 4-hour tour, you’ll learn about the lush flora and get to know what animals reside in this area. The tour takes place in a comfortable tour shuttle and covers 33 miles. Be sure to keep your camera ready for the Valley of the Giants where you’ll get to see world-record-breaking trees.
Where to Stay: Lake Quinault Lodge
Befitting its majestic surroundings you’ll find the Lake Quinault Lodge, which is a grand and rustic lodge built in 1926. During your stay, you’ll get to enjoy the warmth and hospitality of another era. Unwind in front of the fireplace, dine in the historic Roosevelt Dining Room, or simply curl up with a good book by the lake.
5. Mesa Verde National Park’s 700 Years Tour
People were living in the United States long before it was settled by British colonists in the 1600s. You can learn about the Ancestral Puebloans on the 700 Years Tour at Mesa Verde National Park. On the tour, you’ll see amazing views and impressive cliff dwellings where the Ancestral Puebloans had lived. This is an in-depth tour with engaging narrative by an experienced NAI certified Interpretive Guide who will share their knowledge of the Puebloans’ history, architecture, horticulture and religion. The tour takes you in chronological order, from the oldest structures to the newest cliff dwellings.
Where to Stay: Far View Lodge
For a visit to Mesa Verde National Park, you’ll want to book a room at the Far View Lodge. Located just 15 miles from the park entrance. Enjoy onsite dining and TV-free rooms so you can focus on enjoying the natural surroundings and watching wildlife.
Across this diverse and beautiful country, you’ll find dozens of national parks, all with their own unique features, landscapes, and sights to see. One of the best ways to see a national park is through a tour.